Facebook Fandom

Date: Monday January 26, 2009
Posted in: Author profile

I didn’t know I knew 173 people, but yes, that’s how many of you have joined my FaceBook fan page.


Thanks for joining and your interest in ACADIAN STAR. It has been a wonderful couple of months since the book was released here in Canada and I’ve had a blast reading your reviews and e-mails. ACADIAN STAR will be released in the US  and abroad in just a few short months.

I’ll be signing copies at the Ontario Library Association conference this Friday at the Kate Walker and Co. booth (2:15), so Dew Drop Inn if you’re around.

And to others who’d like to find me on FaceBook, here I am:

I hope everyone’s keeping warm on this chilly January day!


We now pause for a bit of comic relief…

Date: Friday January 23, 2009
Posted in: The shorties

My life as a writer (between magic shows and feats of telepathic genius).

Little M: Momma, Momma, you wanna see a magic trick?

Me: No (this may *seem* harsh but I’d been subjected to about 3 hours of magic tricks by then)

Little M: But it’s a really good one.

Me: How about making your magic kit disappear from the table so I can serve lunch?

Little M:  Oh, Momma, Momma, do you want me to read your miiinnnndddd???

Me: Sweetie, if you could read my mind, you’d know to stop asking me that…

Good thing she’s incredibly adorable as well as being telepathic…


Date: Wednesday January 21, 2009
Posted in: Author profile

Would you like me to come to your school or library for an author presentation?

Presentation choices:

Grades k-3: My 45 min presentation consists of:

-details about my picture book I Dare You Not to Yawn

-an exploration of how certain words, actions, and things can make you feel sleepy

-an interactive ‘I Spy’ game showing the before and after of illustrations

-a reading of I Dare You Not to Yawn and a yawning challenge

Grades 2-4: My 45 min presentation consists of:

-details about my junior chapter books Keep Out! and Water Hazard

-facts about endangered species

-fun facts about how books are published and what it’s like to work with an illustrator

Grades 4-8: My 45 min presentation consists of:

-details about my tween novels in the Real Mermaids series

-Power Writing Techniques

-the business of writing

Grades I will present to: Grades K to 8

Rates: $250 for one (45 min) session, $450 for two, $650 for three, $850 for four (max 4 sessions per day) plus travel from Markham. HST extra.

Maximum number of students per session: 60-80 (flexible)

Venues I am comfortable in: classroom, library, auditorium, gymnasium

Is this flexible? Yes

Equipment requirements: LCD projector/screen/ lapel microphone for larger groups

Here’s what a teacher had to say about one of my recent presentations:

I was fortunate enough to have Hélène Boudreau visit my grade 4/5 classroom this year. I had been reading her novel, ACADIAN STAR, to my students as a Read -Aloud, which they looked forward to and LOVED listening to every day. She came in to read the last few chapters to them as a surprise. They were truly captivated by her. A positive experience for my students who would otherwise not have had this wonderful opportunity!!!

-Sara Uddin of C.D. Farquharson Junior Public School

So, if you’re a teacher or librarian and you’d like to book a visit, please visit CONTACT ME to get in touch or check out my profile on the Authors’ Booking Service website for more information.

Family Literacy Day ~ January 27, 2009

Date: Tuesday January 20, 2009
Posted in: Reading

This is what I’ll be doing on Saturday!

National Family Literacy day, January 27 2009, promotes the importance of learning and reading. Reading books together with your children encourages good literacy habits and develops strong reading skills. In celebration of FLD 2009, all branches of Markham Public Library have some very exciting community events planned on Saturday January 24, 2009. Please join us and have fun together!

From the MPL website.

THE THREE LITTLE PIGS and plotting…OCD Style

Date: Thursday January 8, 2009
Posted in: Writer's Toolbox

Just wanted to expand a little bit on my previous post regarding plotting. I base my method on ‘the Rule of Three’. The theory being that the pacing of a story is very effective when grouped in threes, like for instance, The Three Little Pigs or The Three Bears.

In writing itself, The Rule of Three is manifested over and over. Three major plot points, or acts, three levels of conflict (man against himself, man against man, man against his environment) three levels to the climax, three stages in a scene (the beginning, the middle the end), the strategy is used again and again (and again).

Just for example, I’ll illustrate how something like The Three Little Pigs would fit into my process. Of course, TTLP is not a novel length story and wouldn’t fit into chapters this way, but stay with me for a sec.  :-) :

Chapter 1: Inciting incident

   The three little pigs get kicked out of the house by their parents and told to go make their mark on the world.

Chapter 2: and then what happened…   They go off on their merry way.


Chapter 3: and then what happened…   To make their mark on the world.


Chapter 4: Act 1: 

   The First Little Pig makes his house out of straw.

Chapter 5: and then what happened…    The wolf shows up.


Chapter 6: and then what happened…

   He huffs and he puffs and blows the house down. The first little pig runs to his brother’s house.

Chapter 7: Act 2: 

   The Second Little Pig makes his house of sticks.

Chapter 8: And then what happened?

   The wolf shows up.

Chapter 9: And then what happened?

   He huffs and he puffs and blows the house down. The first and second little pigs run to their brother’s house.

Chapter 10: Act 3: 

   The Third Little Pig builds his house out of bricks

Chapter 11: And then what happened?

   The wolf shows up.

Chapter 12: And then what happened?

   He huffs and he puffs but the house will NOT GO DOWN.

Chapter 13: Climax A 

   The wolf is furious. The pigs are nervous. (the fuse is lit!)

Chapter 14: Climax B   The wolf keeps huffing and puffing. The pigs build a fire. (watch it burn!)


Chapter 15: Climax C        
   The wolf goes crazy cause he can’t blow the house down! He climbs on the roof and goes down the chimney and falls in the fire….(Then kaboom!)

Chapter 16: Denouement

   The wolf runs away, the pigs are safe.

Chapter 17: Resolution

   They all live happily ever after.

Imagine if there were only two pigs. The level of tension would just not be the same. We just wouldn’t be as invested in them as characters because they would have succeeded too quickly without having struggled enough.

If there were four pigs, I think the story arc would drag on for too long, making us wonder ‘What the heck is wrong with these pigs? Don’t they ever learn?”

So. The Rule of Three.

Do you use it in your writing?

Plotting…OCD Style

Date: Tuesday January 6, 2009
Posted in: Writer's Toolbox

I’ve written about this before, but since I’m in deep (ha!) with REAL MERMAIDS DON’T WEAR TOE RINGS and it’s still fresh in my mind, I thought I’d share some of my plotting process with you guys. This is a system which enables me to write a first draft very quickly and helps to keep my story organized. It may make no sense at all, depending on your individual writing styles, but if you’re anal retentive like me, this might be useful.

I’m not sure if what I do is outline but I do begin with a loose framework when starting off a novel. I don’t typically do it as a one pager, rather, I set up my Word document through the ‘Document Map’ function and build out the story from there. I know that my story will follow this typical flow:

Inciting incident (The big problem)

Plot Point 1 (first obstacle)

Plot Point 2 (second obstacle)

Plot Point 3 (third obstacle-situation is about as bad as it can get)

Climax A(lighting the fuse)

Climax B (watching it burn)

Climax C (kaboom!)



So I set up my Chapter Headers and add a few lines under each to keep track of what may happen where. The attribution of chapters is arbitrary and only an example. I’ve attached a screen shot of RMDWTR so you can see what that looks like.


Chapter 1: Inciting incident: you may want to name your chapters to keep straight
   Write a few sentences about the character’s big problem

Chapter 2: and then what happened…
   Blah, blah, blah

Chapter 3: and then what happened…
   Blah, blah, blah

Chapter 4: Plot Point 1:
   Write a few sentences about the first big obstacle/conflict

Chapter 5: and then what happened…
   Blah, blah, blah

Chapter 6: and then what happened…
   Blah, blah, blah

Chapter 7: Plot Point 2:
   Write a few sentences about the second big obstacle/conflict/worse than the first

Chapter 8: 
   And then what happened?

Chapter 9: 
   Blah, blah, blah

Chapter 10: Plot Point 3:
   Write a few sentences about the third big obstacle/conflict/ worse than all three

Chapter 11: 
   You may go straight from  PP3 to the climax or there may be a building of tension/conflict to bring you there

Chapter 12:
   Blah, blah, blah…

Chapter 13: Climax A
   Lighting the fuse

Chapter 14: Climax B 
   Watch it burn…

Chapter 15: Climax C            
Then kaboom! Write a few sentences about each stage of the climax

Chapter 16: Denouement
   Then what happens?

Chapter 17: Resolution
   Tie up any story threads

Setting all this up in a document map using the HEADER function really helps me navigate the document, both from the initial set up to get the outline down and while writing, since all I need to do is fill in the holes. It makes it easier to skip ahead if I get an idea for a specific scene and having the document laid out, I can pinpoint approximately where it should go within the overall pacing of the story.

This is a loose guide I use for myself. Chapters get added in, merged and taken out while writing, and my initial outline usually changes as new ideas spring up, but it’s the most efficient way I’ve found to both ‘outline’ my story, keep track of pacing and organize my scenes.

And now you all know how anal I am.  Whistle


As I’ve mentioned, I navigate my document with the document map by attributing a header style to all my Chapters which, in turn, designs my document map. The document map pane on the left hand side of my screen is always open and all I have to do is click on ‘Chapter 3′ let’s say, and it jumps to that area of the manuscript. Very useful, saves a lot of time, and gives me a ‘global’ perspective on what could be a very long, unwieldy document.

To set it up, it takes a bit of fiddling and you may already have formatting in your WIP that will show up in the document map. (Check by clicking VIEW/DOCUMENT MAP)

If you want to experiment, save your WIP as a new document. (I don’t want to be responsible for screwing up your oeuvre, ack!)

Clearing all formatting will start you off fresh, but you’ll lose italics, double spacing and the works, so it’s easiest to start this from the get go. For an already existing WIP, hilight the areas where you’ve marked your chapters (i.e. Chapter One) and choose FORMAT/STYLES AND FORMATTING then choose a header style for your chapters. Once you do this for every chapter, it will map it out in the document map and you can take a look at VIEW/DOCUMENT MAP to see what yours looks like.

If you have a bunch of other stuff showing up, I think there’s a way to filter your document map so you only see the header style that you’ve chosen for your chapters, thereby ‘hiding’ the other stuff, but I haven’t looked into that.

I hope I haven’t confused you and also hope this is helpful. Let me know if you try it out!

…If you’re OCD and you know it, wash your hands…

Related post: The Three Little Pigs and Plotting…OCD Style

2008 A year in review…

Date: Sunday January 4, 2009
Posted in: Random

What an amazing year it’s been:

Jan: Started BIG SPLASH Jan3/2008. Yup, you did the math correctly. That’s one year and one day ago. But, there were a few pause buttons in between then and now.

Feb: Got an offer to write a non-fic book (CRIMEBUSTING & DETECTION).

March: ACADIAN STAR was accepted for  publication

March to July: Worked through all my revisions for ACADIAN STAR

April to June: Wrote 2 other non-fiction books (MIRACULOUS MEDICINES and SWIMMING SCIENCE)

July/Aug: Took a break, and frolicked in Nova Scotia for a month with the chicklets

June to present: Worked on submitting chapter book series A to agents

Aug to Nov: Worked on revisions of chapter book series  B

Oct: ACADIAN STAR was released. Book tour followed


Nov: Decided to revive this fun story about a teenage hydro-phobic mermaid.

Dec: Chapter book series B was accepted for publication just before Christmas.

Jan: SWIMMING SCIENCE is released

Nov to present: Wrote 33,000 words and finished the first draft of BIG SPLASH. Yay!

I’m taking the rest of the night off…