Not a prison

Child's drawing of a prison yard with a helicopter overhead.

Dear Mason,

At first, I thought you’d drawn a prison, and I admired your attention to detail. Look at that surveillance helicopter! That watch tower! That razor wire! Then I read your letter, and it turns out, you hadn’t drawn a prison at all, but rather the secret military facility known as Area 51, which is rumoured to house aliens from outer space. So, that’s cool.

This reminds me of how we often see something and jump to conclusions, when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. When that happens, there is unusually something fascinating behind the misperception, something to explore and write about.

That said, as we move into 2024 with artificial intelligence used to make up stories, attacks on news organizations and social media spiralling ever downward, if it is revealed that there really are aliens held in Area 51, I would no longer be surprised.

Happy reading. Stay safe.

Jessica

Full cast

Child's drawing of a cast of characters for a proposed novel

Dear Penny,

I’m convinced you’ll be the next author under 30 in Canada. You’ve already developed a fine cast of characters. I appreciate the dramatic labels you’ve assigned them.

When looking for a publisher, it is best to find one that has produced books similar to the one you have written. You can do that by doing some research at your library. Your librarian might also be able to help if you describe the type of book you are looking for. Then it is a matter of seeing who publishes those books on their copyright page and writing to them about your story. That’s exactly how I got started.

I wish you the best. Happy reading and writing!

Cheers,

Jessica

P.S. I don’t work at a fancy-pants hotel either.

Angels and devils

Dear Kassidy,

I selected your letter this week because Halloween is coming up and your drawing caught my attention. I hope that lots of children come to our door in terrific costumes like the ones you’ve drawn. Drawing your parent dressed like a giant is also brilliant!

Then I read your letter. You weren’t drawing costumes at all! You were illustrating a terrific story idea. I hope you do write it. It would make a truly spooky story, also good for Halloween!

Boo!
Jessica

Everyone’s the same

Child's drawing of a bicyclist running into a tree

Dear Jaheim,

I think you’ve come up with a lovely idea for your story. I agree with you that everyone has different needs, abilities and goals, but at the same time, everyone is the same: we are all human beings, we are equal and we deserved to be loved.

Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful insights.

Happy reading,

Jessica