A writer from a tender age: Kallie George, by Pam Withers

It may have started with a houseguest who happened to be a children’s writer. Kallie George was five years old when she shyly spied on the family friend creating a children’s book.

Or it may have been her indulgent father (founder of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee), who loved telling her made-up stories as much as he loved encouraging her to make up her own. Her family home, which included her parents and a younger brother, was well filled with books and reading.

For sure it was a Christmas gift she made in fourth grade that nudged her towards becoming a writer: She decided to create a story for family members, which she photocopied so that each received a copy. That became an annual holiday tradition right through 12th grade.

Finally, there was her Croatian grandfather, who hand-wrote before typing up crime novels in his retirement, but gave up sending them out after one rejection.

“You are definitely going to be a writer,” he told his granddaughter, who in high school was already submitting novels to big publishing houses and collecting her own rejection slips.

“No! No!” she insisted. “I’m going to be an actress!”

He loved rubbing in the fact he was right when she finally published her first book in 2010.

Born and raised on the Sunshine Coast, Kallie George (now 33) is the award-winning author of 12 picture and chapter books. They include Secrets I Know; Duck, Duck Dinosaur; and the Heartwood Hotel (“Downton Abbey meets the Tale of Peter Rabbit”) and The Magical Animal Adoption Agency series. Her publishers include Disney-Hyperion, HarperCollins and Schwartz & Wade (US).

After studying English and art history as an undergrad, Kallie earned a Masters in Children’s Literature at UBC and began by editing for Simply Read Books, which published her first picture books.

It was around then she met her husband, who works in the film industry, in a whimsical way.

“Eight years ago I was writing a story in a café right after a guitar lesson,” Kallie says. “I was smiling out the window because I was excited about the story.” A young man passing by caught her smile, assumed it was for him and entered the eatery to ask her out. They’ve been married four years now. “He has a wonderful creative spirit and that’s something we share.”

Although writing takes up an increasing portion of her time, Kallie also edits for Greystone Books and leads creative writing workshops through Capilano University, Emily Carr University, and Creative Writing for Children Society of Vancouver.

She has a middle-grade novel coming out in 2018, followed by its sequel the next year. “I find writing for the older grades more difficult, but I appreciate the challenge. I would like to keep exploring the many genres of children’s literature.”

Kallie credits CWILL BC with “great friendships and a sense of how to do school visits and residencies.”

Between perspective she has gleaned from fellow CWILLers, her lifetime of reading and writing, and her successful career, here are some nuggets of wisdom Kallie likes to share:

“A good story is a good story. If you try to follow trends or marketing, you might not be writing the best story you can.”

“Publishing is all about perseverance. The more you work on your story, the more you polish your writing, the more you LOVE writing, the easier the publishing part will be.”

“A new idea is the best gift in the world to a writer.”

“Writing works best when I let my ideas simmer – and plot them out.”

“Oftentimes, my first scenes are just dreadful, but as long as the germ of the idea is there, I know I can work on them until the writing itself is polished to how I like it.”

“The arts can help inspire young people to express their own experiences and emotions, as well as help young people understand and empathize with experiences that they haven’t had.”

“Stories are my whole life.”

Pam Withers has written
17 young-adult adventure novels.

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Nominations – 2019 Chocolate Lily Book Award

The Chocolate Lily Book Award is accepting submissions for 2019!

Submission Deadline: January 31, 2018

Submission Criteria:

Children’s book created by a BC author or illustrator. Authors and illustrators who have lived in BC for 3 out of the last 5 years qualify for this award.

  1. We have three categories in Children’s fiction: Picture book, Chapter Book/Early Novel -suitable for Gr 2 – Gr 4 readers and Novels – suitable for Grades 4 – 7. (If you’re unsure whether a chapter book is suitable, you may wish to submit it.  If you’re uncertain whether a picture book qualifies as a fictional story because it’s fiction within nonfiction facts, you may wish to submit it.  Our jury has short listed several picture books that could be considered nonfiction.)
  2. Publication year: Must have a 2017 imprint or earlier

Submission Entry Fee:

Please include a $30 entry fee per title submitted. (Note that the maximum entry fee will be $200 per publishing company). Payable to: Chocolate Lily Awards.

Please submit 7 copies of each title. For submission information, please see the Chocolate Lily Book Awards website: http://www.chocolatelilyawards.com/publisher-info/

— Harmina Jansen
Chocolate Lily Submissions Coordinator

— Karen Ehrenholz
Teacher & Founder of Chocolate Lily Book Awards

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VCLR Illustrator’s Breakfast – October 14th, 2017

Binky the Space Cat? Small Saul? Yup, Ashley Spires is coming to breakfast!

What’s the most magnificent thing you can do on Saturday, October 14th? Join us for the Annual Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable (VCLR) Illustrator’s Breakfast featuring Ashley Spires:

October 14, 2017 | 8:00 am -12:00 pm
University Golf Club | 5185 University Blvd, Vancouver
Members $65 | Non Members $80 | Students $40

Registration starts at 8 am. Welcome remarks and breakfast start at 8:45 am. Your ticket price includes a delicious hot breakfast buffet (with vegetarian options), a talk by Ashley Spires, book sales and silent auction. Ashley will sign books at the end of the program.

Author and illustrator Ashley Spires grew up in Tsawwassen, BC. After stints living in Toronto and Saskatoon, she now lives in Ladner, having made an educated decision to never move from BC again. She is the creator of the Binky the Space Cat series of junior graphic novels and the new spin-off, Fluffy Strikes Back. Her award winning picture books, include TD Grade One Giveaway book Small Saul and bestseller The Most Magnificent Thing. When not drawing she is often jogging with her dog Gordon or wrangling her cats, Fran, Penny and Mina.


— Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable

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Cozy Readings at Christianne’s Lyceum – Word Vancouver 2017

CWILL BC authors read to a crowd of pyjama-clad kids (and a few pyjama-clad parents, as well) at an event at Christianne’s Lyceum during Word Vancouver 2017.

Kallie George won over readers with her Heartwood Hotel series. She even brought along a miniature replica of the Heartwood, complete with animal hotel rooms.

Tanya Lloyd Kyi told ninja tales from her new picture book Shadow Warrior, and Rachelle Delaney ended the evening with tales of circus skills (or characters with a lack thereof) from The Bonaventure Adventures.

— Tanya Lloyd Kyi

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Word Vancouver 2017 – Journeys of the Imagination

Throngs of literature lovers pressed into tents and crowded the streets around the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library Sunday to catch a glimpse of or hear a word from their often unseen heroes and heroines. These heroes were not necessarily caped superstars but they did use their magical abilities to transport audiences to other realms, to take them on journeys of the imagination through the delight of a story.

CWILL at Imagination Island: (standing) Children’s authors Janet M. Whyte and Anita Miettunen; (seated) Master’s student in Children’s Literature Valeria de la Vega and Kathryn Shoemaker, Illustrator, Author, and Professor, Master’s in Children’s Literature Program.

CWILL BC Society authors and illustrators have long been a part of the WORD Vancouver festival, Western Canada’s largest annual celebration of literacy and reading. The CWILL panel opened the day offering tales of woe, humour and celebration around the joys of getting published. The conversations touched on some of the very non-superheroish sides of being a writer… rejection letters and what to do with them (some keep them while others take note of them, then rip them up and bury them in the backyard). The panel also provided encouragement and insight into the business and creative sides of writing. “Do I need an agent?” “Tell us about the submission process.” “What is the most rewarding part of being an author?” These were all questions posed by a creative and curious audience. Special thanks to Rachelle Delaney, Linda DeMeulemeester, Lee Edward Fodi, Anita Miettunen, and Beryl Young for participating in CWILL’s panel.

As far as CWILL literary superheroes go… there were many. You just had to stroll down the street and at every given hour there was a familiar face, book in hand, stirring hearts and minds as he or she read from their latest publication and detailed how the story had been born.

The atmosphere was playful and one full of delight, inquiry and connection. The CWILL table on Imagination Island saw a steady stream of families coming to chat to authors, create a bookmark or try their hand at making an artful “I Am” poetry collage. Thanks to Jami Gigot, Cindy Heinrichs, Anita Miettunen, Kathie Shoemaker, and Janet Whyte for manning the volunteer table and letting people know about all of the great work CWILL writers and illustrators do and can do in the community!

Words for WORD: fun, engaging, creative, magical, inspiring, informative, enlightening – and it all happened “on the street.”

— Lori Sherritt-Fleming

P.S. Many, many thanks to Lori Sherritt-Fleming – CWILL’s WORD Vancouver organizer, enthusiastic Getting Started panelist, and denizen of Imagination Island!

— Janet M. Whyte


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CWILL BC at Word Vancouver – September 24th, 2017

Join CWILL BC at Word Vancouver on Sunday, September 24th, 2017! Don’t miss our panel – Getting Started: Children’s Writers and Illustrators Discuss Getting Published – with Linda DeMeulemeester, Rachelle Delaney, Anita Miettunen, Beryl Young, Lee Edward Fodi, and Lori Sherritt-Fleming (11 am at The Quay) and readings by children’s authors Dan Bar-el and Mahtab Narsimhan. And don’t forget to drop by CWILL’s table at Imagination Island!

The big festival day happens on September 24 in and around the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library (350 W Georgia St.). From 11 am – 5 pm, take in free readings, panel discussions, writing workshops, site performers, family activities, an exhibitor marketplace, and more. Canadian authors, as well as book, magazine, comics, education, and literacy exhibitors will gather to celebrate our region’s thriving literature and literacy communities. Activities and fun for all ages!

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