Hearing from your readers…

One of the best things to receive as an author, besides great questions from students when you visit their class, like this recent presentation to Queen Mary School, are letters. I have a busy weekend ahead answering the wonderful letters from the grade five students at this lower mainland elementary school. Below are some of my favourite messages from their letters. What better accolades can one receive than these:

  • What I liked about “Living Rough” were the cliffhangers.
  • Whenever you put a cliff hanger we wanted to read more.
  • I enjoyed your novel because it sounded so realistic.
  • It’s really inspirational!
  • I really enjoyed that your book could make me picture perfectly what was happening in the book.
  • I really improved my writing skills from your book. Also, I got a stronger, creative mind.
  • I love your book because it makes us a better person by making us care more about the homeless and about any people who have any problems at all.
  • I loved how you didn’t tell us Edgar’s secret. I think it is a very good strategy to pull people into the book.
  • Some suggestions that I have for you are that I really think that you should make a Living Rough #2.

And on this last note, it would be great fun to revisit my characters and give them a follow-up story. I have no shortage of ideas for what book two could entail: from this batch of letters and from previous notes from other students. Please keep reading books and sharing your wonderful messages with us – it is the best part of being an author!






New Year’s Resolutions

Back in 2007, I sat alone for New  Year’s Eve in my apartment. I was reflecting on my year and its many challenges. I was also looking ahead to what I could differently in the coming year. I knew one thing for certain, I wanted my New Year’s Resolution to be meaningful; I wanted my goal to be something that would bring me pleasure and fulfill my life-long dreams. I decided at two minutes to midnight that my resolution for 2008 would be to write a book. I had done some work for our school district and knew that Orca was publishing the kind of books I wanted to write: books that would appeal even to the most reluctant readers. My resolution was set!

Jump ahead to December 31st, 2008. I am in the same apartment and still don’t have plans for New Year’s Eve. Instead, I am madly writing and finishing the last lines of the story. At four minutes to midnight, I write, “The End.” I have accomplished my goal. I didn’t eat less chocolate or lose 50 pounds, instead, I did what I set out to do the year before: I finished writing my novel, Benched. Exhilarated by the prospect of achieving my goal again, I set a new Resolution for 2009. I decided I needed to workshop my completed novel and by the end of the year, send it off to Orca Book Publishers. I also threw in an additional challenge, just for fun. I would write a second book.

Now we are at December 31st, 2009. Though I had a few offers for things to do for New Year’s Eve, I stayed in so that I could complete my goal. At 10:00, I wrote “The End.” My second book was done! I also sent off my query for Benched to Orca a few weeks before the end of the year. I was amazed at how my Resolutions had helped me finish two books. So, naturally I set my new goals for 2010. To be published (okay, that was a little out of my control) and to write my third novel.

2011 saw both Benched and Living Rough published. I continued my goals each year of writing a new book, and sometimes even finished two. Although it wasn’t until 2016 that I was published again, the books were from each successive year of New Year’s Resolutions. I think I found a great way to ring in the New Year and it has kept me writing and being published, ever since. Now with Cutter Boy, On Cue, and Dead to Me coming out in 2016 and Epic Fail being released in 2017, I think I can say I am on a slow roll. Orca signed with me for Room 555 for 2019 and I have hopes for another book with Lorimer. Of course, there are still two other options floating around and I am writing a new book! Thank you New Year’s for making my dreams come true! Now back to work!

Throwback Thursdays

This article was posted on my original blog on 2/12/16


Today is the release date for Cutter Boy! I am anxious to have a book in my hands. As mentioned in my two previous blog posts, I plan to share the final artist showcased in my novel, through this post.

When writing a book, one may have the germ of an idea for a story. So much more has to come together for the story to have plot, tension and to be a compelling read. When I first decided to write about a boy who self-harms, I knew that was not enough. I knew the story needed more to be a compelling read, and it needed more to help those in distress and/or helping others who struggle.

When I first discovered paper-cut art and saw the artist, Béatrice Coron through my character’s eyes, it made it so much easier to peruse the web for more artists. I knew which ones my character was drawn to and why he connected with them. The last artist alluded to in my book is Canadian, Calvin Nicholls. His work can be seen here: http://www.calvinnicholls.com/

I was mesmerized by his work and it becomes a connecting moment between Travis and Chyvonne is the book. As Cutter Boy is released today, I hope that readers enjoy the art mentioned in the book and I hope

that the story helps those youth, who need to be heard.


Throwback Thursdays



Last week I started a 3-part blog in anticipation of the upcoming release of my first hi-lo YA novel with Lorimer Sidestreets. Cutter Boy will be released on February 12th and thanks to Netgalley, is receiving a high volume of ratings and reviews posted on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27788155-cutter-boy

Please see my previous blog post: Art in Cutter Boy – Take 1, for a synopsis of the story and for information on the first artist to be showcased from the novel, Béatrice Coron. You can order Cutter Boy here: Lorimer Sidestreets: http://www.lorimer.ca/sidestreets/Book/S/32/2893/Cutter-Boy.html

Once Travis (my main character) became hooked on paper-cut art through his discovery of Béatrice Coron, he searched the internet for other artists using this medium. In one scene I have him being introduced to the art of Elod Beregszaszi, who focuses on 3-dimensional and pop-up paper-cut art. A favourite piece for Travis is a set of lines that look like crazy stairs going nowhere: http://www.popupology.co.uk/galleries

The next artist to be featured here is Miriam Dion, a Canadian who studies in Quebec and uses newspapers and magazines to create her images. She often leaves parts of the text in tact, adding to her unique art. Travis refers to one piece as, The House That Screamed. Check out her work here: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2013/10/cut-lace-newspapers-myriam-dion/

As promised in my first blog on Cutter Boy, I am also including places to access support because of the sensitive nature of the story.

kidshelpphone: http://www.kidshelpphone.ca/teens/home.aspx

Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre: http://keltymentalhealth.ca/


Another Friday, the 13th

PAN article on Epic Fail

A previous re-post from 2014 was titled, Friday the 13th, Lucky or No? Well, yesterday was another Friday the 13th, and I have to say it was VERY lucky!! I received good news following my bone scan – I do not have a recurrence, or metastatic disease. This was a worry from February until now, but all is good! So, I can say with certainty, I am FIFTEEN years clear! Fifteen is a beautiful number, I have to say!

Also, yesterday saw the publication of an interview I did with Alex Browne at the Peace Arch News. Alex has a wonderful writing ability and honed in on the essence of my story, bringing it to life in an amazing way. Thank you, Alex for your thoughtful and insightful review of EPIC FAIL. The interview can be found by clicking on the link at the top of this page.

Throwback Thursdays

This was originally posted on my previous blog on: 1/27/16


As the publication date nears for my first novel in the Lorimer Sidestreets series, I thought it would be a good time to share some of the art that inspired this book. When I decided to write about the sensitive issue of self-harm, I knew that the story required me to be real. That meant going to difficult places as a writer, and it meant asking readers to go to those same dark places with me. Something light had to balance the story.

For so long, I didn’t write what was originally called, ‘Edge of Grey’ because I couldn’t find the ‘light’. I knew Chyvonne would be the friend Travis needs but I also knew the story required more. As a Faculty Advisor for a few years with UBC, I was introduced to the amazing world of TEDtalks.

One day my Facebook feed presented me with a talk by artist Béatrice Coron. It was about stories cut from paper. In that moment, I saw her work not as Cristy the writer, but as Travis, the character. I instantly knew this incredible art would speak to him, and I knew I now had a story. Thank you to Béatrice Coron for her fabulous paper-cut art and for introducing Travis to a whole new world. Her art, and the TEDtalk, can be viewed on her website: http://www.beatricecoron.com

While I know there are many things that need to come together for a person struggling with self-harm to move forward, including the support of a caring friend, teachers, parents and counsellors, I also know the power of healing, when an individual discovers a passion within them; be it art, music, dance, writing, or sports. Travis found art and that, combined with a good friend, was the first step on his journey forward.

I hope this story opens the conversation and allows us to talk about tough issues, particularly those affecting young males. I also hope it offers some light to those suffering in silence. Please reach out to supports in your community. Today is Bell’s National Let’s Talk Day, so let’s talk and let’s listen! Check out their web page here and youth supports on our Canadian Mental Health page. Next time I post I will share more supports within our local community and more of the art that inspires Travis.



Throwback Thursdays

First published on 11/8/2015 


Both Orca and Lorimer are to be congratulated on the covers for my two new YA hi-lo novels due out this Spring! I just received the Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) for On Cue. About 60 copies of the ARC were printed and they will be distributed to sales reps, major review publications, media sources, blogs and select contacts at various libraries, schools and bookstores. The hope is that the book receives positive reviews in advance of the publication date.

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My two previous books have met with mixed reviews. Living Rough has fared better than Benched with adult reviewers, but both books seem to garner positive feedback from the intended YA audience. I hope for good reviews for both of my new books. Here is a recent review that went up for Living Rough this month on Goodreads:

Brianna Manheim

Living Rough is a young teen novel that hits on the critical issue of homelessness and poverty. Although the book is pretty short, Watson manages to get across the hardships of being homeless and overall public assumptions, while still being able to give the readers a happy ending.

Edgar Allen Reed is a high school aged boy who lives with his father in a tent in the woods. Edgar, whose friends call him Poe, tries to hide his home situation from his peers and teachers as best as possible, that is until tragedy strikes. The best part of this novel is that it shows the raw emotion between the students when they have an in class discussion about poverty. I would definitely have this book available on my classroom bookshelf to provide exposure of these subjects to my students.

First Review for Epic Fail

October 2, 2017

Following a great interview with Alex Browne of the Peace Arch News last Friday for my newest  novel, Epic Fail, I was excited to see the first review go up for the book on Goodreads. It originated on net galley, and I was thrilled to see that the reviewer understood the parameters an author must follow for books in the hi-lo category. While they wished there was more time with the characters and story (a wonderful plus), they also recognized that for the targeted audience of reluctant/struggling readers, or English Language Learners, the chapters are short and the plot is fast-paced and linear. Thank you, Isaiah, for this great review! And in a few weeks, I should see the interview in the Peace Arch News for Epic Fail. Launch details to follow soon!




They are here!!


After a summer of visiting my family in Calgary and a few mix-ups with the mail, I came home at the beginning of September to find my box of books! An exciting feeling as I opened the box holding my sixth novel!

I always think of that moment in Back to the Future, when George McFly has followed his dreams, written his novel and the books arrive at his house. I remember thinking at that time how great it would feel to have a book published and to open a box full of my novels. I hoped I would have that experience some day.


In 1985, when Back to the Future first came out, I was attending the University of Calgary to become a teacher of high school English. I also had applied to the Creative Writing Program but was sadly declined a spot in the classes. It deterred me for many years but when I finally got my ‘writing groove’ back (somewhat like George McFly’s journey) I punched out a story and Orca Book Publishers said, ‘YES’! Here I am six books later, still thrilled every time I see my stories in print. Thanks, George McFly!


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