Dear Toni

It was a brief interaction with a young girl one summer that seeded the beginnings of "Mel Tulley's" character. In the weeks that followed  I wrote this poem. During the writing of A Tinfoil Sky I would occasionally revisit this poem, and by doing this I would find that I was able to rekindle the emotion that I felt that day. Both the name of the girl and the street are fictional. Composing a poem response to a novel is one of the suggestions in my novel study for A Tinfoil Sky. I'd love to read the poems you come up with!

Inspiration poem for the character of Mel Tulley


It's amazing to me that almost five years after Dear Toni, was published that I am still hearing from kids who are enjoying the story. I love that Gene, Toni, Winn, and The Fly all continue to live on through the reading and imaginations of people from all over the world. Wow! And now with A Tinfoil Sky published, I know that some of you are getting to know Mel. She is definitely someone worth knowing! At least that is how I feel. She inspires me!

This is one of the most fantastic aspects of being an author.  Why, you ask. Well, for most of the time you are writing you are alone with these characters; their personalities and their experiences are slowly taking form. Then, all of a sudden, they  take on a life of their own and  the next thing you know they are telling you the story, and before you know it the story is finished. The characters (which  feel like real people) are soon to be in the hands of readers, both discovering and being discovered. 

 "A story and its characters are nothing more than simple keystrokes inked to a page. It is the reader who breathes life into the characters, allowing them to truly live." A quote from A Tinfoil Sky acknowledgements

Of course this is not only the case for my books, it's for all stories, all characters. I just love the idea of characters from a book all resting on the page.  I can imagine their growing anticipation when the book is lifted from the shelf, perused, and then clutched in the arms of the potential reader.  

Perhaps the next time you are in a library, or investigating a shelf of books in a bookstore, think about those characters. Think about the idea of bringing them to life. Think about  getting to know them and traveling somewhere, maybe even to a different time and place. And then think about going there, all of you, together.

Wishing you a wonderful year of reading–and writing!


To everyone who has encouraged me in this writing endeavor, thank you. This encouragement has taken many forms and been delivered by many different people. You are students in schools I have visited,  students who attended Wordfest, and you are the students in the classes where I work. You are people who have read, questioned, and at times challenged me in my work. You are reviewers who have taken the time to read and thoughtfully respond. You are book sellers and you are book buyers. You are teachers, librarians, friends, and the crew at Mint Literary Agency. You are the people I see on a bustling December as I walk downtown, and you are my family. You are the people who inspire my life and my work; people who face hardship and unfairness with hope, courage, and kindness.                  

Thank you, each of you!

May your lives be filled with joy, 


Some where along the way someone, or something, or some situation catches my attention. It's in moments like these that all my stories begin.  Rarely do I know where these stories will end. What I have found fascinating is how an aspect of the story, that seems significant to me, might go unnoticed by the reader. This has definitely happened in A Tinfoil Sky. On one hand it might be seen as a failure on my part and on the other hand a success. 

So, here is the challenge.  If you are one of those people who have read, or are presently reading A Tinfoil Sky, I challenge you to read this story looking for more than the fact that Mel is, at times, homeless or that she is poor. There is something else that is very subtle that happens, or could be believed by some to have happened, in the story. See if you can figure it out. If you think you have solved this mystery, email me and tell me what you think it is that others are missing. I'll collect all the correct answers and draw for a signed copy of A Tinfoil Sky on February 14th, 2013.

Why February 14th?   I'll write about that next time, in the meantime get reading!

I am often asked  where I get my ideas from, or where I get my inspiration, or how I came up with a character or the plot in the story.

Last night I had the pleasure of having dinner with two octogenarians. They had recently traveled to Nelson from Toronto to visit their daughter, one of my dearest friends. I couldn't help but notice how both of them were so full of life. Here they were, their third day in Nelson, after flying more than halfway across the country to Kelowna where they rented a car, drove over at least one mountain pass, walked to and from their hotel to her house numerous times, attended a film premier, watched at least one soccer practice, and it was 10 pm and they were still completely engaged in our lengthy dinner party conversation, with enough energy to make plans for the next day's adventures. Ah, to be eighty plus years old and so  alive! That has always been a dream of mine. As my own energy dwindled I just couldn't stop myself from asking: What was their secret? Their answer was really quite simple. They have remained curious.  

Same goes for writing and I suppose the same goes for life!


Hello to all of the Silver Birch readers in Ontario! I wonder how many of you know that you have one of the most amazing Reader's Choice programs in Canada, and perhaps the world. It's really quite mind boggling that over 250 000 students participate in the Forest of Reading Program each year! Whew! 

But no matter where you are from I'd love to hear from any of you who are reading  A Tinfoil Sky, ( or Dear Toni for that matter) and answer any questions you might have. I also have a novel study available that I am happy to send out for teachers or students. If any of you would like to share poems, responses to the novel study questions, or activities you or your class become involved in as a result of reading A Tinfoil Sky, I'll see what I can do to get a tab up, very soon hopefully,  for a Reader's Page.  

Thank you to all the volunteers, organizers, and staff at the Wordfest 2012 and Summit Salon offices. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Calgary and Banff. A thank you, as well, to the teachers who brought me to their schools at St. Sebastian, St. Catherine,  and St. Rita Elementary Schools.  In addition the audience members at the Vertigo Theatre, who came from numerous schools, were fabulous.  I am especially grateful to First Calgary Financial Book Rapport for supporting these readings. And lastly, thanks to ALL of you for your well thought through questions and your willingness to participate in the events. I hope that I was able to inspire each of you in your enjoyment of reading and writing as much as you inspired me! 

The countdown has begun for my participation in Wordfest 2012 in Calgary. The festival begins October 9th and continues throughout the week. So if you are in the neighbourhood be sure to check out the events!

You can see all the events at:





Great News!

Dear Toni has WON the 2010 Silver Birch Express Award! See the video below to join in the excitement.

Dear Toni has also been nominated for a 2010/2011 Red Cedar Award in BC.