Chocolate + Rosemary 1

October 21, 2014

They say rosemary is for remembrance. Shakespeare’s Ophelia did at least. They even say it improves your memory and one of my favourite authors wrote about planting it by the garden gate so, at our house, it most definitely is. In fact we have it in such abundance the local bees have our joint permanently loaded into their internal GPS. Seriously, we have So Much Rosemary. It’s a bit insane.




In order to utilize our herbaceous bounty I dot the delicate, purple flowers on top of cakes and finely chop long curling sprigs of it for meat and roast vegetables. I snip stalks off and plunk them into small glass bottles just to have around the house or dotted down the middle of a table and B1, our eldest, munches on it raw?! (That’s taking it too far for me personally). Still, I’m a rosemary-seeking missile when I read cookbooks and if a recipe calls for rosemary it’s probably going to get a run in our kitchen. You can already guess, I’ll bet, just how thrilled I was to spot rosemary in Marian Keyes‘ cookbook, Saved by Cake. A recipe that requires rosemary? A sweet recipe with rosemary? I’m in. Hastily getting out the bowls and measuring cups…


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Sweet Little Something 4

October 18, 2014

Happy Sweet Little Something!  We have an extra reason to celebrate this week: Ria’s novel, The Opposite of Geek, has been shortlisted for the White Pine Award! Join us in a raucous HUZZAH! And have yourself a piece of cake while you’re at it…

Have a great weekend!

From Hannah:


From Ria:



Scones and a Time Machine 6

October 12, 2014


Okay: we’re going to pretend you and I are in my kitchen (I cleaned especially for your visit!) and I’m making raspberry scones. We’re going to have warm scones and tea and a good old chin-wag, but first, you’re on a stool by the fridge, and I’m wielding my pastry knife, trying not to get my new shirt (don’t you love it?) floury. We’re talking about—you guessed it—food and writing. And since the food is right in front of us, transforming into something delicious, it’s only natural to talk about the other half of that perfect pairing…


So, I’ve been a kidlit author for quite a few years now. I love it. I’ve explored writing lots of genres for kids—Young Adult, Middle Grade, picture books, illustrated story books, poetry. I want to do more of this, always more. But I didn’t start out this way. I was once a young writing student who wrote for adults. It’s kind of odd for me to think about that. I’ve been in kidlit world for so long and with such intensity that I’ve completely given up my for-adult writing. Until now.

One thing I haven’t tried writing for kids or teens: short stories. Not because I don’t want to, but because I’ve been pretty busy with the other genres jostling for space in my head. But I did write short stories for adults when I was starting out, and I loved them. It’s just been a (long) while.


So, the reason I bring all this up is because I recently took a look in one of my old writing files and found some stories from those bygone years. And man, was it fascinating. And a little strange. Because in several ways, that was a different person’s writing. In age, stage of life and geography, a different person, but also in attitude and aesthetic. I was single (or at any rate, not married), debt-free (today: hello, mortgage) and on a creative high made that much higher by school and classmates and assignments.

Looking at this old work is like a peek back in time. Isn’t that the great thing about the written word, after all? It’s a record, whether an account of a Roman battle or a journal entry from my grade five diary. These stories aren’t just stories. They are a record of my development as a writer. They tell me about myself at a particular moment in my life. One I sometimes forget about these days.



So in a way, delving into that old file of stories is like finding buried treasure. More than that, it’s a chance to get some of that old mojo back. Because I’ve kind of forgotten how I used to write. Perspectives change over time. Energy wanes or transforms. Styles develop. Things sometimes need to be remembered. And from this, maybe something new can happen. As a keener student, it felt a lot like Dr. Seuss said: “Oh the places you’ll go.” Now I’m at a place where I can ask, “Where have I been so far?” Answering that with evidence from my past writing is a great way of fertilizing my current work. It’s coming full-circle. It’s the past me helping the present me, just like my classmates did in workshops all those years ago.


And it makes me want to be that past me, at least a little bit (she was pretty fun). I’ve decided to open up the short story file again. To look around and see what I can do not for kids. There’s nothing like a big chunk of time to give a writer perspective on their work.

Okay, enough of my blathering. Tell me your news. And let’s eat these while they’re still warm.






Sweet Little Something + Book winners! 7

October 10, 2014

We have winners!! The generous people at Simon and Schuster gave us two copies of Marissa Stapley‘s Mating for Life to give away and we’re just about to do just that. If you didn’t get a chance to read Marissa’s interview and the competition entries please check it out here. All you had to do to enter was tell us what you are mated to for life, what you love and cannot live without. We absolutely LOVED all your answers; it was really challenging to select just two. In the end we chose Angie and Shireen as our winners; congratulations! A big thank you to everyone who played along. Please stay tuned for more competitions and give aways.

And finally, in the spirit of celebrating Marissa’s book and your fantastic comments this week’s Sweet Little Something depicts something each of us could not bear to live without. Please leave us a haiku or comment below; we love to hear from you and we do send good karma your way when you do. Truly.

Have a happy weekend!

From Hannah: My Sister. And a camera (though the one she is pictured with might not be overly effective). It doesn’t need to be a snazzy camera, the camera on my phone will suffice and I am an instagram addict. I guess I’m just a snap-happy, sister-lurvin’ kinda girl.


From Ria: Nature. I’m lucky to live in a gorgeous part of the world, with inspiring everyday sights outside my door. I try to maintain a child-like wonder about it all (just check out this Horse Chestnut seed pod. Amazing and beautiful.), which means I’m never bored when I’m outdoors. Having a three year old helps too.



How she does it: Marissa Stapley (+ Book giveaway!) 13

October 4, 2014

The story of how Marissa and I *met* : Around this time last year a book arrived in my mailbox from my Canadian publisher. It was a novel titled Mating For Life, written by Marissa Stapley. {SPOILER ALERT: You could win a copy! Keep reading. Yes, to the very end of the post. Cheeky.} I expected to take my time reading the book but once in I was IN and IN DEEP. Marissa’s writing is rich and authentic, her characters real and flawed and hopeful, her plot woven together so beautifully, so elegantly, I just couldn’t put it down. I love that the chapters are titled after animals that mate for life (including references to the animals hidden within each chapter) and I love the settings, especially the family cottage on Muskoka island. Mating for Life is an enchanting read and I was gob-smacked to learn that Mating for Life is Marissa’s debut novel. Watch this space, I say.


Since then, Mating for Life has been published, with a beautiful and evocative cover I should add, and Marissa has been busy busy busy with Life and Family and Writing. But from the moment I put down Marissa’s novel and looked her up online (what? That’s not stalk-y. Stalk-y isn’t even a word.) I knew we had to feature her on How She Does It. And now I have her responses to our favourite questions I wish I could thieve the answers for my own How She Does It. I’d also like to be invited to the dinner party please, should that magic ever occur. I promise to bring the chips and dip?


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