Writing Portfolio

Manuscript Title: The Haiku Connection
Category: Young Adult
Word Count: Approximately 85,000 Words
Format: Novel
  Jess, a Canadian teen of Caucasian descent who has lived half her life in Japan, returns home to Canada, and on her first day of school, inadvertently offends Kei, a Canadian girl of Japanese ancestry whom she mistakenly assumes is Japanese. As the parallel stories of the two protagonists finally intersect and weave together, their friendship grows along with their increasing affection for Kei’s grandmother–Obāchan–who helps them answer a question they frequently ask of themselves: “Who am I?” Honourable Mention, 32nd Annual Atlantic Writing Competition. (Title: All Shook Up.)


“You have woven so much into this story–history and nostalgia, coming-of-age angst, information on Japanese language and culture…and it worked!”–32nd Atlantic Writing Competition Judge.

You have great bones for a strong story here, Peggy. I hope you are open to refocusing your narrative. I do think it’s easier to revise than to completely start from scratch, and so you should take heart that you already have the necessary ingredients for something wonderful.”–Patricia Ocampo, former Transatlantic Literary Agency agent (Currently Managing Editor of Simon and Schuster Canada)

Manuscript Title: Emma and Bud, A Love Story
Category: Children’s, Ages 4-8
Word Count: 1494
Format: Storybook Text.
  While dog-sitting Bud–a golden retriever who has been diagnosed with hemophilia–Emma staunches his excessive bleeding after an accident by giving up her most meaningful possession, a parting gift she’d received from her best friend Kate, whose move to the far side of the country has left her feeling lonely. (No submissions made since reducing the text from 3000 words to 1500 in response to Rick Wilkes comment below.)


“You’ve constructed an engaging text that describes many of the issues associated with hemophilia in an easy-to-appreciate fashion…  Having said that [manuscript ‘too long’; ‘no’ to publication], we do think your story would appeal to kids.”–Rick Wilkes, Editor, Annick Press ltd.

Manuscript Title: Green Glass and Gum Wrappers
Category: Children’s, Ages 4-6
Word Count: 629
Format: Picture Book Text
  Christopher overhears his mother and her friend talking about their plans to sell antiques and collectibles, so he scavenges for objects (sea glass, birds’ feathers, etc.) then holds an impromptu sale, after which he buys treats for his friends with the proceeds. When he returns home, he finds the adults are still talking.


“As with some of A.A. Milne’s humour and language, young children miss the point.”–Atlantic Writing Competition Judge. (Need I say I loved A.A. Milne’s writing when I was a kid?)


“Your story is imaginative, and the child’s misunderstanding of various words is quite amusing…”Sandra Bogart, Editor, Scholastic TAB Publications.

Manuscript Title: Little Like Me
Category: Children’s, Ages 4-6
Word Count: 1,165
Format: Picture Book Text
  Megan asks her mother, “Were you ever little like me?” and after she checks out the family’s baby records and photo albums, she finally spots the answer in a photograph that includes an antique highchair. Just as the two of them finish creating a scrapbook together that provides the proof, her grandmother arrives for a visit, followed by her dad’s return from work, and Megan repeats the question. Her detective work continues, only this time, an old wooden cradle provides the clue.


“Thank you for sending me another of your stories.  I can certainly see the appeal…I wish you success with it.”Maggie de Vries, Children’s Book Editor, Orca Book Publishers

Manuscript Title: Three Little Fishes: Nonsense Verse to Rock Your Boat
Category: Juvenile
Word Count: 22-25 Poems
Format:
  These nonsense poems, collected under the title above, are thematically related to the sea, though some are loosely so. A few of them would work well as a board book or picture book, since each possesses a distinct story arc that has a beginning, middle and end.


The Silly Sea Songs remind me of Dennis Lee’s work for children: they are funny, playful, and ‘hang together’ quite well...One Fateful Foggy Day is funny and original.”–Atlantic Writing Competition Judge.

Manuscript Title: Planet Poltergeist
Category: Middle Grade/Young Adult
Word Count: 52,006
Format: Novel
  Three boys–a Canadian, Guyanese and Japanese–meet while on vacation, and are later transported to a remote Earth-like planet where they attempt to save it from destruction by a vindictive princess. The story is the working out, in the present, of a Japanese legend with roots in the far past.


3rd Place, 11th Annual Atlantic Writing Competition submitted under the title, Orbus; or, A Tale of the Tenth Planet.


“Interesting contrast between the ‘every-day-ness’ of the children’s lives–the market, the bath, painting the boat and the marvellous adventures awaiting them … Good to have a Canadian hero.”–Atlantic Writing Competition Judge.

“Very well-written, well-developed and interesting ms. The devices used to pull the various parts of the tale together seem to work well. The characters are generally well-developed; the boys’ dialogue believable… Enjoyed reading this.”Atlantic Writing Competition Judge.

Manuscript Title: Prince Nicolai and the Empty Box
Category: All Ages
Word Count: 1482
Format: Storybook Text (An original fairy tale)
  A Prince chooses an unusual way to make a decision on whom to marry by inviting each eligible maiden in the kingdom to attend his party with an empty box–one that each believes will be the right size and shape for the wedding gift he has selected. Only one young lady from among them is smart enough to guess what that is!


Long-listed by the The Writer’s Union of Canada (TWUC) Writing for Children Competition 2012, from among eight hundred and sixty-nine submissions.


Beautiful, a lovely story, well told.  I loved the playfulness throughout.”–a TWUC (The Writer’s Union of Canada) 2012 Writing for Children Competition judge.


“What a beautifully written fairy-tale!  This story has all the elements of a traditional fairy-tale with just enough hints of more modern sensibilities to make it contemporary and original i.e. the fact that the prince had so many female friends that it was difficult for him to choose one… What an absolutely satisfying, and perfectly lovely tale! I think children + adults alike will be as enchanted as I was with The Empty Box.”Annual Atlantic Writing Competition Judge.


“This is a charming story…we are not currently seeking fairy tales. I encourage you to try another publisher.”–Maggie de Vries, former Children’s Book Editor, Orca Book Publishers

Manuscript Title: The Gift Horse
Category: Children Ages 4-8
Word Count: 1,972
Format: Storybook Text
  Liam is disappointed by the hobbyhorse he receives for Christmas, so his grandpa tells him a tale that illustrates the expression “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”. This original story reads like a folktale within a contemporary framework.


“I enjoyed reading ‘The Gift Horse’.  You do tell a story well.”Maggie De Vries, former Children’s Book Editor, Orca Book Publishers

Manuscript Title: The Great Figley Kumquat
Category: Children’s, Ages 4-8
Word Count: 1464
Format: Picture Book Text
  Figley Kumquat offers to help his neighbour with yard work after Mr. Logan breaks a leg, and during the Logans absence the following day, Figley secretly completes Mrs. Logan’s list of chores, during which time his first disastrous efforts finally meet with success.  In the end, Figley is happy by the change this makes in his life, but his father is not! [No submissions made.]
Manuscript Title: The Tale of Tuatara
Category: All Ages
Word Count: 1486
Format: Storybook Text (An original fairy tale).
  A tuatara–a spiny lizard with a vestigial third eye–is abandoned on the doorstep of a home and adopted by the owners, a childless couple. His “mother” suggests practical ways for him to overcome his lack of confidence, and he quickly develops his talents, thus becoming a household name throughout the land. Consequently, his self-esteem grows. There is a plot twist at the end of the tale, and all ends happily ever after. [No submissions made.]
Manuscript Title: Upside-Down Cherry Pie
Category: Children Ages 4-8
Word Count: 1,581
Format: Picture Book Text
  Jen and her mother have a ritual of remembering “Grandma” by following one of grandma’s dessert recipes every Wednesday. When her mom is unable to be there one day and postpones the event, Jen proceeds on her own. The result is a mess, but it’s a tasty mess! Includes a recipe for Upside-Down Cherry Pie at the end of the book. [No submissions made.]
Manuscript Title: Where is Far, Far Away?
Category: Children Ages 4-8
Word Count: 1446
Format: Storybook Text
  A young girl leaves behind her home in Ontario for a new country, Japan, and learns the power of friendship along the way. (Autobiographical).


“Your story is touching, but we have just published a story about a child’s journey that has a similar feel to it.”–Maggie de Vries, former Children’s Book Editor, Orca Book Publishers

Manuscript Title: I See the Moon!
Category: Children Ages 3-6
Word Count: 1000
Format: Picture Book Text
  A light, warm-hearted story in rhyme about Christopher, whose excitement at seeing the lights come on in a barbershop, a park, streetlamps and his Aunt Mel’s house causes him to exclaim, “I see the moon!” Text must be synchronized with page turning for best effect. The final verse has Christopher being tucked into bed from where he looks up and says, “I see the moon!” (The illustrator, of course, shows that Christopher is absolutely right.) [No submissions made.]
Manuscript Title: A Trace of a Squeak
Category: Children 4-8
Word Count: 2,100
Format: Storybook Text
  A young boy and a professor oversee a research experiment with “volunteer” mice who get into trouble because of their curiosity.


“This is an original way to introduce a small child to scientific research in a university laboratory.”–Annual Atlantic Writing Competition Judge.

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