Category Archives: Sixties Girl

Four Schools- Four Great Experiences- Thanks MYRCA

Since returning from Africa at the beginning of March I’ve had the privilege of visiting four different schools to connect with kids and teachers about my novel Lost on the Prairie. It’s been so much fun!

All these schools were participating in the Manitoba Young Readers Choice MYRCA program. My book is a nominee and I’m so appreciative of the way that has resulted in invitations to visit schools where teachers have organized MYRCA clubs and meet weekly with kids to talk about the books they are reading.

The second week of March I went to Clearspring Middle School in Steinbach my home town. It was my first visit to this beautiful facility that opened in 2012. I was warmly greeted in the office by Vice Principal Candace Campbell who took me to the large and brightly lit library where I was welcomed by the librarian Arlene Baldwin who helps facilitate the school’s MYRCA club of some thirty students.

Teacher Alex Nikkel is the driving force behind the club. After I had spoken to the larger group I had a chance to chat with some individual students and sign copies of the book.

Watching Alex hurry into the library on her lunch hour to greet me and the students, reminded me of my own busy years of teaching and how the public often fails to realize all the extra things teachers do to help kids explore their interests and give them personal attention.

I was so appreciative of my husband Dave who acted as my chauffeur for our trip out to Holland Elementary School in Holland Manitoba about a 90-minute drive south and west of Winnipeg.

Teacher Deanne Kuehn organized my visit. She had a special MYRCA bulletin board up in her classroom. I first spoke to all the grades 5-8 students. The younger students were about to begin Lost on the Prairie as a class read aloud.

The older students had already completed Lost on the Prairie as a class read-aloud and novel study so I spent some time with them separately since they had made a list of great questions they wanted to ask me about the book.

Since two of the characters in the book are inspired by my grandparents the kids really enjoyed looking at some of their personal effects I had brought along.

Next up was Ecole St. Avila in the Fort Richmond area of Winnipeg. Here my visit had been arranged by the librarian Paula Jasper Hall through the Thin Air Kids Festival which featured all the MYRCA nominees this year.

What a great bunch of kids in this thriving MYRCA club that meets over their lunch hour in the library. Their questions were fantastic. We talked right till the buzzer rang for class to start.

Paula had made them beautiful bookmarks that featured all the MYRCA nominees and I was busy autographing them. I felt like a celebrity!

My last presentation was on Thursday at École Munroe Middle School here in Winnipeg. Teacher Librarian Sylvia Scott organized my lunch hour visit with her grade six MYRCA club.

One of the students gave a lovely little speech and presented me with a gift to thank me for coming.

The students were so attentive and interested and Sylvia is such an enthusiastic supporter of the MYRCA program! How lucky writers are to have an initiative like MYRCA begun by the Manitoba School Library Association and supported by volunteer teachers and librarians from across the province. They work each year to actively promote Canadian books with young readers.

I’ve loved all my visits to schools in the last three weeks. Connecting with young people who have read a book you’ve written is so rewarding and is definitely an inspiration to keep on writing! Thanks, MYRCA!

Other posts………..

Checking Out the Competition

Sixties Girl Has Arrived

Colleen is Coming

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Filed under Education, Lost on the Prairie, Sixties Girl

Sixties Girl Has Arrived!

Big excitement yesterday as my author copies of Sixties Girl were delivered to our door.

I sent the final copy of my manuscript to Heritage House in November and four months later I am holding my book in my hand.

This book is so different from Lost on the Prairie and it is designed in a very different way as well so I am feeling a sense of trepidation about having it out there in the world.

The success of Lost on the Prairie was so surprising. Will people like this book too?

I gave a talk last night to a group of sixty women about Lost on the Prairie and I realized how much the way I tell the story of the book’s journey has changed over the last two years.

I now have an album of photos of so many different people holding my book in all kinds of places around the world and I have a lovely collection of illustrations children have done for the story. When I do a presentation I can include quotes and responses from people who have read the book. Away from the initial flurry of writing it, I’ve been able to reflect on where many of the ideas in the book came from and share those stories with my audiences.

I wonder how the story of Sixties Girl will change as it makes its way into the world. What kind of journey will it have?

I think the book should be available in bookstores in about two weeks. As soon as I hear it’s on sale, I will let you know.

Other posts…………

An Amazing Birthday Gift For My Novel

Sixties Girl- A New Book in Spring

Colleen is Coming


Filed under Sixties Girl

Colleen is Coming!

I am so excited to announce that well-known Canadian author Colleen Nelson will be interviewing me at the launch of my new book Sixties Girl on April 28th at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Colleen is the author of sixteen books for children and her seventeenth The Umbrella House is coming out in June of 2023. The awards and honours her books have received would make a list so long it might stretch right across the city of Winnipeg where Colleen lives with her family and works as a junior high teacher.

I love her Harvey series about a West Highland Terrier. Harvey, his owner Maggie, and Maggie’s friend Austin are regular volunteers at a home for seniors in Winnipeg where they learn about historical events from the residents they befriend.

Harvey Comes Home the first book in the series won the Willow Award, the McNally Robinson Book of the Year for Young People Award and was a Bank Street Books for kids. Its sequel Harvey Holds His Own was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award and Harvey Takes the Lead was a Canadian Book Centre Best Books For Kids selection.

I am a huge fan of Colleen’s novel Sadia which won the Ruth and Sylvia Schwarz Award and thoroughly enjoyed her wonderful novel The Undercover Book List which has been nominated for readers’ choice awards across Canada.

Colleen’s latest book was non-fiction and was co-written with Kathie MacIsaac. It is called If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It, and profiles interesting people who found their dream jobs.

The thing about Colleen I most appreciate as a writer, however, isn’t all the awards she has won but how encouraging and supportive she is to new children’s writers like me.

Colleen was quick to offer congratulations and a positive review when Lost on the Prairie first came out and when I asked her for some advice while writing Sixties Girl she readily provided it and offered to help me in any way she could.

I know I’m not the only emerging writer who has been the recipient of Colleen’s warm support and helpful encouragement. She is a wonderful role model.

I’m so excited she will be interviewing me at the launch of Sixties Girl.

Consider this your personal invitation to join us on April 28th at 7pm at the Grant Park location of McNally Robinson Booksellers for the hybrid launch of Sixties Girl.

Other posts…………..

An Interesting Plot Line in Harvey Takes the Lead


The Undercover Book List


Filed under Sixties Girl

Bursting With Book News

So many things have been happening with both my first book Lost on the Prairie and my upcoming novel Sixties Girl that I just had to take a wee break from writing about our Africa adventures to catch up with all the news.

Speaking of Africa I left a copy of my book at Dashir Lodge and Safaris in Tanzania, our home base for our two weeks in that country. As far as I know, my novel has now travelled to at least six different countries, Australia, India, China, England, Africa and the United States.

I was thrilled when Lost on the Prairie was chosen to be part of the 2023 Thin Air Kids Writing Festival. I was able to post a promotion of my book and a reading from it on the Thin Air Website and Thin Air is booking classroom visits for me to talk about the book. Thanks so much, Thin Air!

And how cool is it to be in the company of the other Thin Air participants great Canadian children’s writers like Colleen Nelson, David Robertson and Angela Ahn?

You don’t publish a book without the support of a huge community of people. I am totally honoured and blown away that four incredibly talented writers took the time to read an advanced copy of my novel Sixties Girl and write endorsements for it on the Heritage House website.

Huge thanks to Gabriele Goldstone whose latest book Crowstone has been receiving all kinds of accolades and recommendations. Here is what she had to say about Sixties Girl.

“In this thoughtful middle-grade novel, the past deftly intersects with the present. His grandmother’s old suitcase, stuffed with random objects, becomes eleven-year-old Will’s portal to both family and world history, and to a better understanding of himself. An empowering book about sharing stories, Sixties Girl is sure to stimulate conversation between generations.” 

Thanks to Jodi Carmichael whose latest novel The Unique Lou Fox has her doing radio interviews, visiting library conferences and receiving lots of well-deserved attention. I love Jodi’s enthusiasm for my new novel.

“MaryLou Driedger has deftly woven together a historical fiction story of a girl growing up in the fast-changing 1960s and a contemporary story of a boy dealing with bullying, making new friends, and learning how to trust. Both storylines are compelling in their own right, and together they form this beautifully written novel that lets us sink into each character’s coming-of-age journey. Sixties Girl is a captivating page-turner that I did not want to end! Fans of Driedger’s first book, Lost on the Prairie, will not be disappointed!” 

Thanks to Harriet Zaidman whose novel Second Chances recently won the 2022 Geoffry Bilson Award for historical fiction. The book has been receiving great reviews and was nominated for a Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award. Here is what Harriet had to say about my novel.

“Stories from the Swinging Sixties help friends overcome their divisions and a family bridge the generation gap in this uplifting contemporary tale. Young readers will identify with Will’s insecurities, and cheer when he realizes goodness surrounds him. When in doubt, Grandma’s story box has the answer.” 

And finally a big thank you to Larry Verstraete who has had sixteen children’s books published in a long and illustrious career that has garnered him many writing awards. Here are his comments on Sixties Girl.

“Listening to stories told by his grandmother about growing up in the 1960s compels young Will to ask hard questions about his own relationships with friends and family. Heartfelt, warm, rich in details, meticulously researched, and complete with intriguing historical notes, MaryLou Driedger’s Sixties Girl adeptly brings the era to life.” 

Way back in 2011 when I first decided I would like to try writing for children I took a correspondence course from the Institute of Children’s Writing. My instructor Peggi Shea was so encouraging and helpful as I began to learn the hundreds of things I would need to know to successfully write and sell a novel for kids. This month the Institute is featuring me as one of their published grads in the spotlight.

I will have a busy time when I return home. In March I am really looking forward to visiting Munroe School, Ecole St. Avila, Holland Elementary School in Holland Manitoba and Clearspring Middle School in Steinbach, Manitoba.

And in case you missed it- my January newsletter can be read here.

Sixties Girl is set to go on sale on April 11 and I should have news about the book launch for Sixties Girl soon! You can already pre-order your copy of Sixties Girl at my favourite bookstore McNally Robinsons Booksellers.


Filed under Lost on the Prairie, Sixties Girl

Sixties Girl Has A Cover!

I just received the final version of the cover for my second novel Sixties Girl. It’s a book about a girl named Laura growing up in Manitoba during the 1960s.

We learn about Laura’s childhood and teen years through the stories she tells her grandson Will, who comes to visit her Winnipeg apartment once a week after school. The scenes with Will take place in 2023.

Will is experiencing some challenges with his two best friends Emmaline and Aneesh and his grandmother’s stories make him braver and wiser as he tries to navigate them.

The suitcase Laura is carrying on the cover plays an important role in the story. She keeps souvenirs of her sixties childhood in it and when her grandson Will discovers the suitcase he starts asking his grandmother about the objects inside.

Photo from Setareh Ashrafologhalai’s LinkedIn page

I want to thank the talented Setareh Ashrafologhalai the designer who created the cover for Sixties Girl. I hope to do an interview with Setareh next month so my readers can learn more about her and I can find out what some of her thinking was behind the cover she created. I did this with Jacqui Thomas who designed the cover for my novel Lost on the Prairie and found it fascinating.

The first impression of a book comes from its front cover and Setareh’s work really reflects my story.

You can see the synopsis of the story on the website of Heritage House my publisher.

I am just going through the final copy edits of the book now, which I want to complete before I leave for Tanzania.

Seeing the cover makes me excited about sharing this new novel with all of you.

Other posts…………….

Sixties Girl- A New Book in Spring

2022- A Banner Year for Lost on the Prairie


Filed under Sixties Girl

Sixties Girl-A New Book in Spring

I am happy to officially announce that I have signed a contract with Heritage House to publish my novel Sixties Girl. It will be out in the spring of 2023.

Meeting Lara Kordic in Victoria last October

A big thank you to Lara Kordic the editorial director at Heritage House who had so much confidence in me she bought Sixties Girl even before it was really finished.

I signed the contract back in mid-August already just before I left on an extended holiday and cycling trip in southern Ontario.

Winnipeg editor Deborah Froese

On my return, I worked very hard with the help of editor extraordinaire Deborah Froese to do all the major developmental edits the book still required.

Nandini Thaker editorial coordinator for Heritage House

The copy-editing stage with Nandini Thaker at Heritage House will begin this week. I worked with Nandini on my first book Lost on the Prairie and look forward to doing that again. She was so helpful and supportive.

Monica Miller – Marketing and Publicity Coordinator

I am meeting with Heritage’s stellar marketing and publicity coordinator Monica Miller tomorrow to start planning for publicity around the release of the book. A date hasn’t been chosen yet. Monica is the reason my first book enjoyed the sales success it did and so I am very happy she will be navigating the release of my second novel.

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

People I’ve shared my news with have asked if this book is a sequel to Lost on the Prairie and it is in a way. Unlike Lost on the Prairie which took place in 1907 this story takes place in 2023. The main characters are Peter’s granddaughter Laura and her grandson Will. Laura frequently references her grandfather Peter in the book. Peter was the main character in Lost on the Prairie.

Will, Laura’s grandson, is almost twelve and once a week when he spends time with his Grandma after school she tells him stories about her childhood and teen years in the sixties. Although it seems like an ancient time to Will, he comes to realize that learning about how his grandmother dealt with challenges in her life in the sixties, may give him the courage to deal with the challenges he is facing.

Of course, I was a 60s girl so I bring a wealth of personal experience to the writing of this novel.

I’ll be putting out a new edition of my newsletter soon with more details about the book and doing future blog posts about Sixties Girl. The cover isn’t quite ready for release yet but I’ve seen some of the initial drafts and I’m excited about it.

So stay tuned!

Other posts………

The 60s- Ten Things You May Not Know

A Published Novel! Can You Believe It?

A 1960s Perspective on Our Current World Crisis


Filed under Sixties Girl