What's On Wednesday: December 17 to 24

December 17, 2014 | Amy | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

What's On Wednesday is our guide to some of the Toronto Public Library programs for teens happening in the next seven days. Here are this week's highlights:

Thursday Deccember 18

  • Christmas Bake Sale & Movie Night @ Brentwood branch, 4-6:30pm. Buy some yummy snacks to support the United Way, enjoy Christmas music and watch "The Grinch". Presented by the Brentwood Youth Advisory Group. Teens, adults and families welcomed!
  • Carbide Tipped Pens @ Lillian H. Smith branch, 7-9pm. Eric Choi is the co-editor of Carbide Tipped Pens, a new anthology of hard science fiction. Eric will talk about the anthology's attempt to show the impact of science and technology on society, and about the editing process. The event will take place in the reading room of the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, on the 3rd floor of the Lillian H. Smith branch.

Friday December 19

  • Teen Talent NightDon Mills branch, 6-8pm. Do you sing, love to dance, do stand-up comedy, recite poetry or play an instrument? Do you have a unique talent? Showcase it at the Teen Talent Night. Or, just come and watch the show!

Saturday December 20

Monday, December 22

Poetry Saved Our Lives

 Ongoing programs

Please note that all library branches will close at 1pm on Wednesday December 24th, and remain closed for December 25th and 26th. We will also be closed on Sunday, December 28th. We will be open regular hours on December 27th, 29th, and 30th. Happy holdiays!


Excellent world building, relatable characters -- DOVE ARISING reviewed

December 16, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Book cover dove arising by Karen BaoDove Arising by Karen Bao

Reviewed by Aisha, Runnymede Youth Advisory Group member 

To start, Karen Bao effortlessly integrated the science portion of sci-fi and created characters who were well developed and complex. When reading the novel, one can really tell Phaet loves the sciences (as do I) and some of us will be able to connect with her quiet nature as well. What was special about Phaet was her poetic way of describing the world around her in the book, which really made you appreciate each word she said. I also really enjoyed seeing her grow and change from delicate to a force to be reckoned with throughout the novel. Her relationship with Umbriel versus her relationship with Wes was very different, which allowed me, as a reader, to see different aspects of Phaet's character. The supporting characters, such as her mother Mira and antagonists such as Jupiter were well crafted too.

As for the setting, it's unlike any other dystopian or sci-fi novel I've read, which made this novel an interesting read. The world that Phaet lives in is meticulous and orderly, however there's something below the surface just waiting to break out (I'll let you find out for yourself!). The world building done by Karen Bao was excellent because it was as if I could visualize all the different aspects of their lunar planet and their day to day lives.

The plot itself was slow at first but then quickly began to pick up speed when Phaet had to make an important decision (read to find out!). What followed afterwards was a chain of events that really drew me in and had me reading until the last word!
In addition I haven't read many recent sci-fi novels where it's set on the moon while the Earth is still habitable, which made for an interesting dynamic. And the use of the Greek alphabet to denote last names and the space-inspired first names were a nice touch as well.

 The Final Verdict

I'm giving Dove Rising a 4/5 because of its excellent world building, relatable characters, and plot development. On top of that, this book can easily be connected to what is happening in our world today in terms of corruption, police brutality and human rights, which are all too real both in the book and outside the book. Overall, this novel was an excellent read and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves sci-fi novels! I can't wait for this book to be released and for the second novel to come out!


* This review is based on an advanced reading copy, so it may be different from the final copy.

Music Video Monday - Blur

December 15, 2014 | Cameron | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Blur was a band that was part of the second British invasion (otherwise known as the britpop movement). They were a rather innovative band who liked to have each album be of a different sound than the previous one. Their first big international hit was the song "Girls and Boys" from the albums Parklife:


Our next video for Blur is the song "Song 2" which you can get from the library on their greatest hits CD.


And our final Blur video is the song "Beetlebum" another song which shows how varied the band could be with their sound:


Teen Review: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

December 13, 2014 | Amy | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

This review was written by Manly, a YAG member at Lillian H. Smith branch.

The wonderful wizard of ozThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz (multiple editions and formats) by L. Frank Baum is an American fairy tale which attracts both young children and adults alike.

Young children would surely adore the many cartoon-like characters such as the lion, the scarecrow, the woodman, the monkey, the birds and the various wizards. Many adults would like to follow the development of the various stages of the plot. It is always difficult to guess what would happen next. One would find the story to be very entertaining and interesting because many of the incidents result in happy ending.

Apart from entertainment, the story manages to produce many lessons to learn. For example, the three comrades of the protagonist girl, Dorothy: the lion, the scarecrow and the woodman, all have their own defects. The lion is a coward, the scarecrow has no brain and the woodman has no heart. But throughout their journey in Oz they become good friends with Dorothy and have close cooperation with each other. This shows that friendship is important to many people particularly in overcoming the many difficulties encountered.

The second lesson learned is that one must pay first before gaining. Dorothy promises the Oz to deal The wizard of oz moviewith the Witch of the West before the Oz can help her. This presents the concept of “no pain, no gain”.

The third lesson learnt is that confidence is salient to achievement. The Oz gives a brain to the scarecrow who then becomes clever, a heart to the woodman who then feels that he can have love, a magic solution to the lion who then becomes courageous. They all feel that they have accomplished what they want. Actually it is only confidence that takes effect.

Above all, the main theme of the story focuses on Dorothy’s wish to come home throughout her journey. She feels very happy when she is able to realize her dream at the end. This illustrates the fact that there is no better place than home.

Already read the book? There are several different movie adaptations to watch! 

Five Frames From . . . December 12th edition

December 12, 2014 | Cameron | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

What movie are these images from?






What's on Wednesday: December 10 to 17

December 10, 2014 | Amy | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

What's On Wednesday is our guide to some of the Toronto Public Library programs for teens happening in the next seven days. Here are this week's highlights:

Laurie SadowskiWednesday Deccember 10

        • The Allergy-Free Cook: Laurie Sadowski @ Brentwood branch, 6:30-8pm. In this presentation, cookbook author Laurie Sadowski will describe all of the details surrounding the different gluten-free flours, success substitutions without dairy, eggs,and soy, adapting and customizing favourite recipes, creating baked goods that taste just like the real thing, and sticking to healthful ingredients. 


Thursday Deccember 11

Saturday December 13

Monday December 15 Maker Programs

Tuesday December 16

  • DJ for beginners @ Fort York branch, 6:15-7:45pm. Learn to create your own unique mixes like a professional with an introduction to basic music theory, beat matching, phrase matching, and more. Requires online registration.
  • Taylor Memorial Christmas Open House @ Taylor Memorial branch, 6:30-7:30pm. Come and share your Christmas spirit at Taylor Memorial Library. Enjoy a free group performance by the Beaches Suzuki Music School. Director of the School Ines Pagliari will be conducting Christmas favourites. Sing Holiday favourites and take part in our Ugly Christmas sweater competition.

Wednesday December 17

 Ongoing programs Poetry Saved Our Lives

Your Bookmark Here: My True Love Gave to Me

December 9, 2014 | Margaret | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

MyTrueLoveGavetoMeI always try to read at least a few Holiday-ish books to get in the proper mood for all the festivities around this time of year.  If you are looking for something to put you in a Holiday frame of mind, the story collection, My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve holiday Stories, edited by Stephanie Perkins will not disappoint.  12 well known YA authors share stories of love lost and found around the holidays.  My particular favourites were Rainbow Rowell's "Midnights", about very pivotal past New Year's Eves in the lives of two best friends; the strange, weird and wonderful "Krampuslauf" by Holly Black and the bittersweet "Polaris is Where You'll Find Me" by Jenny Hann.  However, there is someting for everyone in this collection, which also includes works by Matt de la Pena, Stephanie Perkins, David Levithan, Gayle Forman and Ally Carter. 

Directions: 1. Curl up on sofa with a big cup of steaming hot chocolate (peppermint if you prefer, and don't skimp on the marsmallows and or whipped cream). 2. Open book.  3. Read.  4. Enjoy!!!

 Also available as an eBook and eAudiobook

Farewell From Your 2014 Young Voices E-Writer in Residence!

December 8, 2014 | E Writer in Residence - Emily Pohl-Weary | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Emily cropped
Authentic action shot of the E-Writer in Residence in her "office," complete with pajamas, bedhead, no makeup, tunes, and a dazed expression.


I've had an amazing couple of months as the Toronto Public Library's Young Voices E-Writer in Residence.

The residency launched with a public event celebrating this year's Young Voices Magazine, followed by the day-long adventure that is the Young Voices Conference. Since then, I've also done some local branch visits. We're finishing up this weekend with a farewell party and teen writer sharing circle.

In the past eight weeks, I wrote or coordinated 44 blog posts (phew!), which are listed below (links! read! and comment! because I'm still checking the email and site for a couple more days!).

The archive includes many things:

  • videos of Toronto teens talking about writing,
  • interviews with fantastic young adult authors (several of which were conducted by teens),
  • my pearls of wisdom channeled into six writing tips,
  • posts about aspects of writing and publishing by teens,
  • some of my fave writing exercises,
  • and more...

Behind the scenes, I corresponded with 34 young writers who sent me more than 40 unique manuscripts. I got to read some fantastic poems, essays, short stories, novel excerpts, and even listen to a song. Hopefully my comments and suggestions will be helpful as people move forward.

I'd say it's been a successful eight weeks! Thanks to all the Young Voices peeps behind the scenes who made my residency so lovely. And thanks again for having me. I wish you all so, so, so much success with your writing.

Emily P-W


Emily's Writing Tips:

-#1: Don't Give Up

-#2: Make Friends With Writers

-#3: Reread to Analyze

-#4: Make Editing a Game

-#5: Set Goals (and Stick to Them)

-#6: On Getting Published


Author/Creator Interviews:

-Journalist Carlyn Zwarenstein

-Creative Director/Artist Terry Tau

-Spacing Magazine's Matthew Blackett

-Graphic Novelist Willow Dawson by Maria Yang

-Filmmaker and Novelist Jim Munroe

-Young Adult Author Paul Yee by Maria Yang

-Young Adult Author Teresa Toten by Terese Mason Pierre 

-Author Hiromi Goto by Atara Shields

-Young Adult Author Carrie Mac by Anupya Pamidimukkala 

-Young Adult Author/Graphic Novelist Mariko Tamaki

-Ken Sparling: The Writer Behind the (Young Voices) Machine


Guest Posts by Teen Writers:

-A Self-Publishing 101 Crash Course by Benjamin Gabbay

-My Young Voices Journey by Amy Schacherl

-Tips for Moving Beyond Binary Genders by Amy Schacherl

-Examining "Binary," A 2014 Young Voices Magazine Story by Amy Schacherl


Teens Talk Video Series:

-Relating to Characters

-Books to Be Avoided at All Costs

-Their Favourite Authors

-To Publish Or Not to Publish?

-What Would You Tell a Friend Who Wants to Write?

-The Best Writing Advice 

-Why Does the World Need People Who Write?


Writing Exercises:

-Fifteen Minutes with Lynda Barry

-Three-Panel Comic Set on Public Transit

-Poem For a Poem

-Very Short Poems About Your Life

-Write a Monster Into Your Neighbourhood

-Write a List Poem 


Miscellaneous Posts By Emily That You Might Want to Read:

-What It's Like to Get Feedback From the E-Writer in Res

-My Initial Greeting As Newly Instated Alien Overlord/E-WIR 

-My Life at the Library (Thus Far)

Music Video Monday - Paloma Faith

December 8, 2014 | Cameron | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Do you want the truth, or something beautiful? Has always been in my opinion one of the best song lyrics ever. Paloma Faith is one of those artists who seemed to come out of nowhere and be a fully fledged and competent "Diva". She is 3 albums into her career and going strong. "Fall To Grace" and "A Perfect Contradiction" are pure musical bliss and her voice and range are remarkable. She recently had a number one single with the song "Changing" a collaboration with the band Sigma.


One of her earlier successes was the beautiful and poignant break-up song "Picking up the pieces"


And her final video for this post is the upbeat "Can't Rely On You" which is a colloboration with Pharrell.




Guest Post: A Self-Publishing 101 Crash Course

December 6, 2014 | E Writer in Residence - Emily Pohl-Weary | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

WLR_677x1000Have a book you want to get out there? Young writer (and Young Voices veteran) Benjamin Gabbay has been kind enough to write up a guide to the inner workings of self publishing.

Benjamin is the author of the fantasy novel Wingheart: Luminous Rock and soon-to-be-published sequel. He was a workshop presenter at the 2013 Young Voices Conference and is a member of the TPL’s Editorial Youth Advisory Group. In addition, Benjamin is a passionate classical pianist and composer, as well as a digital designer.  www.benjamingabbay.com

Read on to find out all you need to know...


So you’ve written a book. You’ve wrestled all the words, the plot, the prose, the poetry into shape and made something worthy of mounting on the shelf alongside the likes of Tolkien and Tolstoy. But books aren’t just to be mounted; they are to be read! Surely there must be some way to bring your masterpiece to the masses.

That’s where a publisher comes in—someone to wrap your words up in hardcover (or paperback), fire off a couple-myriad-or-so copies through the printing press, and parade them around the world’s bookstores for all to find and enjoy. But as long as literary agents and publishers are daily deluged by reams of manuscript submissions, the odds of getting your work noticed by the right people can seem slim. You may have heard of the flood of rejection letters J.K. Rowling faced before finally landing a publisher; Agatha Christie and C.S. Lewis both endured years of rejections. Some of the greatest literary works may still lie festering in a drawer if their authors are not as persistent as these now-illustrious writers were.

Thankfully, there is an alternative.

Self-publishing is not a new concept; Beatrix Potter did it with The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1901. While not a simple effort by any means, self-publishing allows a writer to bring their work to the world exactly as they see fit, avoiding the endless agent-publisher-rejection struggle altogether. Advances in printing technology over the past decade, particularly with digital print-on-demand services, have also made the process more affordable than ever.

So, how does one go about self-publishing?

1. Editing

In traditional publishing, typically, a professional editor from the publishing house will work with the author to ensure that their manuscript is brought to tip-top condition in every area from grammar and spelling to writing style and plot. For a self-publisher, likewise, the editing process should never be overlooked or underestimated. Even if you have the most magnificent story to tell, it must be told skillfully in order to shine.

If you can’t afford to hire a professional editor, the next best thing is any well-read friend or mentor with a deft grasp of the English language (or French, or Spanish, or Klingon...whatever language it is you write in). Also be sure to share your work with the sort of people you’re writing for—your target audience—and listen to what they might have to say about what’s awesome or not-so-awesome about it. If you’re not sure where to find those people, online writing communities such as Wattpad are a great place to start.

It may also benefit you to check out the Canadian Writer’s Handbook for some of the more nitty-gritty dos and don’ts of writing. The TPL has loads of copies in circulation.

DSC_0050_crop22. E-books

Yes, I know, you don’t care so much about having your work on digital paper; you want the real thing! We’ll get to that. But seeing how massively e-book sales are beginning to outnumber hardcopy sales, diving into the e-book market is a must for any aspiring author.

There are two major formats of e-books: one is Kindle (extension .mobi), created to work exclusively on Amazon’s Kindle e-readers. The other is E-pub (extension .epub), which works on just about every other e-reader and mobile device. A quick Google search will yield loads of free software and services for automatically converting your work into either format, although many of these can produce lopsided layouts, jumbled words, and altogether messy results. If you know a thing or two about HTML (or aren’t afraid to learn), an equally quick Google search can provide you with many great how-to guides on manually converting plain text into e-books—more tedious, but less risky than letting an automatic software do it for you.

Once your e-book is done, head on over to Kindle Direct Publishing to publish your Kindle book to the Amazon store, and to any of the dozens of other e-book markets to publish your e-pub book! (Please note that, if you’re under the age of 18, you may need assistance from a parent or guardian to register with Kindle Direct or other e-book publishing services.)

3. Cover design

Though many of us have been taught all our lives to not “judge a book by its cover,” it’s inevitable that we do. If the cover of a book looks too dull, unpolished, or too much like something we’ve seen a million times before, we tend to overlook it or approach it with a negative pretense. No matter what format you publish your book in, make sure it has a cover that people will judge favourably.

If you have a particularly artistic friend who might be willing to try their hand at decorating your soon-to-be-bestseller, all the better. If not, you’ve still got plenty of options. You can use sites like the Creative Commons search engine to find photos and digital art in the public domain—that is, free material with limited or no copyright that you can use for the design of your cover without fear of plagiarism. For some artsy typography to go with it, check out www.dafont.com.

Don’t be afraid to go with a simple cover design; done right, it can appear a lot more striking than something too busy or embellished.

4. Text design

In a not-too-distant era, this was known as typesetting—quite literally, the setting of individual letters on a printing plate that would have been used in the printing of a book. In the age of MS Word and digital printers, this process is reborn as the digital laying-out of text on a page. This is where you set fonts, margins, paragraph styles, chapter headers, and just about every other way that your words are displayed.

Professional publishers generally use top-notch software such as Adobe InDesign for text design, but a lot can be done in a simple word processor like MS Word. Search the Web for guides on how to lay out your text and prepare it for printing; study traditionally published books for their text design and imitate any traits that you like. Font size, line spacing, paragraph indents—no detail is too small. However you design your text, just be sure that it follows any guidelines set by your chosen publishing service (see below).

There are just a few aspects of text design that you generally can’t mess around with. Many of these have to do with the various sections of a book and the order in which they are arranged (e.g., the copyright information page, the dedication, the table of contents...). All relevant information on this subject can be found in style guides, such as The Chicago Manual of Style.

5. Printing and distribution

Yes, this is the exciting bit. Your very own book, edited and designed to perfection, is finally ready take on print form. Just a few years ago, this would have meant paying a fortune to a printing service to run off an inordinate number of copies of your book (small print runs would end up being unprofitable), then finding a warehouse to store the lot, and a distributor willing to peddle it around to booksellers. This all changed with the dawn of the print-on-demand publishing service, exemplified best by Amazon CreateSpace.

CreateSpace works like this: once you create an account and upload your book file to the site, your book becomes available for purchase on the Amazon.com store (and other Amazon stores around the world, including amazon.ca). When someone orders a copy or three, that exact number of copies is printed and shipped to the customer straight away. No need for massive print runs and no need for storage. Because the book is produced on demand, it never runs out of stock.

If you’re interested in going a step further and don’t mind a small set-up fee, IngramSpark offers a print-on-demand service similar to CreateSpace, with the added bonus of having your publication included in the worldwide Ingram distribution catalogue. This makes your book available for order from major bookstores like Chapters-Indigo and brings you one step closer to seeing your work on store shelves.

Outside of print-on-demand services, small local print runs are also an option. Many print shops nowadays offer professional-quality book printing services; even the TPL does! Asquith Press at the Toronto Reference Library is the perfect resource for producing small quantities of paperback books at reasonable prices. They even offer free classes on preparing your book for print.

You may also want to check out Library and Archives Canada for some important information on ISBN numbers, although if you publish through CreateSpace, they can assign an ISBN for you.

I should note that both CreateSpace and IngramSpark’s services are constantly evolving and may cause the information here to quickly fall out date! When you’re ready to publish, still make sure to do your research in finding the best service for your needs.

6. Marketing

Some writers are born marketers; many are not. Inevitably, for a self-publisher, marketing can play an enormous role in the success of their book. Even if you’ve made your work available through an e-book store or a print-on-demand service, it still needs to be seen to be read!

As you might expect, some of the best marketing nowadays is done online. Create a Facebook page for yourself; post updates on your Twitter feed; start a Tumblr blog and share your writing. The aforementioned Wattpad is also an excellent place to showcase your work and build a fan base.

Marketing beyond the world of cyberspace can be just as effective. Throw a book launch party; bring some copies of your printed book to local bookshops and ask if they’d be interested in carrying it on consignment; share your writing at open mics, literary fairs, and anywhere else that could get your work noticed and appreciated. 

So there you have it. In an age where young writers are flourishing more than ever before (thanks in part to TPL services like the E-Writer in Residence program), it’s encouraging to know that we have options other than the bustle of traditional publishing for bringing our work to the world.

“I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.”
~ Toni Morrison

E-Writer in Residence My Curved Border

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