Category Archives: Lost on the Prairie

I Didn’t Win But……….

Yesterday when the winner of the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book at the Manitoba Book Awards was announced I found out I hadn’t won but……….

It was a dream come true to be nominated.

I want to express my gratitude to McNally Robinson Booksellers for the way they promoted my book both before and after it was nominated.

I want to express my appreciation to the jurors Gary Draper, Savannah Kosteniuk and Brock Peters for reading Lost on the Prairie and nominating it.

I want to say congratulations to Jillian Horton and Rowan McCandless who were the co-winners of the Best First Book Prize.

I want to thank all my readers and friends and family for celebrating my nomination with me.

A card my talented friend Debbie Jackson made to celebrate my Manitoba Book Award and Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award nominations.

When the results of the Manitoba Book Awards were announced yesterday I found out I hadn’t won.

But……… later in the day, I got a note from a woman I went to college with who had given my book to her granddaughter. She wrote…….

My 10-year-old granddaughter, Sophia, who is an avid reader, told me Lost on the Prairie is the best book she’s read. I’d call that a pretty solid endorsement.

I may not have won the book award yesterday but Sophia and all the other people who have read my book have made me feel like a real winner.

Other posts………..

It Was Bittersweet

What A Week You’ve Had

An Amazing Birthday Gift For My Novel

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So Much Novel News

So many things have happened with my novel Lost on the Prairie since it was announced as the nominee for two awards earlier this month that I needed to do a blog post just to draw everything together so I don’t forget about anything.

When Lost on the Prairie was published a year ago it made the bestseller list at McNally Robinson Booksellers for thirteen weeks in a row. Yesterday thanks to the news about my award nominations it was there again.

When I was shopping at McNally Robinson Booksellers last week I stopped to take a photo of Lost on the Prairie in a special display with some of the other Manitoba Book Award nominees. I feel honoured to be in their company.

I had such a good time on May 12th when I was invited to talk about my novel in a presentation to a group of seniors at my church Bethel Mennonite. I brought along some family memorabilia related to the novel and was delighted at all the folks who came over to chat with me about the various items and buy my book.

Esther Matz a successful novelist in her own right wrote this lovely article for our church newsletter about the event.

May 16th was British Columbia Book Day and my publisher Heritage House which is based in Victoria included Lost on the Prairie in one of the graphics they used to publicize the day.

Bob Armstrong was kind enough to give my award nomination a mention in his weekly column in the Winnipeg Free Press.

My wonderfully supportive publisher Heritage House created this graphic to announce the news about my award nominations and ………….

the Manitoba Book Awards created a great graphic as well to announce my nomination for the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award.

Photo by Jordan Ross The Carillon
Photo by Jordan Ross- The Carillon

Jordan Ross from The Carillon did a feature about poet Sarah Ens and myself. Both of us grew up in the regional area the newspaper serves and both have been nominated for Manitoba Book Awards this year.

I have been learning how helpful becoming an award nominee can be. Prior to my awards nominations being announced The Winnipeg Public Library had only three copies of my book. But………. now they have 22 copies of Lost on the Prairie and those copies have 18 holds on them.

We stopped in at the Common Word Bookstore on a bike ride last week and I got a photo of my book on the shelf there.

I am so grateful to my publisher Heritage House and in particular my marketing manager Monica Miller for all the work and effort they put into creating the submission documents for these awards, and to all the great organizations and groups who fund both the Manitoba Book Awards and the Manitoba Young Readers Choice Awards.

I am grateful to McNally Robinson Booksellers, Common Word Bookstore, and the gift shop at the Steinbach Heritage Village Museum for selling Lost on the Prairie and of course to all the people who have bought my book.

Other posts……..

It was Bittersweet

Lost on the Prairie Arrives in Hong Kong

History Hunting in the Cemetery


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It Was Bittersweet

In my most recent newspaper column, I reflected on how being nominated for two writing awards for my novel was bittersweet because both nominations were announced during the same week as Mothers Day.

You can read the article here or here.

Other posts……….

Two Lessons From My Mother

An Artist’s Date For My Mom

Missing My Mom

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What A Week You’ve Had!

Lovely image created by my fantastic publisher Heritage House to announce my nomination for the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award

“What a week you’ve had! I am so excited for you!” Colleen Nelson the award winning children’s author who is so amazingly supportive of emerging writers made that comment yesterday when it was announced that my book Lost on the Prairie had been shortlisted for the Manitoba Book Awards Eileen McTavish Sykes Prize for Best First Book!

Her words referenced the fact that on Wednesday of this week Lost on the Prairie was nominated for the Sundogs MYRCA Award and as if that wasn’t exciting enough……. yesterday it was nominated for a Manitoba Book Award. Two award nominations in one week? My heart be still.

Image from the Manitoba Book Awards Facebook page

I am shortlisted for the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award with a group of talented debut writers Primrose Madayag Knazan, Rowan McCandless , Errol Ranville, and Jillian Horton. I am honoured to be considered in a league with them.

I was curious about Eileen McTavish Sykes who the Manitoba Writers Guild honoured with their prize for debut authors. I couldn’t find a photo of her or the name of a book she had written but did learn that she published children’s books of verse, stories, and magazine articles and was active as a volunteer with many community organizations that addressed the needs of children. She died in 2002.

The Eileen McTavish Sykes Award was won last year by my friend and former teaching colleague Andrew Unger for his novel Once Removed. The winner of this year’s award will be announced on June 9th.

I am so appreciative of everyone who helped me and supported me and encouraged me during the more than five year journey to write and have Lost on the Prairie published, the wonderful organizations and businesses who sponsor the Manitoba Book Awards and the many, many people who have bought my book.

Other posts………

Would You Want Your Child To Be A Doctor?( my post about fellow nominee Jillian Horton’s book We Are All Perfectly Fine)

What I Liked About the Novel Once Removed(my post about the book that won The Eileen McTavish Sykes Award last year)

All my blog posts about my book Lost on the Prairie can be found here.


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An Amazing Birthday Gift For My Novel

My novel Lost on the Prairie is a year old this week. It was one year ago that my book hit the shelves at McNally Robinson Booksellers and began a run that would have it on the bestseller list for thirteen weeks. I was over the moon and wondered if anything better could happen to a debut author. Well it could!

Image from MYRCA

Because yesterday Lost on the Prairie became a MYRCA nominee. I just couldn’t believe it when I saw my book on the list of nominees on the MYRCA site along with so many great Canadian children’s writers I admire and respect and have looked up to as role models.

For my blog readers who don’t know what MYRCA is the initials stand for Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award. The award is sponsored by all kinds of wonderful businesses and organizations that care about Manitoba kids reading literature written by Canadian authors.

Each year in spring a selection committee composed of librarians, teachers, teacher librarians, a professor of children’s literature and a bookseller look at all the Canadian novels written for young people in a given year and choose the list of nominees. During the following year school children across Manitoba read the books and then in spring students vote for their favourites.

Image from MYRCA

The thing about my nomination that makes me so happy is that it will encourage lots of children to read Lost on the Prairie or have it read to them. The book will be part of special MYRCA displays in libraries and schools and bookstores so more children are sure to notice it. Some schools even have MYRCA book clubs.

I would love to go into schools and talk to students about my book. I think being nominated for a MYRCA will help create new opportunities for me to do that.

Since I found out about my nomination yesterday I have to keep pinching myself to believe my little novel is actually keeping company with the work of the other nominees who are such well- respected and successful authors. Colleen Nelson, David Robertson, Charis Cotter, Valerie Sherrard, Angela Ahn, Rob JustusLorna Schultz Nicholson, Heather Fawcett and Leslie Gentile.

I just received the most AMAZING birthday gift for my book and I couldn’t be happier.

Other posts………

You can read all my blog posts about Lost on the Prairie here.

Top Ten Pieces of Writing Advice From David Robertson

The Undercover Book List

Grandparents and Grandkids


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Lost on the Prairie News for March

I was delighted to be the guest of a book club discussing Lost on the Prairie on March 17th. The food and wine was amazing as you can see from this photo and that was just the first course. Everyone had read my book and had so many questions. The group was especially interested in the research I had done for the novel and the publishing process. One question they asked that stumped me was why I hadn’t given the chapters of my novel titles. I am not sure why I didn’t and that might be something to think about if I ever publish another book.

Have you heard of spine poetry? It involves using words on the spines of books to create a poem. Laurie Hnatiuk a librarian in Saskatoon who is one of two contributors to the book review blog Bit About Books and who co-administers the website Middle Grade Book Village created this spine poem after a March snowfall using my novel as the opening line of her poem. Thanks Laurie!

I like to keep track of where in the world copies of Lost on the Prairie have ended up. This month my cousin Julie said the copy she had sent to family in Portsmouth, England had arrived. I was in Portsmouth in 2005. I caught a ferry there to the Isle of Wight. If you’d have told me then that someday I would publish a book and people in Portsmouth would be reading it I wouldn’t have believed you.

Kathy Stinson is a giant in the world of Canadian children’s book publishing. I read her picture books to my own sons thirty years ago and recently gifted one of my grandchildren with her latest picture book The Girl Who Loved Giraffes about Canadian giraffologist Anne Innis Dagg. I reviewed the book on this blog and was so excited to receive a note from Kathy thanking me for the review and congratulating me on the success of Lost on the Prairie.

Lost on the Prairie is nearing its one year birthday so I guess it was inevitable I would soon find it for sale as a used book. That happened this month. They have only marked down the price by $1.13 though.

I was at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg yesterday and was happy to see that after ten months they are still carrying my book.

I always wonder what new things will happen regarding my novel each month. We’ll see what April brings.

You can read all the other blog posts about my book here.


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Lost on the Prairie In Australia and Saskatoon

My book is on the shelf at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Saskatoon

I have been in Saskatoon a number of times in the last while and on one visit I popped in at the McNally Robinson Booksellers store there to pick up a gift for someone. It was neat to see my novel on the shelves and especially cool to see it placed right above the novel Tainted Amber by Gabriele Goldstone, who is a fellow member of my Winnipeg writers’ group The Anitas.

On one of my visits to Saskatoon, I was invited to give a presentation about my book to a seniors’ group in the city. It was a delight to talk to the twenty or so folks who attended and sell them copies of Lost on the Prairie and sign them.

My friend and former colleague Sharon just received my book in Australia this month

Lost on the Prairie is in Queensland Australia, now. My friend Sharon Singh ordered a copy and when she received it last week did a lovely Facebook post about my novel. Sharon and my husband Dave and I were colleagues at an international school in Hong Kong. It was such a pleasure to get to know Sharon and her family during our time in Hong Kong. Thanks to our six years working in an international school my novel is making its way around the world to such interesting destinations.

I just can’t say enough good things about what my publisher Heritage House has done to promote my novel. Recently they included it in a series of media posts they did about Family Literacy Week.

Lost on the Prairie was also featured in the most recent newsletter of Friends of the Winnipeg Public library along with my friend Harriet Zaidman’s novel Second Chances. You can read their newsletter called NOTES here.

I am always receiving new comments from people who are continuing to buy my book and are reading it. I so appreciate everyone who takes the time to connect with me and tell me what they thought of Lost on the Prairie. Below is a sample comment from a former college classmate of mine Peggy Martens. You can read more of the comments I’ve received here.

This book was difficult to put down. It will hold the attention of younger and older readers as Peter moves from one adventure to another at a rapid pace. No need to read through chapters waiting for the next exciting escapade. It is so very well researched. I felt I was in the Minneapolis train station in 1907. I loved, loved, loved the inclusion of Mark Twain. But, what will stay with me the most, is how the book gives a central place to First Nations people. Peter sees them through eyes of wonder and curiosity as a child. He is not afraid or suspicious. The fact that they are heroes and friends in the story is wonderful. Peter sees what is similar to his own family and is respectful and appreciative of the differences. The fact that he cherishes the moccasins made by the grandmother for him speaks to this. This is how I wish adults, as well as children, could view those of different cultures to our own. This book is not only a great read but a must-read!- Peggy Martens (Altona, Manitoba)

I keep thinking that at some point there won’t be enough new things to write about my novel to do a monthly update. But it hasn’t happened yet.

You can read all of the Lost on the Prairie blog posts here.

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Lost on the Prairie Arrives in Hong Kong

Every month or so I like to do a little update on cool stuff that is happening with my novel Lost on the Prairie. January marks eight months since it was released to the public.

Huge thanks to Laurie Hnatiuk from the fabulous blog Bit About Books who put Lost on the Prairie on one of her Must Read Shelves for 2022.

In December Lost on the Prairie was part of the Heritage House Christmas card that featured all the books they published in 2021. Can you spot it?

My friend Kelly, an author herself, reads voraciously. She chose only eight of the 58 books she read in 2021 to keep on her bookshelf. I was thrilled Lost on the Prairie was one of them.

My mother Dorothy and her sisters Leila and Viola in 1934.

On January 12 I visited with a Winnipeg book club via Zoom. The women in this book club have been meeting together for nearly thirty years. They were very interested in the research I’d done for the book and asked such good questions.

One woman asked me why I had chosen to have three talkative and interesting daughters in the family my hero stays with for a brief time. I had never thought about that. As I chatted about it with the book club members I realized I had probably been influenced by the fact that there were three girls in my mothers’ family. They were very close to each other and such interesting women.

I love how I always gain new insights into my book when I talk with people who have read it.

Lunching on an Exchange District patio with my friend Billie in September

My friend Billie told me she gave Lost on the Prairie to her great-nieces and nephews for Christmas along with a story she had written about their family history. What a terrific idea!

I was so pleased Heritage House added a McNally Robinson Bookseller button to the page about my book on their website. They wanted to acknowledge the wonderful way the store has supported the sales of Lost on the Prairie.

My book pictured in the January 2022 newsletter from Heritage House

I want to acknowledge my publisher Heritage House for the absolutely AMAZING job they have been doing of promoting my novel.

My friend Darren’s Facebook post about Lost on the Prairie

My friend Darren in Hong Kong just received a copy of my book which I autographed for him. Darren is a former international school colleague of mine and is now a professor at the Education University in Hong Kong. He plans to read my novel over the Chinese New Year. I know my friend Meena in Hong Kong also has a copy of Lost on the Prairie but I would be curious to know if any of my other Hong Kong friends and former colleagues or students have one.

I noted recently all four copies of my book at the Winnipeg Library are out and there is a waiting list to read them. They have also added an electronic version of the book. So happy for this support from my local library system.

My publisher Heritage House featured Lost on the Prairie in their advertisement in the latest issue of Canadian Children’s Book News. Congratulations to Nadine Neema, another Heritage House author whose book Journey of A Traveling Girl launched just before mine and has been nominated for multiple awards.

February is I Love To Read Month and if there are any teachers out there who would like me to visit their class virtually to read from my novel or talk about reading and books I’d be thrilled to do that!

You can take a look at all the other posts I’ve done about Lost on the Prairie here.

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Lost on the Prairie Fetching Top Dollar

Such good news arrived last week from my publisher Heritage House. Each year The Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia chooses a selection of children’s books to feature in a print catalog that is sent out to some 2,500 schools in their province.

Guess what? They’ve included Lost on the Prairie in the catalog along with a lovely review and a note about areas of the curriculum where teachers could use it as a teaching resource. I’d love to start visiting schools either virtually or in-person in the new year and being in this catalog will be an important step in getting the word out about my book to teachers and students.

Thanks, Heritage House for submitting my book.

And a marvelous teacher Lori Emilson from Ashern Manitoba has used my book and the resource guide I’ve included in order to create a novel study for her students! It’s amazing. You can check it out on Lori’s Instagram page here.

I realized the other day I had never seen how my novel looks on Kindle so I downloaded it and really like how it displays on the screen. I wonder how many people have read it in that format?

As you can see I have been having lots of fun fooling around with festive Bit Moji images about my book and posting them on social media. I hope people will consider buying my novel as Christmas gifts. It is available at McNally Robinson Booksellers, the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum Gift Shop in Steinbach, and Common Word Bookstore on the Canadian Mennonite University campus.

You can also purchase my book on Amazon for $14.95 and I’ve just discovered there is an American outlet called Books Unplugged that advertises on Amazon and for some reason, they are selling Lost on the Prairie for $41.80. Not sure why anyone would buy it for that price.

I am grateful to my publisher Heritage House who created this cool little video as a sales promotion. My novel is the first one they feature.

My friend Harriet Zaidman sent me this photo of my book displayed at McNally Robinson Booksellers on the same table as her novel Second Chances which debuted recently. I am happy to be in such good company. You may remember that Harriet hosted the launch of my novel and did such a great job. I just reviewed Harriet’s novel on Good Reads. You can read what I had to say here.

I received an e-mail yesterday from a set of grandparents who just finished reading Lost on the Prairie. Each year when they get together with their grandchildren and children for Christmas they do a family read-aloud of a novel and this year they have chosen Lost on the Prairie. They are putting copies into everyone’s stockings. Thanks so much!

In case you missed it the Fall Newsletter for Lost on the Prairie is on my website now.

And………… this week I got my first royalty check for Lost on the Prairie. Although I didn’t write the book for financial gain it still made me feel like a ‘real’ author to get paid for my work.

I always vow I am not going to write about my novel for at least a month and then interesting stuff happens and I just can’t help myself.

I will try and curb my enthusiasm till 2022.


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Pantser or Plotter?

At the Christmas market in Steinbach. People who stopped at my display were interested when I talked about being a pantster. Photo thanks to my friend Debbie Jackson. I only took off my mask for the photo.

In my recent talks to various groups about my book I have explained how I wrote my novel Lost on the Prairie in pantster fashion. A pantser is someone who writes in a way ‘by the seat of their pants’. They just start writing and discover as they go what will happen to their characters.

A plotter has their entire book planned before they begin writing it.  They know what will happen to their character in each chapter or scene of the book and they plot that out with a story line graph or charts or a myriad of notecards with different scenes and events on them.  

I had the general idea for my novel before I started to write it. I knew a boy would be lost- have adventures- and then would be found. But that was it.

One day I simply sat down and started writing the first chapter of my book. My book is historical fiction so often when I was researching a certain place I’d get ideas for what the next event in my book would be. It was kind of exciting to discover what direction my story would take next. On the other hand it sometimes led me to places where I got stuck and I had to wait for inspiration, look for inspiration or ask others what to do.

There are advantages to being both a plotter and a pantster. And truth be told I think most writers are a little of both. A plantster perhaps?

Here I am working on writing a history book for the school where we taught in Hong Kong. When I am writing non-fiction I am definitely a plotter and a detailed planner as you can see from the charts and notes in my office.

Other posts……..

How Did You Become A Writer?

A Million Views

We Never Stop Talking

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