Angela Graham

Capturing childhood silliness and adventure


Some of my thoughts on life and writing.

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September - A Time for Renewal

Posted by on August 29, 2014 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (1)

I don't know where you live, but here in Ontario, Canada, we can feel the chilled hint of autumn in the evening breeze. Yes, I know it's still August, but the seasons around here taunt and tease that they are coming long before they arrive. That's part of the joy of being Canadian.

Parents and children are bustling about preparing to return to school. To start fresh. A new year.


It is time for me to start new, too.


Work for me had become too hectic. I was on a fast train that had picked up speed and was barrelling relentlessly down the track. Without even realizing it, the train had gained momentum and run away, accelerating to a speed that was unstoppable. Unnoticed, extra box cars had latched themselves to the train propelling it at a faster and faster pace. Familiar faces on the station platforms flashed by as it raced on. It was a runaway train, speeding down the track, passing stations without braking. Too fast to slow down. The train clattered down the track faster and faster. The wheels clicked and clacked, percussing an accelerated beat, drowning out the train's warning horns that it is charging through. The scenery blurred and whizzed by the windows. I held on tight for the ride, fearing that the train was uncontrollably racing toward an inevitable collision with an unforgiving brick wall, until my insides finally screamed out, “STOP THE TRAIN!”




The train stopped and there was silence.


I stepped off.


“All aboard!” the conductor shouted. I stayed put. I needed to take a break from the rails. I needed to travel at a much slower pace. I decided to catch a later train. A much later train.


The doors closed, the air brakes burst their release and the train lurched forward. It began to slowly chug down the track to its new destination. I waved good-bye to the other passengers as I watched the train roll away.


Then I walked home.


In the days and weeks following my stop, I pondered what would be next. As the echos of the clanging, honking racket of the train ride faded into a memory, perspective seeped in.


The scenery snapped into focus. I decided to take time to look at everything close to me, listen to it, experience it, write about it, teach it and no longer let it whiz on by.


I'm rebuilding how I travel so that I can enjoy the journey.


It's my season for renewal.

My Writing Process

Posted by on July 17, 2014 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I will begin this blog post with a wee confession and apology. As part of the ‘My Writing Process’ blog tour, I was scheduled to post this entry a while back, but life, as it goes, pretty much got the better of me. I was so busy, I often sounded like the White Rabbit in Lewis Carroll's book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: “I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date! No time to say “Hello”, goodbye. I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!” I thought ‘better late than never’ and here we are.

As part of the ‘My Writing Process’ blog tour, writers and authors answer questions to provide information about their writing process. Please check out a fellow author, Karen Avivi, who blogged her writing process here:

To find out what I’m working on, why and how I do what I do, please read on.

What are you working on?

I am a chronic multi-tasker and continually have several items on the go. I continue to work on promoting my first published book, What is Growing Out of Your Ear? This preschool picture book is a whimsical story of a Grandfather’s playful, good-humoured words to his granddaughter, foreshadowing what happens when she swallows a cherry pit.

My most recently finished book is in the process of being published and is likely on the printing press as I post this blog. This book is a middle grade novel called Escape from Killarney. Told by Toby, the family dog, Escape from Killarney is a gripping and treacherous, action-packed adventure of two children and their dog’s struggle for survival in the Canadian backcountry.

I am also gelling ideas and beginning to plot and plan for my next work.

Photo of my writing space

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

What is Growing Out of Your Ear? has an unexpected and exceptionally ludicrous vision of what happens when you swallow a cherry pit. It’s silly and ideal for those who love pushing at the bounds of their imagination.

Escape from Killarney is a middle grade adventure novel that is unique as the story is told by a dog. Writing and getting into the mindset of the dog, Toby, is incredibly fun. I have had the fortune of growing up always having a family dog and writing through Toby’s eyes lets me explain why dogs do the things they do, what they feel and what they think – or at least how I imagine it. Readers who love dogs and animals, in general, will love this spin to the storytelling.

Why do you write what you do?

Over the past decade, I have written numerous books for family members, primarily my children, as birthday and Christmas gifts. My main motivation is to inspire my own children to read, so I write personalized stories that I think they would love. I have one child at each end of the reading spectrum: one is an avid reader and the other I would describe as having a self-proclaimed allergy to reading. I write stories that I hope will lure them in with elements of humour, some drama, an imaginative story line and in some cases, an element of fright.

How does your writing process work?

The professional in me drives everything I do by a deadline. And since I write my books as gifts for birthdays and Christmas, I am driven to very immovable dates.

Here’s how my process works. I start with the deadline and plan backwards. I first decide what kind of book am I writing, i.e. picture book or novel, and then I calculate backwards how long it will take me to illustrate, edit, write, plan the plot and characters, and solidify the idea. This lets me know when I need to start.

I solidify the idea when I walk my dog (I’ve already mentioned that I am a multi-tasker extraordinaire). I ask myself what the recipient of the book is interested in, what would grab their attention, what’s going on in their life. Then I let my imagination wander.

Once I have an idea about the story and characters, I write an outline - a couple sentence description, by chapter, about the characters, scene and what happens. This helps me determine the pacing, plot development, conflict and climax. As I write, this outline guides me, but often I find myself letting the story write itself and I deviate from the plan as I go. It often works its way back to the planned ending or somewhere close to the planned ending.

I edit and illustrate (if I’m illustrating) for as long as I have time remaining before the birthday or Christmas morning. I often wrap the book as the ink is drying on the pages. Only once did I run out of time to complete what I had to and, the day before Christmas, I quickly turned the two books I was working on into two illustrate-your-own-story books. My children thought this was a fantastic idea.

I have published/am publishing two of our favourite books: What is Growing Out of Your Ear? and Escape from Killarney.

If you are interested in sharing your writing process, tag yourself and link to your blog entry, answering the questions above.

Happy writing.

Making It Available

Posted by on May 12, 2014 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I spent many hours over countless days bundling the children up, packing the stroller and meandering over to the public library where we spent hours browsing through piles of books. My children would read, leaf through, laugh at, and when they were very young, try to eat so many of the great stories that the public library had to offer.

The greatest thing about libraries is that you don't have to say 'no' when your child says, "Mommy, can I get this one too?" No negotiating, no temper tantrums, only happy children and happy Mommies. Oh how I love libraries.

We would weigh ourselves down with books of all kinds and read them over and over at bedtime until they were due, and then we would begin the routine all over again.

You can imagine my delight when the Ottawa Public Library told me that they will add 'What is Growing Out of Your Ear?' to their collection. I imagined many other happy parents and children reading my story.

I was ecstatic that the Cambridge Libraries and Galleries also agreed to add the book to their collection. It was at this library that my own parents brought me when I was young.

The Kingston Frontenac Public Library is also adding this to their collection. These libraries will be cataloguing the book and adding it shortly to their shelves. Then, the fun will begin.

I am trying to engage as many public and school libraries as I can to add 'What is Growing Out of Your Ear?' to their collection. This way, everyone will have access to enjoy the story.

If it is not available at your public or school library, please approach them to request a copy. This is the best way to spread the fun.

Old Wives' Tales

Posted by on March 16, 2014 at 8:00 PM

"Hannah, eat your carrots. You'll see better in the dark."

"Jacob, don't pick your nose. Your finger will get stuck up there forever."

"Victoria, don't swallow your gum. It will stay in your stomach for seven years."

"Mandy, eat your oatmeal. It will stick to your ribs and keep you warm."

"Conner, don't cross your eyes. Your face will stick like that."

Does this sound familiar?

I don't know about you, but my childhood was riddled with old wives' tales. My parents and grandparents alike fired off these sayings to veer me in the right direction.

One of my favourites was: "Angela, eat your crusts. It will put hair on your chest." Put hair on my chest?!? Surely, they noticed I was a girl! Funny enough, they never seemed to understand my aversion to eating crusts...

My active imagination conjured up some ludicrous images when I heard these old wives' tales. "What is Growing Out of Your Ear?" shares with you what I thought would really happen if I didn't listen to my Grampsy when he warned me, "Angela, don't swallow the cherry pits. A cherry tree will grow out of your ear."

Let's start at the beginning

Posted by on February 23, 2014 at 9:00 AM

On New Year's Day 2014, while plotting out all my grandiose plans for the year, I jotted down 'Publish a book' amongst the long list of goals. It looked great in my list and my children were over the top ecstatic with the idea.

The next morning, I received a phone call from AuthorHouse, a book publishing company, enquiring if I would be interested in publishing some of my works. Ahhh...serendipity.

And so it began.

I submitted the manuscript for the first book I will bring to market, 'What is Growing Out of Your Ear?'. I wrote this story in 2006 in memory of my Grampsy, who always had a wise word to say about pretty much everything. I wrote this story for my daughter, Evelyn, who reminded me of myself when I was a little girl. This is a whimsical story of a Grandfather’s playful, good-humoured words to his granddaughter, foreshadowing what happens if you swallow a cherry pit.

The artwork is in the final stages before the book goes into production. Following is a sneak peek into the book:

It was summer and I was six years old.

My sister and I were in the backyard, eating cherries. They were so yummy.

When we finished, we brought the bowls into the house to give to my Grandma.

'What is Growing Out of Your Ear?' is expected to launch in the coming months. Stay tuned for updates and more exciting news.