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.


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!




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).


CDN Cover

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.


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?


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?


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.


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.

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 8.52.59 AM
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!



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



Kiss a Frog; It’s National Golden Frog Day!


Panamanian Golden Frog – Photo by Brian-Gratwicke

Today is National Golden Frog Day! The Golden Frog, a cultural and ecological icon of Panama, was the inspiration behind Kissing Frogs. This little guy is among several hundred species of frogs that are currently going extinct. Now no longer found in the wild, the Golden Frog can only be seen in zoos and conservation centres, like the one in El Valle, where the characters of the book volunteer and where I spent several weeks researching and writing the book.

In honour of today I’m posting a few excerpts from the book below. I hope you enjoy and don’t forget about the frogs!

Excerpt 1

“Bienvenidos a Villa Paraíso.” Hector pulls into the property and parks. “Welcome to Paradise Villas.”

We tumble out of the van and behold an Eden-like utopia. Palm trees dot immaculate grounds, swaying gently beside a crystal-blue pool. Exotic birds fly between banana trees and butterflies flit among vibrant flowers. Colorful hammocks swing under a large open-air hut thing that promises shade and cool breezes. Three villas stand out on the lush property, their exterior stonework bringing to mind castles from mythical lands.

Continue reading →

Why Every Girl Needs a Bestie – Asp of Ascension Blog Tour

Asp_NEWProof2Today I’m thrilled to host Bethany Myers, author of the upcoming Asp of Ascension – a fun and fascinating mystery that’s been quoted as “Veronica Mars meets Indiana Jones.” AOA features a strong female friendship, something that – as ladies (and gents) everywhere know – is crucial to a happy and fulfilling life. Here’s what Bethany has to say about gal pals…

As much as I love a good romance, the best friend relationship is just as essential to any good story. In my new YA mystery, Asp of Ascension, the main character has her own love interest, but more importantly she finds a true best friend by the end of the book.

Here are the Top 10 Reasons Why Every Girl Needs a Trusty Sidekick.

1. She’ll Let You Ugly Cry
Broken bone or a broken heart? Doesn’t matter, your bestie is there when you need her with Kleenex and ice cream. She’ll be your rock and (if necessary) help you plan an act of revenge or at least a construct a pretend plan to lighten your spirits.

2. She Won’t Criticize
…Unless of course you need her to voice a strong and colorfully worded negative description of the enemy who has done you wrong. Some friends will tell you to let it go and just forget about it, but a true friend grabs the baseball bat and says, “Where does he live?”

images-13. She Will Always Show Up
A best friend will never stand you up or (and this is the worst) drop your plans to be with a guy.

4. She Understands Your Quirks
It’s so nice to be with someone who gets why you like to dip your French fries in chocolate sauce. And she always lets you have the seat that faces the door to the restaurant because you she knows you need to see who is coming and going.

5. She’s Free Therapy
Even if it’s only to say, “I’m sorry you’re hurting.” Sharing your problems with someone you trust is as therapeutic as any advice you’d get from a professional. Plus, someone who loves and cares for you will always have your best interest at heart.

Unknown6. She Is Your Cheerleader
Your best friend never underestimates the power of getting a little support or encouragement at the time when you need it the most.

7. She’s Your Person
When you need to hide a body or um …a burnt casserole, you know the one person that will always say yes.

8. She Shares Her Stuff With You
Jewelry, make-up, jeans, junk food, dating tips, books … the list goes on. We learn early in life that sharing means caring.

9. You Complement Each Other
She’s outgoing, but you’re more of a wallflower. You can think up a comeback in record time, but she always gets flustered. Best friends are often each other’s strengths and weakness. They hold each other up and step in when the other needs help.

10. She Calls You Out
This is the toughest, but most crucial aspect of the best friend. She loves you so much she’s unwilling to let you make stupid mistakes. Just ask Neville Longbottom, he earned ten points for Gryffindor because he tried to stop Harry and Ron from sneaking out of the common room. As Dumbledore said, “It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.”


Summer Romance Reading List: Life in the No-Dating Zone

NoDatingZoneAnother book on my summer reading list is Patricia Tighe’s Life in the No-Dating Zone. I feel like LITNDZ will be a fun one because it seems to have lots of delicious drama, great dialogue and is set in Texas, which is like a whole other world for most of us Canucks!

Here’s the official summary:

After surviving her parents’ relationship drama when her older sister elopes, Claire Gardner vows not to date during high school. Now, three years later, Claire is thrust into new relationship drama–her two best friends have boyfriends. Which means Claire is spending more and more time alone. And she’s more than a little peeved.

Enter Gray Langley. His year-long crush on Claire’s friend Lindsey has made him desperate enough to ask Claire for help. Hesitant at first, Claire agrees–anything to get rid of Lindsey’s current evil boyfriend. But as Claire and Gray plot together, an attraction develops, and now she must decide if being with Gray is worth the pain that will come from confronting her parents with the reasons for her vow.

Here’s what peeps are saying:

  • Love YA? Then you will *adore* this book about Claire’s vow to not date in HS, about her “helping out” a friend with a crush on a cute guy, with an Austen “Emma”-like twist. Sweet and fun.
  • The dialogue between the characters had me chuckling or cringing. I loved it. I found it realistic and well done.
  • A good YA book. Romance, awkward and funny moments. A happy read that will make you smile! I recommend it!

All three summer romances will be accompanying me to the cottage tomorrow; I can’t wait to dive in!




Summer Romance Reading List – Snark and Stage Fright

Oh, I love me some snarky goodness! The next book (or books) on my summer romance reading list is the Snark & Circumstance series by Stephanie Wardrop. This is a series of delightful novellas that culminate in SNARK AND STAGE FRIGHT, “the gripping, heartwarming and funny conclusion to the series” (which I’m currently loving). But don’t let the title fool you, despite all the “snark”, there’s still plenty of sweetness to go around…

22840280Here’s the official summary:

Georgia Barrett learns the hard way that happily ever after isn’t nearly as happy or as close to forever as Jane Austen would have us believe. Georgia’s sharp tongue costs her the only guy she’s ever really cared about: Michael Endicott.

Determined to move on, Georgia lands the lead role in the school’s fall musical. But to survive on stage, she’ll need to express herself without the protective shield of snark. She soon discovers being honest with others means being honest with herself, and the truth is; she’s still in love with Michael.

But from the looks of Michael’s new girlfriend, Georgia isn’t the only one moving on. Apparently, some people are just better at it than others. And when Michael and his girlfriend join the cast of the fall musical, Georgia finds out that snark and stage fright are the least of her worries.

The series is a modern spin on Jane Austen, so JA fans will especially enjoy it.

Here’s what a few folks are saying:

  • Stephanie Wardrop has a conversational, natural writing style that makes her a truly modern voice in YA. She’s a seriously talented writer who had me from the first word of the first page. This book was full of so many amazing lines it’s hard to choose a favourite.
  • I loved this book. I had read all of Wardrop’s previous novellas, and it was just such a pleasure to sit down with 200 uninterrupted pages!
    Wardrop has such an easy writing style that she effortlessly pulls you right into the story.
  • My favorite book in the Snark and Circumstance series, it’s full of witty dialogue, endearing characters, and angsty drama that all build to a perfectly satisfying conclusion.

If your looking for some fun summer reading, start the SNARK series today!