Got news that I received my first writing grant from the Ontario Arts Council (OAC). Applied throughout the whole year for what seems like a thousand grants (not really but seemed like it). Celebrated 1st Anniversary of Sanofa's Pen (African-Canadian Writers for Children and Young Adults). Set up a table for Sankofa's Pen at the Ontario Black History Society Black History Month Brunch.
Attended my first Society for Children Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Conference (ever) in New York City. Amazing experience! Met a lot of writers, got tons of inspiration, and learned to set up my own website. Read about my experience here.
Used the OAC grant to go to Quebec City to do research for my upcoming title, Malaika Smile (working title), which is the sequel to Malaika's Costume. Super beautiful and fun experience. Read about that experience here. Had tea with one of my favourite authors and colleagues, Coe booth. Attended the diversity panel of the NYC Teen Author Festival at NYPL. Read about it here. Got news of admission to the Humber School of Writers Program and received the Bram and Bluma Appel Scholarship towards my studies.
Wrote some pretty good blog posts that month. Let's just ponder that for a moment.
Attended SCBWI Montreal (SCBWI Canada East chapter) conference where I had my first chapter of my middle grade novel draft critiqued, a chapter of another novel workshopped, and two first page pitches. Amazing! Plus I displayed my portfolio. Read about that experience here. I also began the Humber School for Writers Correspondence Program with Richard Scrimger to finish a middle grade novel manuscript that I started 6 years ago. I should probably blog about that experience... one day.
Attended the 21st Century Children's Non-Fiction Conference in Riverdale (Bronx), New York. So much fun and had a critque of two non-fiction chapters from books I am working on by author/artist, Roxie Munro. The photo ended up in Publishers' Weekly. You can read about all of that here.
Promotion of Malaika's Costume at Toronto Caribbean Carnival Junior Carnival parade and Toronto Reveller Mas Camp. Got a car. I only mention this here because it has made a HUGE difference for me in the rest of the year. Less exhaustion and falling asleep on public transit but also less time to read. Answer: Audiobooks
- got to "play mas'" at the Toronto Caribbean Carnival
- co-taught a 3-day course called Beyond Black History Month: Teaching African-Canadian Experiences Throughout the School Year to teachers from across Ontario
- attended my first Highlights Foundation Retreat in Honsdale, Pennsylvania called the Revision Retreat (cool title) thanks to another scholarship
Author, storyteller, activist, and business owner Itah Sadu and the wonderful staff at A Different Booklist bookstore celebrated their 20th anniversary with a Book Blocko and devoted the first part of the day to honour Black Canadian Children's Book authors. I reached out to my group Sankofa's Pen (African-Canadian Writers and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults) and we had a wonderful afternoon, under the tent, complete with wine and cake-cutting,... Preview copies of my Music and Media books in the Sankofa Series arrive. The books are part of a 15-book educational series published by Rubicon Publishing Inc. and will be launched in 2016.
Volunteered with the Humber School of Writers booth at the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) and who chance I meet? None other than White Teeth best-selling author, Ms. Zadie Smith. Here is a summary of our conversation from my Facebook post:
You know how it is. Just 2 Black Jamaican women authors hanging out. NOT. Ms. Smith your treatment of economic class and race in the context of your novel was brilliant and complex. The tale of intertweaving lives, the three prominent ethnic groups of today's London-- black, white, brown-- groups whose histories greatly impacted each other, now confined in a working-class neighbourhood, was refreshing and timely. This is NOT what I said to Zadie Smith. Instead, I was like... me mumma... blouse and skirt... (heart beating fast) My name is Nadia. I'm a teacher and a writer. (Nervous giggle.) I'm a little nervous. My parents are Jamaican too. (What part? She asked. I said St. Ann. She said St. Elizabeth, hers.) Thank you for writing books and mentioning children's books in your talk today. I write children's books. (Did I say that already?) Can I get a picture with you? ( So my blithering can end on a high note?) Of course, she said. Thank God for humble, gracious bestselling authors.
And plus, she said she'd look out for my book when it comes out. Exciting!
Spoke at my very first Canadian Society for Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers (CANSCAIP) meeting. I became an official Member of CANSCAIP (instead of staying a Friend as I have been for the last few years) and the Writers' Union of Canada (TWUC).
Attended the Canadian Society for Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers (CANSCAIP) Packaging Your Imagination (PYI) Conference. Had my first chapter of middle grade novel critiqued by an agent. In attempt to complete my work the Humber School of Writers and with the motivation and competition from NaNoWriMo, I completed my very first novel-length manuscript for a middle grade audience. Oh my sore wrists. Started taking a course in playwriting with Paula Wing at the Tarragon Theatre as I work on transforming my picture book(s) Malaika... into a play. Attended my first TD Canadian Children's Literature Awards with all the glitz and glamour and siss, boom, bah. Got to selfie, photobomb, and chat with wonderful talent. I love the kidslit community. This was particularly exciting too because my first book review in print I wrote for Caroline Pignat's Gospel Truth in the Canadian Children's Children's Book News magazine. This book was nominated for one of the Children's Book Awards, won the Governor General's Award in 2015, and other awards. Caroline shared with me that my review of Gospel Truth was also the first one for this book. Awesome!
Signed my contract with Groundwood Books for Malaika Smile (working title) for my upcoming first picture book, Malaika's Costume. Malaika Smile will be in bookstores Fall 2017. Finished my playwriting course with 5 rough scenes. Preview copies of Malaika's Costume arrives. Read more about that here.
Here are some photos from the rest of September to December 2015.