Category Archives: Lost on the Prairie

What An Inspiration!

What an inspiration!  She signed her first publishing contract when she was 66 years old.  Just like me! Now at age 85, Beryl Young’s seventh book will soon be out in bookstores. It’s a poetry picture book for children about whales.  In June when I began talking with Heritage House about the contract for my novel Lost on the Prairie, a writing friend suggested I call Beryl Young whose book Miles to Go had been published by Heritage House in 2018.  It was actually reading Beryl’s book Miles to Go that gave me the idea my novel might be a good fit for Heritage House. Miles to Go is a middle-grade novel about two girls growing up in 1948 in a small Saskatchewan town. They are good friends, but their life circumstances couldn’t be more different.  

Beryl who lives in the Vancouver area could not have been kinder or more helpful as she told me about her own career as an author and offered words of wisdom regarding contracts. She filled me in on her experiences working with various publishers.   I obviously wasn’t the first budding children’s author to ask her for advice. She seemed to take delight in sharing her expertise with others.  

Beryl has published all kinds of different books for children. 

Would Someone Please Answer the Parrot? is the catchy title of Beryl’s first picture book published by Peanut Butter Press. It is about a family pet who is at the heart of all kinds of rollicking adventures. 

Beryl has written two biographies. Charlie: A Home Child’s Life in Canada chronicles the life of her father Charlie who came to Canada as an orphan in the early 1900s.The other is A Boy From Acadie and tells the life story of Romeo LeBlanc, Canada’s 25th Governor-General. In Beryl’s novel Follow the Elephant a thirteen old boy from Canada gets lost in Delhi India and in Wishing Star Summer an eleven- year old girl named Tanya visits Vancouver after her family has been impacted by the Chernobyl radiation disaster in Ukraine.  

What a diverse canon of books Beryl has to her name!

I gleaned so much expertise and insight about writing and publishing during my phone conversation with Beryl and from looking at her website. Here are some key things I learned that I want to keep in mind as I work towards the launch of my own book. 

  • Beryl belongs to six different writers’ groups and associations. She takes her commitment to the profession seriously. 
  • She has become something of an expert at finding niche publishers just perfect for her books. 
  • She is an advocate for herself. She makes sure her opinions and ideas are heard and respected during the publishing process. She isn’t afraid to nudge her publishers when she thinks it’s time to move forward on things. 
  • She very actively promotes her books and speaks to all kinds of different groups about them. 
  • She has an attractive, up to date author website.
  • She networks with other authors. 

In fact, Beryl connected me to Harriet Zaidman, a writing friend of hers in Winnipeg. Harriet and I had a delightful lunch together and I had a chance to pick her brain for ideas about writing and book publication. 

Before our phone conversation ended Beryl had invited me to drop in at her British Columbia home.  I just may take her up on that invitation once it is possible to travel again. 

Beryl Young is such an inspiration.  Could I publish a half dozen more books in the next twenty years?  Who knows? 

Other posts about my upcoming novel Lost on the Prairie………..

Thank You Mystery Editor

A Published Novel! Can You Believe It? 

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Thank You Mystery Editor

“You’ve done an excellent job of capturing times past without hindering the flow of the story. Your writing style is full of marvelous descriptions and evocative sensory details. Your opening sentence and paragraph hook your readers and your story has delightful charm to it. Your novel has great potential for finding a publisher. Keep sending it out.”

It was those words of encouragement that motivated me to submit my middle-grade novel manuscript to Heritage House who will publish Lost on the Prairie this coming spring.

In May of 2019, I attended a conference for children’s writers in Saskatoon. It was sponsored and organized by the Saskatchewan branch of CANSCAIP (the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers) The sessions I attended were informative and inspiring.

Author David Robertson spoke to us several times at the conference. I organized his excellent advice into a Top Ten list.
 Groundwood Books editor Shelley Tanaka told us that luck and timing were the reason lots of books get published but she gave us a long list of other strategies to improve our chances. 
Moderator Alice Kuipers led an entertaining and informative panel discussion with authors David Robertson, Miriam Körner, and Arthur Slade about  Vision and Voice in their writing. 

The conference was such a good experience for me that when I received an e-mail saying a fundraiser had been organized to help finance the next Saskatchewan CANSCAIP session in 2021, I was eager to participate. Writers were invited to submit excerpts from a current manuscript and in return for a donation would receive feedback from a professional editor on their work.

The quote that begins this blog is from the feedback I received for the first section of my novel Lost on the Prairie. I don’t know who the mystery editor was that read my work but I owe them a huge debt of thanks. With their inspiring words ringing in my head and heart I put aside the doubts that had taken hold when my manuscript was rejected by other publishers and got a submission prepared for Heritage House.

It didn’t take long for Heritage House to get back to me with a contract offer. I was ecstatic as you can imagine.

So I owe a big debt of gratitude to CANSCAIP Saskatchewan and to the mystery editor who read my work and was so encouraging. I don’t know if they need to remain a mystery but if not I would love to send them a copy of my novel when it is published

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A Published Novel! Can You Believe It?

Signing the contract for my book in June

My novel tentatively titled  Lost on the Prairie will be published in the spring of 2021. I signed a contract with Heritage House Publishing in June.  I am so incredibly excited to write that!  The manuscript has been a five-year project! 

Last week Heritage House began working with me on the marketing plan for the book and gave me permission to share the news about my upcoming book on social media.  

Here I am with Naomi one of the fascinating people I interviewed while I was researching my book.

In future blog posts, I want to tell you interesting stories about the process of doing the research for the book, and writing the story. I’ll introduce you to some of the terrific people who helped me along the way and fill you in on what is going on behind the scenes as I work together with Heritage House towards the book’s debut and launch. 

I’m going to send out a monthly newsletter where I will provide updates on the progress towards publication and share links to any stories I have written about the book. If you would like to receive that newsletter you can let me know with a message via any of my social media or at the e-mail address in the About section of my blog.

My story was inspired by something that happened to my grandfather Peter Schmidt.  That’s me in the photo with him.  My grandfather died as a result of a car accident when I was just seven years old so I didn’t get to know him very well.  Writing this story has made me feel closer to him. 

I got the idea for my novel from a line in a memoir written by grandfather’s sister Alma about the immigration journey her family made from Kansas to Saskatchewan by train in 1907.  The line said,……….. When the train arrived in Humboldt Pete’s car wasn’t there. Mom and Dad were sure worried!

I hope that whets your appetite to learn more about my novel.  I am excited that I will be able to share it with you and hopefully many other people of all ages.  I am also excited about sharing stories related to the book in the upcoming weeks and months. 

A published novel!  Can you believe it? 

Other posts……….

Parents Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Writers

Timing and Luck

Relentless Persistence

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