Welcome

Welcome! You’ve found me at home, but I’m probably at my desk writing right now, so please feel free to take a look around and explore my books, blog and writing journey.  Thanks for dropping in! LATEST NEWS is below.

*THE HOLIDAY SEASON IS COMING, SO BUY A BOOK*

Yes, the holidays are coming, whether we’re in the mood or not (thank you COVID-19). Your holidays may look very much like mine – which means more of the same: staying home, following all the rules for distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing, trying to keep in touch with family and friends six feet away or online, and doing my part to send this pandemic packing.

I hope you’re doing your part, too.

But there’s one more thing you could do – on top of the distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing, I mean – and that’s to consider giving gifts of books this year.

A book is a perfect gift because it gives in two ways: the recipient gets something that can be enjoyed over and over, shared, passed on, treasured – or donated to a Used-Book sale (which raises money for a good cause, so win-win).

AND, it’s a gift that benefits the creator who wrote those words (a better description of writing might be…slogged, cried, laboured, doubted and, perhaps, celebrated). We authors only benefit when someone reads our book, buys it, takes it out of a library, recommends it, reviews it.

It doesn’t have to be a Bestseller List book. It doesn’t have to be an “I should read this” book. Find a book that fits you or the person you’re giving it to. Need help? Ask a librarian, a bookseller, your social media feed. (And, hey, I’m at @jeanmillswriter on Twitter and Instagram, if you’re interested).

And since this is my website, I get to plug my books: Young Adult fiction for teens who need something that won’t slap them in the face with issues and darkness. SKATING OVER THIN ICE is the story of Imogen St. Pierre, a musical prodigy facing an uncertain future. There’s a kind father and grandfather, concert halls, a Swedish diplomat’s son, a disgraced but empathetic hockey player, and a (pretty romantic, if I do say so myself) scene of skating on a pond after dark. LARKIN ON THE SHORE is the story of Larkin Day, who has to deal with a past trauma and family disruption while spending the summer with her grandmother in Nova Scotia. There are books, and a mean girl, and a rug-hooking artist, and a kind boy who takes her kayaking with the seals, and, ultimately, healing.

Whether it’s my books or someone else’s (and Canadian readers, I urge you to buy Canadian) doesn’t matter. Books are a ticket to solitude (and distancing, get it?)

Buy a book for Christmas. Buy more than one. Buy them as gifts, or for yourself.

You’ll be making this 2020 pandemic holiday season better for everyone.

(Links above are to my publisher’s site for purchasing my books, but consider ordering from your local independent bookstore, as well.)

*NEWS ABOUT MY ONLINE DEBUT*

When the COVID-19 shutdown hit us last March, many of my Canadian kidlit writing colleagues said good-bye to connecting with readers in person and jumped online to keep up those readings, book launches, school visits, videos – they were everywhere!

Not me. This is mostly because no one asked me (truth). It’s also partly because the online scene was quickly full of excellent content from authors much more qualified, well-known and capable than I am.

Then Toronto Public Library came calling, and here I am, going online! And it’s the best kind of presentation – a bit of reading from my books SKATING OVER THIN ICE and LARKIN ON THE SHORE, and tying that into some writing tips on the subject of “first chapters”: how to get your story started by setting the tone, establishing your narrator’s voice, and hooking the reader into the story right from the start.

So, I’m going online – finally. (Yes, it only took me six months…) Thanks for the invitation, Toronto Public Library. I hope to connect with lots of young readers and writers on Monday, October 19, 4-5 p.m. (ET) at my online session: First Chapters with Jean Mills – YA Author Talk.

Click here for more information: First Chapters with Jean Mills

*NEWS FROM THE SHORE*

I’m writing this from my home on the shore of the Northumberland Strait in Nova Scotia. This is my husband’s family’s land, and it’s where we spend part of the year – the warm and sunny part of the year! – together with cousins, visiting children, friends… oh, wait. Actually, we’re alone this year, with no visitors expected. In fact, I’m writing this on Quarantine Day 4.

But it’s okay. We are all safe. I’ve finished another YA novel, which has been tentatively accepted for publication in 2021 (who knows what will happen between now and then…). I’m working on a new novel. There’s sunshine and wind and a big sky. There are wonderful sea creatures on the shore. Wildlife (three deer on the beach this morning). Books to read, music to play, stories to write. I’m lucky.

This is the place where Larkin Day was “born”, the place where LARKIN ON THE SHORE was written. The book was launched just as the pandemic shut down our world, so I’m not quite sure where Larkin is right now –  although I know she’s trying to swim to the surface of young (and not-so-young) readers’ reading lists. If you can help, please do. This is a hard time to be an artist, and a good time to turn to art for sustenance. (Info on where to find LARKIN ON THE SHORE is on the BOOKS page).

Stay safe and well. Wear a mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Be kind.

Read books.

Okay? Right, I’m going for a walk on the shore…

*NEWS IN THE TIME OF COVID-19*

As I write this, schools are closing for March Break and won’t open again for three weeks in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus that has become a global health emergency.

I found out last night that a school visit I had been invited to in April has been cancelled, and I understand completely. We all need to be safe, and this is the way we do it. Good!

But if you are a parent or young reader looking for ways to stay connected, focused, busy and having some fun during this time off, consider CONNECTING WITH AN AUTHOR. 

Do you have comments or questions about a book you read? Find that author online or on social media – younger readers should ask parents for help with this one – and send a message to them or their publisher. We would love to hear from you. I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! Check out my Contact page for ways to reach me.

Stay safe, stay busy, and keep reading and writing!

Also, meet Hedwig, my owl. She’s watching over me as I work on my next YA novel…

*LARKIN IS LAUNCHED*

Friends and family joined me for an afternoon at THE BOOKSHELF in Guelph to launch Larkin into the world. Yes, with a nod to Larkin’s (and my) Nova Scotia connections, there were ginger cookies and (mini) cinnamon rolls on offer. (I have no idea what I was laughing at in this photo, but I do remember there was a lot of laughing that day!)

*BOOK NEWS*
Larkin on the Shore is now available!

“Well-told, intense and at times heartbreaking” – Sheree Fitch,
author of The Gravesavers

“A quiet, healing journey on the beautiful shores of Nova Scotia. The difficulties Larkin encounters are gripping, and readers will feel a connection to her. Readers will be pulled along by the strong voice in this emotional story.” – Kirkus Reviews

Larkin on the Shore is available in bookstores, now. It’s also available online now at Amazon, Indigo
and on the home site of my publisher, Red Deer Press.
*AWARD NEWS*
Skating Over Thin Ice was nominated for an Ontario Library Association 2019 Forest of Reading Red Maple Award!

The Festival of Trees Red Maple ceremony took place on Tuesday, May 14 at Harbourfront in Toronto, and it was a cold, windy day – warmed by the enthusiasm of so many young readers, teachers, librarians and amazing Ontario Library Association staff and volunteers. Take a look:

My sign carrier and introducer (Camilla and Zaffy)
Red Maple authors Pam Withers, E. Latimer, Colleen Nelson, Kristen Ciccarelli, me, Eric Walters, Marsha Fordych Skrypuch, Kevin Sands (Wesley King and Lorna Nicholson were already off-stage, signing autographs!)
Readers (and teacher/librarians) Joanne and Valerie at the signing booth
*MORE NEWS*

Skating Over Thin Ice was named to the USBBY 2019 Outstanding International Books List.