Featured CWILLer: K.A. Wiggins (Kaie)

Here’s the next in our series of profiles on CWILL members:

Hi, Kaie! Please give us your quick bio.

I write speculative fiction for kids, teens, and adults/all-ages that’s (so far) either eerie, funny, or both at once—and mostly set in BC.

I like to take on new challenges, so I’m always hopping between (or mashing up) genres, writing in different formats and lengths, and publishing for different audiences. It’s chaotic, but it works for me (and I never get bored!)

Lately I’ve been having a lot of fun with the weird and wonderful possibilities of short fiction (readers tend to throw things at you if you get too experimental in novel-length works…)

But I do a lot of publishing-adjacent work as well—leading CWILL BC and championing children’s literacy and BC authors and illustrators and their books, serving on the board of directors with Word Vancouver Festival of Readers and Writers, and teaching with the Creative Writing for Children Society.

It turns out I’m part of that fraction of the population that isn’t scared of public speaking (or I’ve just learned to productively harness terror-fuelled adrenaline) and I love sharing what I’ve learned, so it all works out!

How long have you been a member of CWILL BC?
I joined CWILL in 2019 after being invited to speak at a children’s literature festival in Mumbai. I had so much fun, I figured why not look for ways to get more connected with the children’s literature community back home?

But since I’m not really a “joiner” by nature, the only way I could think of to make being a member worthwhile was to start volunteering (so I’d be forced to talk to people and show up at events!) The board was looking for a Treasurer at the time, so I’ve been a director basically since the start.

Then, since there was no VP in line for president at the time the last president was ready to step down, I got an unexpected promotion in 2021. It’s been an interesting (and busy!) time getting to know CWILL and the wider BC arts community while keeping all the balls in the air, but I’m proud to be part of such a fantastic group of people and excited to help our members and their books connect with more readers.

Tell us a little about yourself. What led you to writing and/or illustrating for children? Was it a lifelong passion? Something you discovered later on in life?
I was instantly obsessed with reading (to a probably unhealthy level), read young and above my grade level, and probably should have known earlier that I was going to become an author by the way I narrated absolutely everything to myself (silently!), made up urban legends at school and for my younger siblings, and would put myself to sleep by imagining self-insert adventures from whatever book had last captured my attention.

I had a fantastic teacher in middle school who really helped me see myself as a writer, and that was when I started working on novels and submitting stories to competitions. I had big dreams heading out of high school that got buried by the grind of putting myself through university and kind of accidentally building a corporate marketing and business analysis career in Vancouver (it paid the bills . . .)

But, having gotten started early on that career, by my later 20s I was already bumping into the glass ceiling. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately, from their perspective), my family sat me down and asked me what I wanted to do before I bruised myself much further. That really brought me up short—and put me back on track with a goal I’d had since middle school, but hadn’t felt like I had permission to pursue.

As far as the writing for children part, I really enjoy upper MG/teen through YA books and that’s always been what I gravitated toward (maybe it’s a natural flair for angst—and/or humour?), so if anything, writing for adults is something that I’m still discovering the ins and outs of.

Tell us about your latest publication. 
Technically, my last publication was “Children of Earth” in Fantasy Magazine (Issue 90/April 2023.) It was longlisted in the 2023 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, took an Honourable Mention in the 2022 Writers of the Future Awards, and is my first piece available as an audiobook, so I’m quite proud of it. But while it’s fairly kid-safe, it’s technically adult/all-ages.

In children’s publishing, I’ve been wrapping up the Threads of Dreams “climate apocalypse + monsters in dystopian Vancouver” gothic YA Fantasy series. The main (novelette) trilogy was released from 2018-2021, but there have been several short stories, novelettes, and a novella, and I just did a spinoff micro-trilogy of novelettes from a side character’s perspective called Spectres of the Old World in January-February 2023 that hops between post-apocalyptic Powell River and Vancouver.

I’m actually presenting on the subject of apocalyptic, dystopian, and utopian futures in children’s & YA literature and how they illustrate better possibilities, expose and bring catharsis to current realities, and confront trauma in June at the University of British Columbia Masters of Children’s Literature (Re)Imagining Tomorrow: Agency and Possibility in Literature and Media for Children and Young Adults Conference, so I’ll be drawing heavily on lessons learned, excerpts, and research materials from that series in my presentation.

What are you currently working on? Anything you can share with us?

I always have lots (too much?) on the go, so my current (accidental) obsession is a high fantasy about grass-haired people at war with the mossfolk, which is pushing back the launch of my next series, a murder mystery-meets-urban fantasy with rockstars, fae, and a Supernatural-esque monster-fighting road trip across the Pacific Northwest/BC inspired by Thomas the Rhymer, Tam Lin, Cainsville, and Ragged & Gallow. But both of those projects are looking like adult or new adult releases.

In kidlit, I have an upper MG/junior history-hopping teen ghost story set in Chilliwack waiting for some love, but it’s so hard to carve out the time! My first (YA) series was set roughly 100 years in the future of BC, so it was fun to take little glimpses into the last 100 years for some of the scenes. Although, the fascinating yet tough thing about history is it also shows the seeds of so many of today’s problems. But I had a good time balancing out heavier themes with humour in a way that is a little harder to do in upper teen and adult/all ages writing. The skeleton dog has been a definite hit with my first readers! Here’s hoping I find time and the right place to share this lightly spooky contemporary paranormal tale soon.

Do you do school or library visits? Tell us a little bit about what teachers, librarians, and kids can expect during one of your visits.

Teaching, speaking, and running workshops is something I never expected to fall in love with, but it turns out to be one of my favourite parts of being an author. I’ve developed my own curriculum and taught camps and term-length intensive workshops, as well as being a guest speaker for various institutions, so I have a wealth of material to draw on, spanning genres (fantasy, sci-fi, horror, etc.) and writing/publishing/storytelling topics.

Fun workshops or presentations that can be adapted for multiple grade levels (up to and including adult!) include “ghosts of the past” (exploring local history by injecting fun or frightening creative additions), “monsters and magic” (spooky or magical, based on preference), or “dreaming the future” (climate fiction, STEM/eco, utopias, dystopias & apocalypse stories) I bring a great deal of enthusiasm, respect, and encouragement to my presentations, which range widely depending on the age, size, and interests of any given group.

In general, I like to share what I’ve learned and help young readers and emerging writers grow their skills and tell their own stories, rather than focusing too much on an “author reading” from my own books. I particularly enjoy working with teens, including the ones who aren’t strong or confident readers or writers, and love using story structure and genre topics to engage them in creativity without the pressure of “homework” and having to actually muddle through the writing part dampening their story inspiration. I find treating attendees with warmth, enthusiasm, and respect unlocks creativity in all ages, levels of academic achievement, and attitudes.

Schools, libraries, festivals, etc. interested in learning more and/or discussing their needs can check out my speaker’s profiles on CWILL BC and The Writers Union of Canada, or on my website.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself.

I was deeply into music as a kid, and I’ve had to make the tough choice between focusing on becoming a “rockstar” (more likely, music teacher) or “writer” at a few points over the years. Only so much time to pursue impossible dreams in one day! I think I made the right choice. :)

Recommendations: What do you Love?

I read so much this is really an impossible question to narrow down, but Tolkien, Lewis, L’Engle and Diana Wynne Jones (with special shoutouts to Canadian authors O.R. Melling and Monica Hughes!) were early inspirations, Brenna Yovanoff, Laini Taylor, and Holly Black are YA goals, and I recently fell in love with local author Sebastien de Castell’s intelligent mix of dark fantasy and humour. Obsessed with Seanan McGuire’s mind-blowing range.

In CanLit, Kelley Armstrong, Louise Penny, and David A. Robertson always deliver fantastic reads, and I adore the eerie vibes of Mahtab Narsimhan and Nancy Vo’s kids’ books.

If you could be one character from a children’s book, who would you choose and why?

I used to spend a lot of time racing up and down the playground yelling battle cries and pretending to be Martin the Warrior from Redwall, but in hindsight I’d probably choose someone with less fur and a little more height. Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle?

If you could go live in one children’s book, where would you choose and why?

Maybe something from Diana Wynne Jones—lightly magical and a bit pastoral? But then there’s time-travel, or undersea adventures . . . so hard to choose! I’d definitely want to go somewhere other, no sticking around in plain old reality for me.

What’s one piece of advice you want to share with young writers and aspiring authors or illustrators?

If there’s something you love or feel determined about, don’t let anybody tell you it shouldn’t be that way. There’s a lot of well-meaning advice out there about how to make your creative work “better,” and especially when you’re starting out, you can feel like everyone else knows best. But fighting for what you care about (and keeping it weird!) is what makes your work uniquely yours, interesting, and worth sharing. (Also: unless you’re writing diary entries for your own satisfaction, share your work with an audience, don’t hide it!)

Where can people find you online?

My website: kawiggins.com

CWILL BC: Speaker’s Profile

Writers Union of Canada: Speaker’s Profile

My books: universal links

Goodreads: @kaiespace

Bookbub: @k-a-wiggins

Instagram: @kaie.space

Facebook: @kaiespace

Pinterest: @kaiespace

LinkedIn: @kaiedesign

MailChimp: semi-monthly newsletter

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All the Awards | 2022 Edition

We’re so proud of our illustrators and authors who made it onto the awards circuit in 2022!

We hope this list of notable and award-winning children’s books by BC authors and illustrators is helpful for teachers, librarians, and book lovers. You can also browse collections of BC books for kids by new release year, awards, set-in-BC/Canada, age range, and more on our Pinterest “Shelves” & New & Upcoming Release Database.

2022 nominations, shortlists, and wins are listed in alphabetical order of CWILLers’ last name below:

Caroline Adderson

Izzy in the Doghouse (Kids Can Press, 2020)

BC Chocolate Lily Awards 2022 Shortlist

Pierre & Paul: Dragon! (Owlkids Books, 2021)

BC Chocolate Lily Awards 2022 Picture Book Category Nominee

Sunny Days Inside and Other Stories (Groundwood Books, 2021)

Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Awards 2022 Diamond Willow Award Finalist

BC Chocolate Lily Awards 2022/2023 Novel Category Shortlist

2022 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award Nominee

Young Readers’ Choice Book Awards of British Columbia 2022/2023 Red Cedar Award Nominee

2023 Rocky Mountain Book Award Nominee

Angela Ahn

Peter Lee’s Notes from the Field (Tundra Books, 2021)

BC and Yukon Book Prizes 2022 Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize Winner

(Previously: Finalist for the 2021 Governor General’s Literary Awards, 2021 Silver Birch Fiction Award® Nominee in Forest of Reading)

Nikki Bergstresser

Abbotsford Arts Council Arty Awards 2022 Literary Arts Winner (pictured left)

M. Louise Cadrin

The Starchild of Atarashara: The Field of Unlimited Possibilities (2018)

2022 Book Excellence Award Fantasy Category Finalist

Sara Cassidy

Genius Jolene (Orca Book Publishers, 2020)

2022 BC Chocolate Lily Awards Finalist

(Previously: Winner of the 2021 Sheila A. Egofff Children’s Literature Prize, 2021 Silver Birch Express Award Nominee)

Rachelle Delaney

Alice Fleck’s Recipes for Disaster (Puffin Canada, 2021)

Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Awards 2022 Diamond Willow Awards Finalist

BC Chocolate Lily Awards 2022 Novel Category Nominee

(Previously: 2021 Silver Birch Express Award Nominee in Forest of Reading)

Lee Edward Födi

Spell Sweeper (HarperCollins Publishers, 2021)

CCBC Book Awards 2022 Arlene Barlin Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy Finalist

Leslie Gentile

Elvis, Me, and the Lemonade Stand Summer (DCB Young Readers, 2021)

CCBC Book Awards 2022 Jean Little First-Novel Award Winner

Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People 2022 Finalist

Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Awards 2022 Diamond Willow Awards Finalist

2022 Forest of Reading Silver Birch Award Finalist

(Previously: Winner of the 2021 City of Victoria Children’s Book Prize, Finalist for the 2022 Rocky Mountain Book Award)

Kallie George

Crimson Twill (Candlewick, 2022)

2022 Cybils Awards Winner

Forest of Reading 2023 Silver Birch Express Nominee

The Secret Fawn (Tundra Books, 2021)

BC and Yukon Book Prizes 2022 Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize Finalist

BC Chocolate Lily Awards 2022 Picture Book Category Nominee

Shane Goth

The Midnight Club (Owlkids Books, 2021)

BC and Yukon Book Prizes 2022 Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize Finalist

Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Awards 2022 Shining Willow Awards Finalist

Shari Green

Missing Mike (Pajama Press, 2018)

BC Chocolate Lily Awards 2022 Novel Category Winner

2021-2022 Lectio Book Award Nominee

(Previously: 2021 Kentucky Bluegrass Award, 2021 Iowa Teen Award, 2020-2021 SYRCA Diamond Willow Award, 2020 Rocky Mountain Book Award, 2020 Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award (Sundogs), 2020 Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award, 2020 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award, 2019-2020 Surrey Schools Book of the Year nominee, 2019 Forest of Reading Silver Birch Fiction Award Honour Book)

Robert Heidbreder

Our Corner Store (Groundwood Books, 2020)

CCBC Book Awards 2022 David Booth Children’s and Youth Poetry Award Finalist

Nancy Hundal

Saturday at the Garage (Midtown Press, 2020)

BC Chocolate Lily Awards 2022 Finalist

Sarah Leach

Penguin Days (Pajama Press, 2018, 2nd in series)

Chocolate Lily Awards 2022 Finalist

Duck Days (Pajama Press, 2020, 3rd in series)

BC Chocolate Lily Awards 2022 Chapter Book/Early Novels Category Shortlist

(Previously: Silver Birch Express Award Nominee in Forest of Reading)

Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Me and Banksy (Penguin Random House, 2020)

BC Chocolate Lily Awards 2022 Finalist

Our Green City (Kids Can Press, 2022)

Blueberry Changemakers Award 2022 Winner

Snoozefest: The Surprising Science of Sleep (Kids Can Press, 2021)

2023 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books Finalist

Forest of Reading 2023 Yellow Cedar Nominee

Gina McMurchy-Barber

The Jigsaw Puzzle King (Dundurn Press, 2020)

BC Chocolate Lily Award 2022 Winner

(Previously: Winner of the 2021 Silver Birch Fiction Award, 2022 Diamond Willow Award Shortlist, 2022 Rocky Mountain Book Award Nominee)

Mahtab Narsimhan

Valley of the Rats (DCB, 2021)

BC Chocolate Lily Awards 2022 Novel Category Shortlisted

Barbara Nickel

Dear Peter, Dear Ulla (Thistledown Press, 2021)

2022 High Plains Book Award Children’s Category Winner

CCBC Book Awards 2022 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People Finalist

BC and Yukon Book Prizes 2022 Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize Finalist

2023 Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award Nominee

Rocky Mountain Book Award Nominee

Catarina Oliveira (Illustrator)

Small but Mighty—Why Earth’s Tiny Creatures Matter (Owlkids Books, 2021)

2022/23 Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award Shortlisted

Rachel Poliquin

The Museum of Odd Body Leftovers: A Tour of Your Useless Parts, Flaws, and Other Weird Bits (Greystone Books, 2022)

Cybils Awards Finalist

Rowena Rae

Upstream, Downstream: Exploring Watershed Connections (Orca Book Publishers, 2021)

The Nature Generation 2022 Green Book Award Longlisted

Zoe Si

Pulitzer Prize in Illustrated Reporting and Commentary 2022 Finalist for her pandemic cartoons in the New Yorker

(Photo Credit: Alexa Mazzarello Photography)

Mark David Smith (Author) & Kari Rust (Illustrator)

The Weird Sisters: A Note, A Goat, and a Casserole (Owlkids Books, 2022)

Cybils Awards Finalist

Jane Whittingham

Animals Move (Pajama Press, 2022)

Cybils Awards Finalist

CLEL Bells Awards: PLAY Category Shortlisted

K.A. Wiggins

Blind the Eyes (Snowmelt & Stumps, 2018)

Whistler Independent Book Awards 2022 Shortlisted

(Previously: Reader Views 2021-2022 Literary Awards Bronze in Children’s Books Classics (pre-2021 releases), 2020 Page Turner Awards Book Spotlight Prize Winner)

Posted in awards, BC Book Prizes, CWILL BC news & events, information books, juvenile fiction, latest news, non-fiction, novels, picture books, readBC, Uncategorized, young adult literature | 1 Comment

Read Local! 2023 Spring Preview

Special thanks to The British Columbia Library Association Young Adults and Children’s Section (YAACS) for the opportunity to pop into their 2023 Youth Services Institute day for a lightning talk!

Watch the replay for a sneak peek at some of the 2023 new and upcoming releases we’re most excited for, along with a quick overview of bringing BC kidlit authors, illustrators & books into libraries, schools and institutions!

And don’t miss links to all the amazing free resources (including our rapidly growing 2023 release list!) mentioned in the video in our Resource Hub.

Posted in books/writing, CWILL BC news & events, graphic novels, illustration, information books, juvenile fiction, latest news, libraries & librarians, library visits, new publications, non-fiction, novels, picture books, presentations, readBC, Spring Book Hatching, young adult literature | Leave a comment

So you want to get published…

Here at CWILL, we get a lot of questions about getting published, which is one of the reasons we host an annual panel event with the Vancouver Public Library—we’ll give you the insider perspective! So don’t hesitate, sign up now to join six of our authors and illustrators for an online discussion on how they broke into this exciting and competitive field. 

When: March 14, 2023, 7:00pm-8:30pm
Where: Online event

Ask questions and get practical information on topics such as:

  • How to improve your writing
  • How to find a publisher and submit your work
  • What agents do
  • What to look for in a book contract
  • What the financial rewards are. 

Panelists include Darlene FosterSima Elizabeth ShefrinMark David SmithJane Whittingham, and Pam Withers. The panel will be moderated by Ellen Schwartz, author of seventeen books for children, from picture books to early chapter books to teen novels and non-fiction. 

Access this free panel via VPL’s event page.

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Help the Lyceum grow new roots

A Vancouver literary institution needs some support! 

A sudden, steep rental increase has threatened the existence of a well-loved centre for arts and literature. Christianne’s Lyceum of Literature and Art—like many Vancouver businesses in similar situations—considered closing.

The Lyceum needs to raise $60,000 to help stay in business and re-root itself in a new location. We know this is possible with the community’s help.

What will the funds be used for?

Your gift will be used for moving costs and to complete necessary renovations to the new space.

What is the Lyceum and why is it so special?

For almost two decades, thousands of children, families, and individuals have come to rely on Christianne’s Lyceum of Literature and Art as a hub of creation, learning, and possibility, as well as a place to feel at home away from home. The Lyceum embodies community-building in the truest sense.

Through creative programming that draws connections between literature and what’s going on in the outside world, the Lyceum encourages children to see themselves as readers, writers, and artists engaging with ideas and reflecting on their own place in society.

Many have come to know the Lyceum as a cozy living room, a specialized library, a well-equipped studio and a whimsical art gallery all wrapped up into one. It is here that literature is transformed into experience, and experience is transformed into literature through passionate discourse. Literature, in all its representations, is a powerful tool in creating socially conscious societies committed to non-binary ways of problem solving the complexities we face as a world.

Who attends the Lyceum?

The Lyceum is an inclusive centre that welcomes all learners regardless of any challenges they may face. A well-trained staff, backed with rich and varied resources, is ready for whomever steps through the door. Children (from ages 1 to young adult) engage in early childhood education, book clubs, programs for home learners, writers’ workshops and literature-based art camps.

The Lyceum also invites adults to participate in writers’ workshops, “meet the author” book clubs, open mic, parent education workshops and professional development workshops. Please see http://www.christianneslyceum.com for more about these offerings.

The Lyceum appreciates every donation—thank you!

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CWILL BC 2022 Releases

Our members (and their publishers!) have been hard at work this year.

We’re proud to see over 70 titles (including a solid collection of sweet-and-spooky Halloween-ready books!) by BC authors and illustrators published across all juvenile age ranges and categories.

Looking to add more quality kidlit to your shelves?

Posted in books/writing, CWILL BC news & events, Fall Book Harvest, information books, juvenile fiction, latest news, new publications, non-fiction, novels, picture books, readBC, young adult literature | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment