Category Archive – It’s here!

Unleash Your Story

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Come one, come all! Celebrate teen lit with us at this afterhours, teen only event! Love John Green? We’ll be lending out copies of his brand new book, Turtles all the Way Down – come out and beat the holds queue. Hear from Allan Stratton’s newest book, The way back home. And get some amazing writing tips from Deborah Kerbel, author of Feathered!


Don’t miss out!!

Welcome to the Teen Writers’ Club

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Would you consider yourself to be a young Rowling in the making? Is Shakespeare your guy? Feel at home whenever your pen is on paper, or your fingers on the keys? Check out VPL’s newest club for teens! Our Teen Writers Club is the place where you can write, discuss, and share with like-minded friends. You never know when a new idea from someone else will be just the inspiration you need! It starts at the Civic Centre Resource Library on September 12 at 3:30, and at Pierre Burton Resource Library on September 13 at 3:00pm, and then every other week after that. For ages 13-18, and no registration required.


Can’t wait to get together? You can upload your latest writing project on the WriteIt! Blog, and see what everyone is writing about.


Ronit & Jamil… & my disappointment

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I usually don’t write about books I didn’t love. I get very uncomfortable using my (modest) platform in a negative way, or even a less than positive way. But I feel like I need to make an exception in the case of Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin.

I was so excited about this book. The subject matter spoke to me on so many levels that I was almost bursting at the seams when I got it.

Ronit & Jamil is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet (get it?) set in present-day Israel. In this version, the star-crossed lovers are an Israeli daughter of a pharmacist and the Palestinian son of a doctor. And the whole story is told in verse or poems written by the protagonists.

I want to be clear: I didn’t hate this novel, I was just disappointed with it.

I wanted Ronit & Jamil to be amazing. I wanted it to move me and make me think. Sadly, it did not.

I mostly just felt that Laskin was hindered by the narrative structure she chose. The subject matter is so dense and so charged that a series of poems felt like a disservice. There is only so much a person can related in 14 lines of rhyming couplets.

I also felt, too often, that Laskin’s personal voice and politics weaseled their way into the text, making it difficult to believe the characters.

But I think the thing that was most upsetting to me was that it was clear in the writing that she was not actually from the region. She did a lot of research, that was evident. But you could tell she didn’t really know. It was in little things. It was in Ronit only knowing one Israeli singer, and it being the one who sings in English. In was in Ronit living in Ma’ale Adumim and saying it’s in the West Bank (regardless of whether it is or not, no one who lives there would say that). It was in Jamil quoting classic Muslim poets but no contemporary ones. At a time when so much emphasis is put on diversity in publishing, on authors of colour writing characters of colour, it felt out of place to have an outsider write something that requires an insider’s understanding.

I felt that Laskin skimmed the surface of a subject that deserved much more. Her book left me starving for more and I am eager to find it. We need more stories like these, stories that acknowledge the difficult reality we live in but recognize the glimmer of hope. But we need these stories to dig deep, to go the extra mile and represent the issues, we can’t just slap flowery language on the ugly bits and call it a day.

So no, I didn’t love Ronit & Jamil. But (!!) I urge you to read this book. You can do it in an hour (though that is another issue I have with it). Read it with an open mind and then please tell me what you think. And if you feel so moved, do me a favour and write your own version on our Write It blog because we need more stories about this and things like it.

Why I keep participating in NaNoWriMo even though I always fail

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I’m sure you’ve all noticed that it’s August. Which means that it’s the last month of summer (good news in my book but I know I’m not in the majority here). It means the TSRC party is coming up (BTW have you signed up yet? You really should).

For me, August also means that Camp NaNoWriMo just ended.

If you don’t know what that is, allow me to explain. NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, proper occurs every November. As the title suggests, the goal is to write a whole novel in one month. Camp NaNoWriMo is an extension of this that takes place in July, but the goal is the same.

People have been extremely successful with NaNoWriMO. I’ve heard E. K. Johnston and Rainbow Rowell (both of whom I love beyond words) praise it and the work they results they achieved while participating. And so I was inspired to try.

To date I have taken part in NaNoWriMo and it’s ilk a total of 4 times. And, as the title of this post implies, I have technically failed a total of 4 times. So… you know… every time I did it.

But come November I will be taking part again. Any here’s why:

It’s an amazing experience regardless of the outcome. I don’t want to get all mushy and clichéd and be all “it’s not the destination that matters but the journey,” but in this case (for me) that’s actually true. So while I never actually reached my goal, I learned a lot and achieved a lot. And at the end of each month I had written a lot, and there was more of my work than there was before. And that’s something.

This year’s Camp NaNoWriMo was the best yet. Yes, I “failed” again. My goal had started at 50,000 words, and I adjusted it to 20,000 halfway through (because 50,000 words in one month is insane and I am an awe of anyone who can achieve that) and still only wrote 10,000.

But at the same time, I wrote 10,000 words of a novel that I’ve been tinkering with for the last 10 years. That’s almost 2 full chapters that a month earlier only existed in my brain. I roughly outlined my entire novel and half of it in detail.

So while technically, I only achieved 50% of my goal, I actually managed so much more! So basically, I no longer think about it in terms of failing. It’s not just about the goal, it’s about the process and the work and the thrill you get while you’re writing.

Now, why have I just spent all this time praising my achievement? Well, because I think everyone who has ever thought about writing anything should try it out. And I know that a lot of you have. There’s time, you have until November to make up your mind. You can write whatever you want. It can be as private or as public as you want. You can keep it in a drawer or publish it on your blog, our Write It blog, on SELF-e or on Wattpad (like me). It’s completely up to you.

As for me, I just wanted to challenge you to take a leap with your writing. And no worries, I’ll remind you when November draws nearer.




Still time to apply for the Community Creative Collaboration!

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Community Creative Collaboration

Hiya guys.

Just a reminder that the deadline to apply for the Community Creative Collaboration is coming up.  Submission deadline is August 7th.  Click on the link for more details.  Good luck!