New Book Deal with KCP Loft

20161017_C2123_PHOTO_EN_797249A writer’s life is filled with endless cups of cold coffee, hunched shoulders and chronic sciatica from all the sitting, and of course there’s the ample amounts of self-doubt and criticism, but occasionally there are times when it’s all worth it. (Just reread that and excuse my facetiousness, it’s always worth it 😉 ).

I am just a wee bit excited to announce my latest book deal with the award-winning Kids Can Press, a parent company of Corus Entertainment and an incredible publisher (some of my mommy friends may be familiar with their Franklin the Turtle series).

Kids Can Press recently started a new Young Adult imprint called KCP Loft, to be “expertly curated” by respected editor Kate Egan  (also maybe familiar: Kate was the editor of a little series called The Hunger Games, and is a rad author in her own right).

I am over the moon about working with such a fabulous editor and press and can’t wait for all of you to read Summer Constellations, due out in Spring 2018. I’m having a swell time working on the edits (currently at the point where I want to throw the computer out the window – fellow writers will be familiar with this stage of the process), and am having fun peppering the names of friends and family through the book ;).

Thank-you to all for your support and a special shout-out to my agent Ali McDonald of The Rights Factory for all her hard work and bearing with me in all of my most neurotic-writerly moments.

With much love and gratitude,

Alisha

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Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill”. You have to listen.

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Video dropped this morning (Jan 23/17)

So I’m sitting here working on my novel, Spotify playing in the background, the Discover Weekly playlist on mid-volume. I’m enjoying the music but not thinking too much about it, as I’m currently waist-deep in the Nile in the middle of Ancient Egypt. And there’s a crocodile just off to the left, lurking amongst the papyrus reeds.

When suddenly, this song comes on and damn if it doesn’t pull me right out of my book. It’s about watching the sunset over the castle on the hill. I mean, who wouldn’t want to do that?” (For us small-town gals who didn’t have a convenient castle nearby, that’s equivalent to watching the sunset on the water towers. Or silo. Or whatever).

It’s about a boy going back to his hometown where he grew up and all that goes with it. I think to myself, “This is the male equivalent to Taylor Swift.” Someone whose power for telling a story in three minutes has launched her into current global domination.

Unable to resist looking at my phone, I see that it’s Ed Sheeran. And then, of course, the whole castle thing makes sense, him being British and all. And the T-Swift connection, of course.

Anyways, it inspired me to write this post about music and writing. The first one has the power to transform the other. I only recently started listening to music when I write, having previously found it too distracting. But I’m loving this new addition to my routine. The feelings Sheeran’s song evokes brings me right back to that small town where I grew up. And I love it and every single person from there, as fiercely as he does in his song. When it comes to the edits on my new Young Adult romance, Summer Constellations, also partially inspired by where/how I grew up, I will be sure to have this song on repeat.

Coincidentally, Ed’s other song, which debuted at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 last week, “Shape of You”, has just come on as I finish writing this post…also a good one if you need some fresh tunes. Hey, I write books for teens (and older people who secretly love them), it’s really all just research 😉

What songs make you think about being a kid? Leave a comment below.

Alisha

PS. Always knew Ed was one to watch – featured him in a post back in 2014 when Kissing Frogs came out called 5 Kissable Frogs 😉

 

 

 

New Year, New Start

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Book research in ROM’s private stacks!

A blank page. That is what the new year is to me. As someone who works hard to live in the moment, I love what a fresh year means. A chance to move on. To forget about past mistakes and disappointments. After all, dwelling on these things wastes our energy. It is best if we merely learn from them and then let them go.

2016 was the year I learned to have more patience. The year I learned to cut myself some slack. The year I understood that worrying about things doesn’t help, and so I try to do less of that (though it is still a struggle some days).

IMG_0222I am so excited for 2017 and the possibilities it represents. And whatever your hopes and dreams, I’m excited for you to achieve them too. Whatever your goals and ambitions, as long as they are framed by love and hope, the world is a better, brighter place. Let’s shine together.

xoxo, Alisha

PS. I have a few big announcements in store, so stay tuned!

Happy Young Readers Day!

imageIn honour of Young Readers Day, I’m giving away 2 signed copies of Kissing Frogs! All you have to do to enter is follow me on Instagram @alisha7e and tag a friend. The contest closes Nov. 13th.

Last week I had a great time speaking with the grade six classes at McMurrich JPS here in Toronto.

The students weimagere incredible! Not only was I impressed by their passion for books and the environment but also their insightful questions and boundless enthusiasm.

imageReading is such an important part of a child’s life, indeed it’s where my love of writing was born!

If you’re a teacher in Toronto and enjoy having authors in to visit your students, please feel free to contact me!

xo Alisha

 

 

 

Hot Yoga, Hot Summer Nights, Hot Book Signings!

IMG_5269Whew – summer has been busy!

On top of completing my hot yoga teacher training, I’ve been focusing on new projects which I’ve had the privilege to receive grants for, (thanks Owl Kids and Ontario Arts Council!), as well as travelling and spending loads of scrumptious time with the family.

There were some fun book signings at Chapters Indigo in Waterloo and
Eaton’s Centre here in Toronto, where I met some amazing fans (shout-out to DJ Sam!).

SubstandardFullSizeRenderFullSizeRenderI’ve also started getting back to my other love: substantive editing, and am now offering in-depth manuscript assessments for fiction and non-fiction writers looking to find an agent and get published, either through the traditional route, or in the rapidly emerging world of self-publishing.

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My new WIP received a grant based on a blind jury of peer assessors. (Not that I didn’t believe my Mom when she said she liked my writing 😉 ).

My new book, Summer Constellations, is currently going out on submission (cross your fingers it finds a great home!) and there are a thousand other ideas brewing around up there that I’m anxious to get out and into the world.

Of course, all is not always sunshine and rainbows. My incredible Canadian indie press has closed up shop, which is sad for KisIMG_5255sing Frogs and for YA fans everywhere. Hopefully, it too will find a new home.

Looking forward to soaking up these last few weeks of summer! Drop me a line and let me know how yours has been!

xoxo,

Alisha

 

Spring Events

unnamed-1Last Friday I spoke to my toughest audience yet: my daughter’s JK/SK class at Jackman Public School! We read the original Frog Prince fairy-tale by the Brothers Grimm and students asked some great questions about frogs and conservation. My favourite comment was when one of the boys emphatically raised his hand and shouted, “There’s a ‘P’ in my name.” Well said, Jasper, well said.

ChT8qWbXEAELMSqOn Saturday, April 30th (in addition to Save the Frogs Day), it was Authors for Indies.

This an amazing event, where local authors support independent bookstores. The ladies at Ella Minnow were wonderful and I met some really great fellow authors – such a fun day.

On May 28th I’ll be with my best gal Angela Misri of the fabulous Portia Adams series, at Waterloo Chapters if you want to come get some books signed or just hang out.

Happy Spring!

Author Chat with Meaghan McIsaac of MOVERS

Today we have the lovely Meaghan McIsaac, author of the supercool time travel book MOVERS, here to talk about a few of her favourite things (which do not include girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes).

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1) Can you give us a brief description of what your book is about?

Movers is about a not too distant future where some people are born with the illegal ability to “Move” people from the future to the present. The future isn’t all that great, so there are plenty of people who want to come to the present, and it’s only Movers who can get them there. When a particularly violent Move opens up over Pat’s school, it’s up to him to save the class reject everyone thinks is responsible. Not just from BMAC (the Bureau of Movement Activity Control) but from the dangerous man who’s just arrived from the future who is bent on catching them both.

2) It’s such a cool concept – how did you get the idea?

Some of my favourite movies are time travel stories. Terminator, Looper, Back to the Future. I wanted to try to do my own. But I wanted my characters to travel through time in a different way. As much as I love time machines – and I do – I wanted to see if there was another way for my characters to move through time. That’s how the idea of being born with the ability to Move people came about. Once the world of the story had people born with this power, the rules and problems and politics that would surround that kind of gift started to take shape, which really ended up influencing the direction of the plot.

3) Fans of who/what will like this book?

imagesThat’s tough for me to say. I guess if you’re a time travel fan, then give Movers a go. Action/adventure fans will find plenty of action here too. If you enjoyed the Terminators, Looper, Back to the Future, then hopefully you’ll find some room in your heart for Movers too!

4) What are some of your favourite authors/books and why?

I have so many! And the list is changing all the time. If you ask me again tomorrow, it could be different, but hey, here’s today’s answers!
The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness. The writing is breakneck speed and the story is so different from anything I’ve read. The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix. Epic fantasy about necromancers so that’s awesome. And boy does it make me want to collect antique keys.
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Classic. Is there a more alive, leaping-off-the-page character than Anne Shirley? I collect copies wherever I find them. That’s how much I love it.

Stephen King, I’ll read pretty much anything he writes. But especially Carrie. I read that in one sitting. Couldn’t put it down! The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Blood-thirsty water horses. Do I need to explain why this is awesome? Marie Lu’s Legend series. Dystopian sci/fi with two main characters from completely different worlds, told in chapters alternating between their points of view. I loved being able to be inside both these characters’ heads and experience the story from two completely different points of view.

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UK Cover

5) Any interesting writing quirks?

I like to have music on, or nothing at all. I especially like to put on movie soundtracks, like the score to star wars or something. Nerd, I know. But you’d be surprised how much it helps!

Diet Pepsi is pretty crucial to the writing operation.

A window. I’ve only recently learned this about myself. I really like to write near a window. Why? I dunno. Feels less lonely that way, I guess.

6) Last question: If you could cast your book who are some of the actors you would choose to play your characters?

OH NO! How do I answer this? My characters are always made up people inside my head so it’s hard to put someone else’s face on the ones I made up. For Pat, Maggie and Gabby, they just have to be unknown actors. New faces! That’s how I feel about that. As for everyone else…. Danny Glover would make an awesome Leonard — that voice! Rosamund Pike for Agent Hartman, she can be scary as Gone Girl has shown us. And Roth, maybe someone like Dominic Purcell?

A special thank-you to Meaghan for hanging out with us today! If you’d like to learn more about her or her books, check out her website or on social media.

It Should Have Been a #GoodDay Blog Tour

Natalie's ideal cast. Jennifer Lawrence as Emily.

Natalie’s ideal cast. Jennifer Lawrence as Emily.

So after a brief blogging hiatus I’m stop excited to be back and with such an amazing book! Natalie Corbett Sampson’s It Should Have been a #Goodday is a compelling read that will drop you right back in high school, whether you want to be there or not. Today we’re doing a Q&A with Natalie, who tells us a bit more about the book and her writing process.

1) Can you give us a brief description of what your book is about?

It Should Have Been a #GoodDay is simply about one day at high school told through four narrators who each have a very different perspective. Their days are separate but intertwine at moments, and then come together at the end. It’s about how the truth changes with perspective, how everyone has a different story and their own challenges and demons.

2) What inspired you to write the book?

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Colton Haynes as Brogan

I started with one of the characters and then the idea grew from there. I remember high school as being very stressful, trying to figure out where I fit in, and what everyone else’s game was. I had a good experience for the most part, but I think even teens with great experiences face stress and unknowns and trying to figure out what’s really going on.

3) What was the most challenging thing about writing this book?

Making sure that each character was it’s own voice, that they were distinct enough without slipping into caricatures. That was really tricky and required a lot of help from my editors. As a writer I put a lot of myself into the characters, even if they’re nothing like me, but that means when I’m writing different ones sometimes the strain of me running through them all makes them too similar. That’s a tough thing to see as the writer but good editors help point that out.

4) What was the easiest or most interesting of part of the process for you?

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Michael Cera as Henry

Henry was my favourite to write. I’ve worked a lot with people with autism and I am always fascinated by what makes them tick. Part of my job is trying to figure out what they are trying to communicate and how to help them and their families be more successful at it, that takes a bit of getting in their heads – which always makes me wonder. Obviously I can’t say Henry is real or accurate, but it was a very interesting process to try to create him from the inside out.

5) Your book has several characters telling the story from their point of view – did you have a favourite “voice” in which to write?

Henry for sure. Brogan was interesting, actually, because originally I only had Emily, Thomas and Henry. Brogan was going to be the ‘bad guy’ in the shadows or wings, someone they all interacted with but who wasn’t in the story himself. But I just couldn’t get the story out without his perspective too – I never believed that whole ‘characters talk to us’ thing until I was fighting with him. So I decided I’d write his part just to get it straight in my head, not to include it… and in the end of course, he needed to be there too. I had to be careful that he wasn’t just a ‘bad guy’ – again with more help from the editors.

6) What made you decide to self-pub and how did you find the process?

It has been a great and fascinating process – an excellent way to see how the publishing world really works. Who knew you had to CHOOSE the colour of the book pages??? I mean really! I have published two the traditional way with a small publisher. I thought it would be interesting to give self-pub’ing a try. There’s a lot more freedom and control, which comes with expense of course – a higher risk, but I wanted to see what the payoff would be in terms of money, accomplishment, learning the trade and process, etc. It’s been very rewarding and I’m definitely game to do it again. I used to see it as a ‘last resort’ after x-number of rejection letters, but not any more. It’s a viable and rewarding choice.

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Robert Sheehan as Thomas

7) What would you say to writers who are trying to decide whether self-publishing is for them?

Hm, good question. It’s overwhelming to take all at once, I’d say if you’re going to go that route make sure you set up smaller tasks and deadlines. And talk to people who have done it or work in the business, they’re the best source of information. As for deciding, it’s such an individual choice when it comes to resources, time, reasons, even the type of book… I guess my biggest thought would be not to rule it out. Self pub’ing has come a long way.

8) What are some of your favourite authors/books and why?

Gah I hate this question! I can never nail it down. When I look back at my answers to this question it usually reflects directly on what I’ve just read. I don’t typically read books just because it’s written by a specific author. I used to think Stephen King was a quick read, pulp fiction type author. I loved his book on JFK but figured that was different b/c it wasn’t horror. Then I read The Stand and realized how genius he really is. I like books that carry a message or tell a story with meaning and emotion – usually heavy reads. Every once in a while my brain gets tired from reading them, though and I need a light, funny book, like a chickflick on paper… Did I evade the question long enough?

9) Any interesting writing quirks?

I prefer to write at my desk, in quiet – no music, no tv, nothing. I like to have my desk light on, even if it’s not dark. I save parts I should cut b/c I don’t like to see them go – putting them in another file and tricking myself that I’ll use them later lets me take them out of the story. I never use them later but I haven’t figured that out yet.

10) If you could cast your book who are some of the actors you would choose to play your characters?

I tried to do this a bit ago and realized how old I am and how old Hollywood is! All my favourites – even the actors I consider ‘young’ are way too old to make this movie. I came up with: Colton Haynes for Brogan, Jennifer Lawrence for Emily, Robert Sheehan for Thomas and Michael Cera for Henry.

Author Q&A with Ashley Bennion of TAKING NIGHT

Taking Night Final book cover.inddHappy Friday everyone! To kick off this first weekend of December we have a special treat for you: a fun interview with indie author Ashley Bennion! Ashley has recently self-pubbed her first Young Adult (YA) novel, a light dystopian called TAKING NIGHT, available on Amazon. So without further ado…

1) Tell us a bit about what Taking Night is about.

To me, Taking Night is about family and relationships set to the backdrop of a dangerous future world where nothing is at it seems. Plot-wise, it follows Shay Andrews who lives in a time where dreaming has stopped, but she starts dreaming again and then has to question everything she’s ever been taught, by the people she trusts most (her parents).

2) Fans of who/what will like this book?

There are plenty of twists and turns so I think anyone who likes a page-turner will like this book! But it skews more towards dystopian YA and a bit of sci-fi.

3) What inspired you to write the book?

So, so many things inspired me to write this book. I’ve been a professional writer for 10-years and always wanted to write a novel but it wasn’t until recently that I felt I had the time (with two kids at home that seems funny to write) and an idea. The idea actually came to me while I was in the chair at the dentist – I’m terrified of the dentist – and wished I could be put to sleep for the cleaning but then how would I really know what had happened?

4) Do you have any writing quirks?

I’m not sure if this is a quirk, but I have to have music on to write (with lyrics) and music on to edit (without lyrics).

5) What made you decide to self-pub and how did you find the process?

I tried the traditional route for a few months and received the same consistent feedback: Good story, has potential, but the genre is flooded and we can’t take a chance on a debut author. I could have stayed at it, I know people who spend years doing that, but that’s not me. I wanted to move forward and I didn’t want to shelve something I’d worked so hard on, so decided to do it myself. The process has been interesting. I’ve learned a lot about myself (I’m impatient and want things to happen like, now) and really bad at formatting!

6) What would you say to writers who are struggling to find agents or traditional publishing contracts?

I would say you have to ask yourself what you want out of this. Is it a publishing contract with a publisher? Then keep at it. The industry is changing and it’s quite subjective so someone out there might buy your book. But if what you want is to get your book out there now, self-publishing is a great, relatively easy way to do that. With much higher royalties! And don’t forget, even with a publishing contract you’re still doing a lot of marketing yourself.

7) What are some of your favourite authors/books and why?

The funny thing is I am a big Canadian Lit fan – Atwood, Findley, Ondaatje are my favourites. I actually don’t read a lot of YA but of course loved The Hunger Games.

8) What was the most difficult part of the whole process and what was something you found unexpectedly easy?

That’s a good question! I had a number of close calls; publishers who liked the book but just not enough to buy it, or agents who really reluctantly turned it down because of the genre. So that part was tough in the beginning, getting so close is almost harder than being turned down outright. And I have to say, something that was unexpectedly easy was the actual writing part – I loved every minute of it.

9) Plans for a sequel?

Yes! Absolutely. I am so totally obsessed with my characters that I’m definitely not ready to say goodbye quite yet. I haven’t decided if this will be a two-part series or three, but I will definitely be done a second book next year. Stay tuned!

Visit to McMurrich Junior Public School

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 8.54.02 AMLast Friday I had the pleasure of visiting the grade six class of McMurrich JPS!

We talked about books, writing and the publishing process, as well as addressed issues of conservationism and animal diversity.

The students were bright, focused and asked some really great questions.

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Students were also working on descriptive paragraphs and editing each other’s work.

The class is going to vote on the best ones and they’ll be published on my website, so stay tuned!

At the end of the visit, their awesome teachers, Ms. Capitao-Tavares and Ms. Rambaran, raffled off ten books to their lucky students, which I then had the pleasure of signing.

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 8.51.39 AMThanks guys, hope to see you soon and looking forward to those paragraphs!

xo

Alisha

If you would like Alisha to come and speak to your class, please email alishasevigny at gmail.com. Talks can be adapted for grades six and up.