The Surrey Public Library has a young adult writing contest going on, and some really great writing workshops coming this summer!
You can find out about all the workshops at this link, and there’s a poster for mine below.
2017 had a pretty rough start for me, but it finished extremely strong. When I look back on the year I feel pretty happy about the accomplishments I have made. I’m almost done my lib tech course, I began learning the ukulele, adopted a dog, took some road trips, wrote a new book, started submitting my work to publishers, and I met a really amazing woman.
Here’s a list of my top 12 events. Some have links to longer blog posts or to other sites of interest.
That time I spent a night in a haunted hotel, and woke up the next day with the entire town dressed in steampunk costumes.
That time I met a dog, and he chose me to be his caretaker.
That time I took a ferry to a town in the San Juan Islands, and met a couple at a cafe who turned out to be a good friend’s uncle and aunt.
That time I went camping in a town that does Christmas all year long.
That time I went to a steampunk festival and wished that I was in a costume.
That time I discovered the beauty of just sitting by the ocean with a cup of coffee, a dog at my feet, and a notebook on my lap.
I wound up here by accident after taking a wrong turn. Then, after a second wrong turn, wound up finding the BEST homemade ice cream place I’ve ever discovered.
That time Denise Jaden and Eileen Cook asked me to be a part of their summer signing.
That time a part of my job was to create a digitization station for digitizing VHS, LPs, and cassettes. (It now does SO MUCH MORE!)
The quilt was 50 feet from my station, and it still took me weeks and weeks to notice I was on it. In fact, it was a patron who asked, “Are you the James McCann that’s on the literacy quilt?” And then when the quilt travelled to another library, I got an email from a coworker who realized I was the author of one of her favourite books as a teen.
My sister and mom came in July, and my nephew came in September. We took many road trips together and had an absolute blast.
If you follow my Instagram, you may have noticed I’ve been spending a lot of time with a special someone, Jessica. Here we are writing at the Penny, a really cool cafe in Mission. You can read Jessica’s work on Wattpad.
And, I started learning the ukulele (as in actual lessons). I (almost always) end my blog posts with a song that fits the moment–so, here’s me playing the ukulele on week four.
One of the perks of my new job as a library tech is that I get to do storytime twice a week with toddlers. The first one I did I was so nervous that I forgot the words to my first song! But I shrugged it off, and launched into the songs I hadn’t forgotten. Families came back, so I assumed they enjoyed themselves. Thanks in part to Jbrary (my favourite song I learned from them is featured at the end,) I have much improved.
Now that I’ve done quite a few, and have memorized a few dozen songs and rhymes, I’m experimenting with different ideas to keep storytime fresh. Last year, I bought a ukulele and am learning a few songs so, hopefully, soon I’ll be brave enough to play it for the kids. (Though I did play Jingle Bells on it for our Christmas event, and Ten in the Bed that same day as it’s only the “G” chord.)
My latest prop is my storytime parachute. I remember parachutes from when I was a kid, and I loved them. So I decided that it would be a cool thing to have in my storytime, and for two sessions I have added it to the last three rhymes and songs.
My parachute is 10×10 feet and fits perfectly in our storytime barn. (Yes, it’s a barn. And it’s AWESOME.) I found a few blogs where I could pull ideas and gain advice on how to use the chute, so I thought I’d share them here:
STORYTIME KATIE – Katie is a Chicago early literacy librarian and has many great ideas.
So, this is me with my chute just before storytime. To keep things fresh and predictable, I’ll use it on Thursdays at my 10:30 AM storytime.
Also, as promised, my favourite Jbrary song that I sing every storytime because it always gets laughs and now my regulars all know the song. I sing the first version, and then after tell the parents about the … dreaded second version. The parents get a laugh about it, but I have a suspicion that they don’t believe me. Although, last week at babytime when we did Raffi’s Spider on the Floor as a tickle song I changed the words at the end to wishing the spider, not our children, were dead. They laughed at that, and then more so when I told them I softened it up for them.
Working in a library, I sometimes get asked by students to help with research. My favourite is a four-year-old who comes in regularly, and asks to help with her research which is usually something that she has become curious about that week. Today, it was if bears ever come into Richmond (to the best of my searching, it appears not).
Her other questions were why the dinosaurs were so big, and why they went extinct. We chatted a bit about different theories, and then she ran off to read Nick Bland’s A Very Cranky Bear that I had recommended to her.
While she was reading, her mom told me that friends of hers were telling her that teachers would one day dislike all the questions that her daughter would no doubt ask them. “Teacher’s don’t like to be asked things they have to admit they don’t know,” the mom said.
Having worked as a creative writing teacher, I can recall being asked many strange things (it was easier to ask me then it was to look things up, my students would say). I used those opportunities to teach my students about research, and how to find the answers they wanted without resorting to using me like Google.
In response to the mom, I told her that any teacher worth their salt will see her daughter’s curiosity and be thrilled at the potential. Though what kind of teacher she has early on will determine if she stays inquisitive – creativity and curiosity can both be killed easily with ridicule and a dismissive attitude. And yes, those teachers are out there, too.