This is actually a picture of Marsha Skrypuch's 2011 Crystal Kite award for her fabulous book Stolen Child--but I hope to have my own pic soon!

My Busy Fall

I’ve just updated the “Upcoming Events” section of my website and–whew!–I’ve got a lot coming up this fall!  The big highlight for me will be

This is actually a picture of Marsha Skrypuch's 2011 Crystal Kite award for her fabulous book Stolen Child--but I hope to have my own pic soon!

accepting the 2012 Crystal Kite Award for the Americas region for Witchlanders.  That will happen at the Ottawa SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference where I’ll be giving a short presentation about how we writers can navigate the fine line between following the market and following our passion.

The thing I’m most nervous about is the Packaging Your Imagination conference that CANSCAIP (The Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers) is putting on in Toronto. There I will be giving an 80-minute presentation on Writing Fantasy, where I’ll go over both general writing techniques–plotting, creating characters, etc.–and ones more specific to writing fantasy like world building.

(And did I mention that the first draft of my next novel, The Worlds Below, is due in January? Again: whew!)

Neither of these events is sold out yet, so click on the links below if you are an author or illustrator interested in the children’s and YA market.

In addition to these events, I can usually be found at the monthly #TorKidLit meetings on the first Wednesday of every month and at the monthly CANSCAIP meetings on the second Wednesday of every month.

Here’s my fall schedule so far:

Muskoka Novel Marathon Wrap Up and Workshop

Saturday, September 22, 2012
TBA, Huntsville, Ontario

The wrap up itself is from 1-2:30, then the workshop will be from 3-4.

I’ll be speaking with Sharon Ledwith about what to do with our Novel Marathon manuscripts now that we’ve written them.  Sharon will be focusing on the self-publishing and e-book options, while I’ll talk about my experiences with traditional publishing, especially how I got my agent, Steven Malk of Writers House, and my experiences with Simon & Schuster.

Because the venue has not been set yet, we’re not sure if this event will be open to the public or will only be open to Novel Marathon participants, but I’ll post that info as soon as I know.

SCBWI Fall Retreat in Ottawa

October 19-21, 2012
The Albert at Bay Suite Hotel
Ottawa, Ontario

I’m very delighted to be doing my first SCBWI presentation:

Write the Book That Will Change Your Life
How can we be true to our creative selves in this market-driven business and still succeed?  Author Lena Coakley will tell us how she walked the fine line between following the market and following her passion when writing this year’s SCBWI Crystal Kite Award winner for our region, Witchlanders.

And!!! I’ll be accepting my Crystal Kite Award at the conference.

World Fantasy Convention

November 1-4, 2012
Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel, Suites & Conference Centre
Toronto, Ontario

Not sure if I’ll be on a panel yet, but I’ll certainly be there and signing books for anyone who’d like to get a signed copy of Witchlanders.

Packaging Your Imagination

Saturday, November 10, 2012
Victoria College
Toronto, Ontario

I’ll be doing an intensive, 80-minute workshop at PYI.  This conference generally sells out, so register now—and if you’re not tempted by my talk, sign up for the master class with Tim Wynne-Jones, which promises to be awesome!

Believing in Magic: Writing Fantasy Novels and Short Stories
Lena will examine the craft of fantasy writing, from general writing and plotting techniques to creating believable characters and compelling alternate worlds. Participants should expect to do a few writing exercises.

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Hear my first audio interview!

Many of you know that there are some video interviews of me out there, and God knows I have done enough blog interviews about Witchlanders to choke the internet, but I had never actually done a radio or audio interview until I was asked by the folks at CNIB, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, to do an interview to promote the books in their collection, Witchlanders being one of them.

The interview, plus a short audio excerpt of Witchlanders will air a few times over the next few weeks.  The first time you can hear it is tomorrow (Saturday) at noon (full schedule below). It airs on the AMI (Accessable Media Inc.) website. Just go to the site and click ”listen now.” Sadly I won’t be able to hear myself! But it airs again on Monday at 2. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 28, at 12 PM

Monday, July 30, at 2 PM

Friday, August 3, at 11:30 AM

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Deal News!

Ahhhh!  I have been sitting on this news forever, but my agent tells me that the deal for my forthcoming book has been announced in Publishers Marketplace.   I am so thrilled, delighted, nervous–and many other adjectives!–to be working with legendary editor Susan van Metre at Abrams and also with my former colleague at the CCBC and longtime friend, Hadley Dyer of HarperCollins Canada.

Here it is! (Note: You won’t be able to follow the links in the announcement unless you have a PW subscription)

Crystal Kite Award-winner Lena Coakley’s THE WORLDS BELOW, an historical fantasy novel about the Bronte siblings and the worlds they created in their juvenile writings, worlds that come to life and prove even more glorious and treacherous than their prodigious imaginings, to Susan van Metre at Abrams, and to Hadley Dyer at Harper Canada, for publication in Spring 2014, by Steven Malk at Writers House (World English).

So happy!

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Witchlanders 3D

Witchlanders– A CRYSTAL KITE WINNER!!!

Holy moly!  I’m completely speechless this morning to have learned on Twitter (before it even showed up on the SCBWI website!) that WITCHLANDERS has won the Crystal Kite Award for my region. (It’s up there now so–yes!–it’s official!)

From the SCBWI website:

The Crystal Kite Awards are given by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators each year to recognize great books from 15 regional SCBWI divisions around the world.  Along with the SCBWI Golden Kite Awards, the Crystal Kite Awards are chosen by other children’s book writers and illustrators, making them the only peer-given awards in publishing for young readers. 

The fact that this is an award chosen by other children’s book authors makes it especially meaningful to me.

Congratulations to everyone who won!

Africa: Finding Aunt Joan, Jenny Hatton and Joan Rankin: Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd.

Australia: The Last Viking, Norman Jorgensen: Fremantle Press

California/Hawaii: Won Ton – A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, Lee Wardlaw, Eugene Yelchin:  Henry Holt Books for Young Readers

Florida/GA: Cleopatra’s Moon, Vicky Alvear Shecter: Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic Press)

Kansas/LA: Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys: Philomel Books (Penguin Young Readers Group)

Middle East/Asia: Orchards, Holly Thompson: Delacorte Dell (Random House)

Minnesota/Iowa: Bluefish, Pat Schmatz: Candlewick Press

Nevada: Black & White: The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor, Larry Brimner: Boyds Mills Press

New England: Pearl, Jo Knowles: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers

New York: Thelonious Mouse,  Orel Protopopescu: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc.

PA/DE/NJ: The Absolute Value of Mike, Kathryn Erskine: Philomel Books (Penguin Young Readers Group)

Texas/OK: MINE! Patrice Barton: Random House Children’s Books

Americas: Witchlanders, Lena Coakley: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster)

UK/Europe: Dark Parties, Sara Grant: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group USA)

Washington: The Friendship Doll, Kirby Larson: Delacorte Dell (Random House)

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Newsy Bits – Crystal Kite Nomination!

Still in a tizzy over being on sub, but I hope to have some news about that soon!  As a result my blogging has ground to a halt, but I do have a few bits of news to pass on!

First of all, WITCHLANDERS has been nominated for a Crystal Kite Award!

I can finally spill about this because the voting is over.  It’s a wonderful honour since the Crystal Kite is an award that’s voted on by other authors, and this recognition from my peers is especially meaningful to me.  Winners will be announced on April 30th so keep your fingers crossed!

Also, I’ve made some additions to my upcoming events including the exciting news that I will be speaking at CANSCAIP’s Packaging Your Imagination conference in November.  My topic will be on Writing High Fantasy and Urban Fantasy.

Ad Astra 2012

Toronto, Ontario, April 13-15, 2012.

SCBWI Niagara

Niagara, Ontario, June 8-10, 2012

Muskoka Novel Marathon

Huntsville, Ontario, July 13-16, 2012

World Fantasy Convention

Toronto, Ontario, November 1-4, 2012.

Packaging Your Imagination

Toronto, Ontario, November 10, 2012.

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On Sub! and Other News

I’m just getting back to work and writing after being sick.  I feel like Rip Van Winkle–I went to bed when it was still winter, and when I woke up, it was spring!  To be honest, I’m finding it a little difficult to get back to the writing today.  There are renovations in the apartment upstairs, I’ve forgotten what my novel is about, and also, I’m on sub.  What??

That’s right: I’m on submission! With only 75 pages and an outline, my agent and I have decided to throw my little rough draft to the sharks and see who snaps it up. Crazy?

Yes!  What the heck were we thinking??

Perhaps this is all I need to tell you about not being able to concentrate on my novel.  Any writer would say: Of course you can’t concentrate! It’s a miracle you can put on your pants! You’re on sub!

And any non-writer would say: What the heck does ‘on sub’ mean?  Also, your pants are on backwards.

Basically it means that a number of carefully chosen editors are reading my pages right now and deciding whether or not they want to publish them.  Or rather, the editors are not reading them because they are in lovely Bologna, while I google them and chew pen lids like gum.

But enough about me.  In other news: I got a grant!

No matter what the editors I’m subbing to say, The Canada Council has decided that my work in progress is worth supporting, which, honestly, feels really good.  I didn’t get the Toronto Arts Council or the Ontario Arts Council grants I had applied for, so I wasn’t holding out much hope for this one.  Coincidentally, I met one of the TAC jury members who rejected my manuscript just days before I got the news and she was quite hilarious about how subjective the process is. I think she was just being nice, but still, her imitation of trying to come to an agreement about what makes a good submission with the experimental poet who didn’t believe in plot was like a one-woman show.

In other, other news, I’m author of the month over on Pub(lishing) Crawl! I’m a little late posting about this and unfortunately the give-away is already over, but you can still have a look at the interview, where I spill the news about the book I’m subbing at the moment.

Finally, in honour of my new-found, Canada Council wealth, I signed up for SCBWI Niagara! It sounds like a great conference and (for now) they’re still not sold out, so if you are in the Ontario area, have a look!


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Baaaaaad Blogger: Do I Have Social Media Fatigue? Or Am I Just Lazy?

Wow.  It has been exactly one month since I last posted.  I don’t think I’ve ever let that much time elapse since I began this blog way back in February 2011.  Oh, what interesting things I had to say back then.  I blogged about worldbuilding, “Developing Desire,” and how I gave up true love with the mailman.  I took my readers on the roller coaster of publishing my first novel.  For quite a while I was habitual about blogging at least once a week. What happened?


Yes, I did have some illnesses and some house guests this past month.  (My fifteen-year-old nephew is staying with me this week and he’s eating all my ice cream!) But things have been crazy before and I’ve always managed to get a blog post out there.

Did I run out of things to say?  That can’t be it because I didn’t have much to say when I started this and I still managed to dream up a post every week.

Did I become disillusioned by the publishing business?  Quite honestly: no.  Sure it’s scary and it’s always changing and I’ll never make a living, but, for the most part, I’m very proud of Witchlanders and very happy with my experience at Simon & Schuster.

I think I am just getting burned out on social networking in all its forms.  I was devoted to the Verla Kay message boards when I first started writing, and now I haven’t dropped by in months.  Suddenly Facebook, which I used to love, has become a place where people post pictures of dorky handwritten aphorisms that get re-shared a hundred times and clog up my feed.  As for Twitter, I never could get the hang of it.  When people don’t RT me I feel like I’m back in the high school lunch room with my bra strap showing.

Me & Plantasia having a quiet night in.

The thing is, I am an introvert.  I get almost all the social contact I require from my plant.  And when I need a little more than what an eyelash begonia can offer, I prefer to see my friends in the flesh.  In the past, I have truly enjoyed the contacts, discussions, and energy I’ve found online, but now I’m feeling overwhelmed.

I’m not sure what to do about this.  I know I need to scale back on social media, but writers are told all the time that these forms of networking are an important part of the business of selling books.

I’d love to hear about how other writers are dealing with this.  As for me, these are the steps I am going (or am not going) to take:

  •  I will blog next week.  And see how I feel about it.  Perhaps when I get back into the habit I will get back what I loved about it.
  •  I will not find out what Pinterest is.  I know it’s a new social media thing that everyone is trying out, but, “la, la, la, la,” *fingers in ears* I will not be looking into it.
  •  I will stop by the Verla Kay boards because that was something I really did enjoy.
  •  I will think about quitting Facebook and/or Twitter and I’ll let my friends tell me—in the flesh!—how I’m committing social networking suicide.



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Young Adult Fantasy Author