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1. When Life Imitates Art

A friend of mine sent me a link to this video: http://youtu.be/e5iEhd-hW_k

The connection to Living Rough is amazing, as is this young man’s journey. Hope, is what I sought to share as a theme in my novel, and Griffin’s story parallels my character Edgar Allan (Poe) Reed’s life in many ways. Kudos to Griffin and all the Poe’s out there getting by and finding ways to live their dreams!

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2. Guest Blog Feature

Thanks to my neighbour and friend, Laura Thibeault, for recommending me to her brother, Jock Mackenzie. He hosts an amazing blog about all things literary, and about great teaching ideas! Here is the link!

https://jockmackenzie.wordpress.com/2016/03/15/reader-of-the-day-52/

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3. Recent and Upcoming Events

I had the pleasure of joining Yorkson Creek Middle School, in Langley, as they celebrated World Read Aloud Day on February 24, 2016. The day coincided with our National Pink Shirt Day, which sends messages about treating one another with kindness, fairness and understanding. Certainly, a theme in both of my newly released books, ON CUE (Orca Currents) and CUTTER BOY (Lorimer Sidestreets). Read Aloud Day is about bringing the joy of reading to those who don’t have access to books, but it is also about instilling a love of reading in those who may be reluctant to pick up a book on their own. This is the group for whom I write – struggling readers who need a book that sparks their imagination, or matches their world and encourages them to want to learn more.

The two groups of grade six, seven and eight students I presented to asked excellent questions about being an author and about the writing process. There were close to 300 students in all and we enjoyed talking about favourite books in a series, and favourite stand alone titles. I loved every minute of it! Now if my books would arrive at the school so the students could take them out of the library!

COMING SOON! I will be hosting a book launch March 12th in Surrey at the Surrey Arts and Recreation Centre. Family and friends will be joining me to help celebrate! Feel free to come and hear about my new books!

On April 10th, Friends of the White Rock Library are hosting an Author Open House. I have attended previously, and made some wonderful connections there to other authors in the area. I missed being a presenter this year as their roster was full, but I have been invited to attend, and will be introduced and given a chance to share the titles of my new books. It means a chance to mingle with others after the event and to cheer on my writer’s group!

On April 30th, I will be at Black Bond Books (1-15562-24th Avenue) volunteering to help support Independent Book Stores in Canada. Check out the Authors for Indies website: http://www.authorsforindies.com/authors for indies

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4. The Art in Cutter Boy – Take 3

Today is the release date for Cutter Boy! I am anxious to have a book in my hands. As mentioned in my two previous blog posts, I plan to share the final artist showcased in my novel, through this post.

When writing a book, one may have the germ of an idea for a story. So much more has to come together for the story to have plot, tension and to be a compelling read. When I first decided to write about a boy who self-harms, I knew that was not enough. I knew the story needed more to be a compelling read, and it needed more to help those in distress and/or helping others who struggle.

When I first discovered paper-cut art and saw the artist, Béatrice Coron through my character’s eyes, it made it so much easier to peruse the web for more artists. I knew which ones my character was drawn to and why he connected with them. The last artist alluded to in my book is Canadian, Calvin Nicholls. His work can be seen here: http://www.calvinnicholls.com/

I was mesmerized by his work and it becomes a connecting moment between Travis and Chyvonne is the book. As Cutter Boy is released today, I hope that readers enjoy the art mentioned in the book and I hope that the story helps those youth, who need to be heard.

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5. The Art in Cutter Boy – Take 2

Last week I started a 3-part blog in anticipation of the upcoming release of my first hi-lo YA novel with Lorimer Sidestreets. Cutter Boy will be released on February 12th and thanks to Netgalley, is receiving a high volume of ratings and reviews posted on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27788155-cutter-boy

Please see my previous blog post: Art in Cutter Boy – Take 1, for a synopsis of the story and for information on the first artist to be showcased from the novel, Béatrice Coron. You can order Cutter Boy here: Lorimer Sidestreets: http://www.lorimer.ca/sidestreets/Book/S/32/2893/Cutter-Boy.html

Once Travis (my main character) became hooked on paper-cut art through his discovery of Béatrice Coron, he searched the internet for other artists using this medium. In one scene I have him being introduced to the art of Elod Beregszaszi, who focuses on 3-dimensional and pop-up paper-cut art. A favourite piece for Travis is a set of lines that look like crazy stairs going nowhere: http://www.popupology.co.uk/galleries

The next artist to be featured here is Miriam Dion, a Canadian who studies in Quebec and uses newspapers and magazines to create her images. She often leaves parts of the text in tact, adding to her unique art. Travis refers to one piece as, The House That Screamed. Check out her work here: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2013/10/cut-lace-newspapers-myriam-dion/

As promised in my first blog on Cutter Boy, I am also including places to access support because of the sensitive nature of the story.
kidshelpphone: http://www.kidshelpphone.ca/teens/home.aspx
Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre: http://keltymentalhealth.ca/

http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/mental_health/links.htm

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6. The art in Cutter Boy – Take 1

As the publication date nears for my first novel in the Lorimer Sidestreets series, I thought it would be a good time to share some of the art that inspired this book. When I decided to write about the sensitive issue of self-harm, I knew that the story required me to be real. That meant going to difficult places as a writer, and it meant asking readers to go to those same dark places with me. Something light had to balance the story.

For so long, I didn’t write what was originally called, ‘Edge of Grey’ because I couldn’t find the ‘light’. I knew Chyvonne would be the friend Travis needs but I also knew the story required more. As a Faculty Advisor for a few years with UBC, I was introduced to the amazing world of TEDtalks.

One day my Facebook feed presented me with a talk by artist Béatrice Coron. It was about stories cut from paper. In that moment, I saw her work not as Cristy the writer, but as Travis, the character. I instantly knew this incredible art would speak to him, and I knew I now had a story. Thank you to Béatrice Coron for her fabulous paper-cut art and for introducing Travis to a whole new world. Her art, and the TEDtalk, can be viewed on her website: http://www.beatricecoron.com

While I know there are many things that need to come together for a person struggling with self-harm to move forward, including the support of a caring friend, teachers, parents and counsellors, I also know the power of healing, when an individual discovers a passion within them; be it art, music, dance, writing, or sports. Travis found art and that, combined with a good friend, was the first step on his journey forward.

I hope this story opens the conversation and allows us to talk about tough issues, particularly those affecting young males. I also hope it offers some light to those suffering in silence. Please reach out to supports in your community. Today is Bell’s National Let’s Talk Day, so let’s talk and let’s listen! Check out their web page here and youth supports on our Canadian Mental Health page. Next time I post I will share more supports within our local community and more of the art that inspires Travis.

http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/

http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/Pages/home.aspx

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7. Cutter Boy review

As always, waiting to hear how your novel is perceived by the public is taxing! Especially, when the novels one writes are for a very targeted audience. In my case, the hi-lo readers in the YA population. Add to that, a sensitive topic that one hopes is written with honesty, and offers some hope to the readers. It appears that the first review is positive on all fronts! Phew!

As authors, we are gratefu to the readership, particularly, those who take the time to write reviews. So, I am excited and thankful for my first review of an ARC (advanced reading copy). This review can be found on Goodreads:

Judy rated it it was amazing (5 stars out of 5)
Cutter Boy tackles the very current teenage problems of bullying, fitting in, and self-mutilation head on in a caring, thoughtful manner with well-developed characters and a fast-moving plot. This book should appeal to middle and high school students. Its low readability level (3.1) makes it accessible to a wide student population. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to students. It should spark lively discussions in literature groups.I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.

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8. Comment on Writes of Spring by cristy watson

I’m with you on that one! I often find that a drive in my car lets the thoughts flow freely, but then how do you collect them? I once used a tape recorder and while it captured the thoughts, it meant a ton of work later, copying them down. Hope you have a trick for capturing your ideas while driving!

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9. Wrestling with the Process

As I edit my latest YA novel for Lorimer Publishing, I realize the toughest job is yet to come! I have been diligently moving the tense from past to present, all while thinking about how to tackle the additions both my editor Kat, and I wish to make. One is to add a new scene at the beginning of the novel between my protagonist and his girlfriend.

Easier said than done! In short, hi-lo fiction, our books are fast-paced and plot-driven. Characterization and setting are intrinsically tied to sentences that move the plot along. So, the first chapters are filled with sentences that serve many purposes. To add a new beginning, means much of the work in the original chapter one, needs to move to this one. That leaves a few bare bones left in the previous chapter, yet it has merit, too! Such a dilemma!

Good thing my sister provided Christmas treats that help me through the process! Chocolate Icy Squares and Cashews!

Editing Inspiration

Editing Inspiration

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10. New Author Facebook Page

Though I wasn’t sure I wanted an author page on Facebook – so unsure, in fact, that I started one over a year ago and left it unpublished all this time – I have finally finished it and sent it out into the world!

It needs some work but it is a start. I was prompted to finish it because my new publisher, Formac/Lorimer requested that I have a strong online presence. I use twitter: luvshakespeare and have posted author pages for Amazon, Goodreads, Pinterest and Library Thing. So, Facebook was the next logical step. I have now finished the author questionnaire for Lorimer and came home to find one for Orca, as they prepare for the release of my third novel in the Currents. So, back to work!

Check out my page and let me know your thoughts: https://www.facebook.com/watsoncristy/?ref=hl

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11. A new kind of waiting

Both Orca and Lorimer are to be congratulated on the covers for my two new YA hi-lo novels due out this Spring! I just received the Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) for On Cue. About 60 copies of the ARC were printed and they will be distributed to sales reps, major review publications, media sources, blogs and select contacts at various libraries, schools and bookstores. The hope is that the book receives positive reviews in advance of the publication date.

My two previous books have met with mixed reviews. Living Rough has fared better than Benched with adult reviewers, but both books seem to garner positive feedback from the intended YA audience. I hope for good reviews for both of my new books. Here is a recent review that went up for Living Rough this month on Goodreads:

Brianna Manheim
Living Rough is a young teen novel that hits on the critical issue of homelessness and poverty. Although the book is pretty short, Watson manages to get across the hardships of being homeless and overall public assumptions, while still being able to give the readers a happy ending.
Edgar Allen Reed is a high school aged boy who lives with his father in a tent in the woods. Edgar, whose friends call him Poe, tries to hide his home situation from his peers and teachers as best as possible, that is until tragedy strikes. The best part of this novel is that it shows the raw emotion between the students when they have an in class discussion about poverty. I would definitely have this book available on my classroom bookshelf to provide exposure of these subjects to my students.

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12. Some of the waiting is done!

Part of the author life is waiting…

Waiting to hear back on books you have sent to prospective Publishers.  I have two of those pending.  I am in the window for OwlKids Books.  In the next few weeks I will either hear a YES on my picture book (what I hope will happen) or I will find a manila envelope in my mailbox (what I hope will NOT happen). I also have a few months left in the waiting game for my children’s picture book with Second Story Press – same deal as above!

Waiting to see the production team’s decisions for your novel’s cover.  I have one of those pending with Lorimer SideStreets and one just went up today for Orca Books.  I am thrilled with what Orca chose for my cover and tagline: Cue the Conflict: Family versus Passion!  Wow!  March 22, 2016 is the release date but you can check it out before then on their website: http://www.orcabook.com/productdetails.cfm?PC=2206

Waiting for inspiration for my next novel or poem! Hope something comes soon as I return to work in September!

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13. So close!

I can smell the finish line! Must be tired as I’m using mixed metaphors. I have one set of edits left to complete. A few tough spots have me sweating but I now have until Monday to sort them out.

Two things helped me stay on task today: a great message from my cousin on his recent read of Living Rough, and my editor at Orca, Melanie Jeffs, asked for my dedication and acknowledgements for On Cue! Can’t wait to see what the fabulous team at Orca picked for the cover!!

Now back to work!

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14. Comment on Writes of Spring by jadegraham816

The best ideas seem to come when I am at high speeds and can’t pull over to write them down. ratemywriters

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15. A Month in the Life of An Author


Bulletin Board Queen Mary School in North Vancouver

Before I begin, I will say it is more like… the life of an author over six weeks and a bit.  From the middle of April to the first week in May, I only came up for air when I had to work at my regular job.  The job that isn’t called, Author, but Teacher.  I love both jobs but typically try to do my writing over the school breaks.  Then I have what I call ‘brain space’ for creating. But, this past Spring is the busiest I have ever been as a writer.  I had two deadlines with two different publishers for two unique books.  Orca wanted my first draft of the MS by April 15th and Lorimer was still considering whether my book could fit their Sidestreets, so the editor there, had given me a May 5th deadline.

I was back and forth between two stories.  One with a heavy theme of self-harm and one with a more lighthearted message, but still complicated in terms of characterization.  I wanted my secondary character to ring true for a boy with autism.  So, I split my brain, so to speak, between both story lines and jumped back and forth as deadlines approached.  As well as writing, I continued to work three days a week in Langley facilitating Peace Circles with several elementary classes. And on May 14th, I hosted Open Mic at the Pelican Rouge, where I wanted to be sure we could continue offering this great opportunity to writers in the Fall, with the new owners.  Good news on that front – we will return in the Fall.  Celebrating our Patron of the Arts, Shelly O’brien, will happen June 11th.

I met with two writers who appreciated encouragement, along with suggestions, for contests and places to share their words. Each time we met, I was inspired, too!  I edited two picture book MS’s and sent them off the first week in May.  ’The Potato Sack Dress’ I sent to Second Story Press and ‘O, What Are You?’ I sent to Owlkids Books.  I’m not sure what possessed me to work on those stories when I was deep in editing my two YA hi-lo novels, but I guess I was motivated by all the time I spent writing!

For May I have continued with editing sometimes as early as 5am before work and coming straight home to my writing room and continuing until 10pm at night.  I am cramped in my shoulders and neck from so much time spent sitting at the computer but every round of edits helps to build and improve the stories.  June 2nd I sent the next draft to Lorimer and now can relax for a few weeks before round three begins.  I have prepared an author presentation for a school in Surrey and I enjoyed participating as an Author for Indies on May 2nd.  See their link here: http://www.authorsforindies.com/#!british-columbia/c6zp

All this hard work pays off!!  The picture accompanying this entry is from a school in North Vancouver.  The students of the Grade 6/7 class at Queen Mary Elementary read ‘Living Rough’ and created a ‘book in the bag’ project.  The teacher-candidate, Mr. Fong, along with his sponsor teacher Mrs. Clausen, sent me this photo of their final projects on display.  The bags have pictures depicting scenes from the book, as well as information and notes they took while reading.  Five to six items were placed in each bag that related to a theme or feeling from the story. Attached to the email I received, were six letters from students with comments and questions about the book.  As an author, this is the best award one can receive.  Hearing from students who engaged in your story!  So thank you to the teachers and students at Queen Mary Elementary.  You made my month!!

Now to read six YA novels I am judging for a contest for Indie Authors!

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16. Server Down – Bad Gateway

That has been the message the past SEVERAL times I tried to log on to my account to update my posts. I have incurred a great deal of traffic (well, great for me) and I have been mortified that my most recent post was from January.

Trust that I planned to post many notes since then but all in vain, as I could not access my page. Success now and I am happy to report I have enjoyed several activities on the writer’s front since my last message.

Two weeks ago, I pushed ‘send’ on my MS for Melanie Jeffs, my editor at Orca. My third book in the Orca Currents is ready for her editorial comments and will be published in the Spring of 2016. Being the first time I had a ‘yes’ before I finished the book, I have now spent two weeks with anxiety as I wait to hear her thoughts. I had a hard time keeping my secondary character from hi-jacking the story! Toby was great fun to write and I hope this book surprises and delights the audience.

I am going to push ‘send’ this evening on another hi-lo YA book for Kat, the editor at Lorimer. If it meets with her approval, we will begin edits and this book could be on store shelves by Spring 2016, as well.

Last quick updates: I enjoyed participating once again in the CV2-2 Day Poem Contest. This year, ham and appliances were the two words that I struggled with as I finished a poem in 48 hours! Stay tuned for updates (particularly for those of you who like the opportunity to vote on your favourite selections).  I also had a great time ‘hanging out’ and supporting our local Independent Book Store as part of ‘Authors for Indies’ Day! Thanks, Black Bond Books (Semiahmoo Mall, South Surrey, BC) for letting me visit for a few hours. Even bought two books!

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17. Book Three in the Orca Currents Series!

My editor, Melanie Jeffs phoned with good news a few weeks before Christmas to let me know that Orca will publish my latest YA hi-lo novel in the Currents Series for Spring 2016. Even better news is that this marks my first YES when the book isn’t finished. The outline is complete but only the first 8 chapters were ready for her to see and they were still in their ‘raw’/un-edited stage. I’ve since written three more chapters so I am making progress. My deadline is April 15th and I am happy to say I reached my New Year’s Resolution from last year to get another book published. It has been a few years so I am happy this all worked out!

My book is called, ‘On Cue’ and this is the first time I didn’t have to consider changing the title! My character takes a Drama class at school and the play they decide to do is by William Shakespeare. Hope I can connect all the dots and make it work!

Now to get back to writing! Happy New Year to all!

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18. Upcoming author activities

December 5th I will be presenting a workshop on getting published to Earl Marriot students in the Creative Writing Class. A wonderful discussion at the Surrey International Writer’s Conference with a student in the class, prompted this visit.

Sometime in the near future I will skype in to a Surrey school for an author ‘visit’ and January 13th I will do a Poetry Workshop with a class of Grade 6 students at Yorkson Middle School in Langley.

February 15th, 2-4pm, Friends of the White Rock Library will host an ‘Author’s Open House’ with several local writers involved.

I am currently waiting to hear back from three publishers on four separate Hi-Lo novels and one picture book, as well as waiting to hear if I made the shortlist for Hedgebrook, a writer’s retreat! Fingers crossed for good news on at least one front!

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19. Friday the 13th – lucky or… no?

Wanted to post this message on Friday but couldn’t log onto my account.  Because of the 13th?  Maybe it wasn’t just me?

I have decided that although I am not keen on form letters from publishers, I would like to have them, afterall!  I have two Manuscripts out with publishers who say on their websites that if you haven’t heard from them within 6 months, assume they do not want your work.  Well, given that I sent 3 poems in to a contest with the theme of ‘lost and found’ and my poetry got lost, only to be found on the day they announced the winners, maybe I should be concerned?  Assume – that means I can assume they actually received my MS in the first place.  What if they didn’t?  What if it got lost in the mail, like my poetry and ended up on the wrong desk or the wrong inbox?  What if the MS fell into an empty space on the truck and is still there now?  Being born on a Friday the 13th, I find strange things happen to me all the time, so it is not impossible that my work is not where it should be!!  And even if the publisher says no, it could be because they just published a similar story, which leaves me with some promise for the merit of my work.  But no response, leaves one with many questions and no answers.  Hrmmmph!

On a lighter note, I had a fabulous time on Friday the 13th reading at an event put together by Pandora’s Collective, so authors of poems in the CV2 2-day contest could hear one another’s work.  Keeps us going until the winner is announced on July 1st.  Heidi Greco and I shared our work and marveled at the great uses of ‘putative’, ‘cramp’ and ‘booster’.  Heidi is also the author I tagged in the ‘Blog Hop’, so please check out her page. She did a MUCH better job than I did of sharing her message and highlighting other authors!!  http://outonthebiglimb.blogspot.ca/

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20. Comment on Open Mic Tonight! by cristy watson

Please note – just for April the Open Mic date has changed. It is now April 4th. Also, as April is National Poetry Month, the Open MIc will be dedicated to poetry only. Hope to see you at the Pelican Rouge!

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21. Comment on Welcome readers, writers and friends! by Maria Siccardi

I love to read and I love your books and poetry. Carry on writing, because you are good!!

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