Child's drawing of a rocket blasting across Mars

Mars with rocket

Dear Irene,

I absolutely love your drawing. The design is so bold, the lines so clean, the movement so dynamic! This would make an excellent T-shirt design, or the cover for a sci-fi novel, or the mission badge for the first-ever team going to Mars. I hope you are considering a career as a graphic designer when you grow up.

As to your question, which of my books do I like the best, I would have to say it is the one I am working on right now, which isn’t even published. I’m still working on the last two chapters, and it is only the first draft, but I’m having a blast writing it.

Happy reading,
Jessica

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

Not a prison

Dear Mason,

In searching through the letters I’ve received this past year to select my final one to post for 2020, I came across your drawing.

At first, I thought you’d drawn a prison, and I admired your attention to detail. Look at that surveillance helicopter! That razor wire! It reminded me of how I’ve been feeling, so cooped-up in my house these past nine months during the pandemic. Then I read your letter, and it turns out, you hadn’t drawn a prison, but rather the secret military facility known as Area 51. Further, you’d like to visit Area 51 in the hopes of seeing some aliens from outer space, where, as rumour has it, they can be found. So, that’s cool.

Still, I returned to my previous thoughts of feeling like a prisoner, and then I realized that I was being ridiculous. I’m surrounded by all my favourite things, I’ve stayed in touch with close family members and friends, and I have a charming dog that gets me out on daily walks.

I decided to choose your letter for my last post of 2020 anyway. This has been such an unbelievable and difficult year. If it is revealed that there really are aliens held in Area 51, I would no longer be surprised.

Happy reading. Stay safe. Let’s look forward to 2021.

Jessica

Child's drawing of Earth and the Moon with an astronaut

The Moon has water

Dear Evan,

I really appreciate the wonderful details you’ve added to your drawing, including Neil Armstrong’s footprints on the Moon’s dusty surface. Isn’t it fun to know that those footprints are still there, undisturbed, even though it has been fifty years since the first astronauts landed.

I just learned that water has been discovered on the Moon. Imagine that. I wondered if it would taste exactly the same as here. So I googled it. Turns out that the water on Mars is predicted to be very salty. No word yet on the Moon, but chances are it wouldn’t be pure enough to drink. Chemicals from the Moon’s surface along with meteoroids are likely mixed in with lunar H2O.

All that to say, there’s no place like home. Stay well, and happy reading.

Jessica

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

Full cast

Dear Penny,

I’m convinced you’ll be the next author under 30 in Canada. You’ve already developed a fine cast of characters. Of course, they are pre-pandemic, standing so close to each other, but still. You have hinted at plenty of drama in your labels.

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 published those books on their copyright page.

I wish you the best. Happy reading and writing, and do stay safe.

Cheers,

Jessica

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

Child's drawing of a photograph of time spent with dad

Click!

Dear Noa,

Thank you so much for sharing a happy memory of the time you and your dad spent working on a project together. I love how you’ve captured that moment with your drawing of a photograph of that moment. Sometimes, it is difficult to sort through and decide which moments will matter over time, and which ones turn out to be not important, even forgettable.

I say, hang on to happy memories because they will serve you the best in times of uncertainty.

Stay well, and happy reading,

Jessica

Child's drawing of a pet clinic with three vets

Pet clinic

Dear Claire,

I think there must be plenty of great story ideas that come from pet clinics. I recently took my dog Ivy for her booster shots, and let me tell you. She couldn’t wait for that chapter to be over. She spent the whole time cowering behind me, her stubby tail wedged between her legs. And what was really heartbreaking was that the vet was being so kind, getting down on the floor and cooing to Ivy, even offering really tasty treats.

Ivy wanted none of it. No gold sticker for Ivy. I’m certain I’ll use this scene in a future novel.

Stay well and happy reading,

Jessica

Child's drawing of the planet Mars with a Canadian flag and a rocket.

Extra bright Mars

Dear Henrik,

Thank you so much for your gorgeous drawing of Mars. I’m thinking about Mars today because tonight, Earth will move in its orbit to line up with Mars and the Sun, forming a straight line, with Earth in the middle.

As a result, Mars will look bigger, brighter and redder from Earth. Also, Mars won’t get this close to Earth again until 2035! Pretty special!

If it is a clear night where you live, and you happen to have a telescope, you might even see Mars’ polar icecaps. Mars will be rising from the east as the Sun sets.

Alas, it is pouring today where I live, which means that clouds will block my view. The only red I’m going to see are the sodden leaves clinging to the maple tree in my backyard.

There’s always next year.

Stay well, and happy reading,

Jessica

Child's drawing of a crow

Crow

Dear Jack,

I like crows, too. I see them all the time at the park when I walk my dog Ivy. There’s a whole murder of them who yell at her from their treetops as she trots down the path pretending to ignore them.

Here are a few interesting facts about crows. They have an excellent memory and can remember faces of people. They can problem solve and use tools. For example, researchers dropped a small bucket of crow food at the bottom of a long tube and gave a hungry crow a wire. The crow actually bent the wire to hook the bucket handle and retrieve it! Crows weigh about the same as a soup can, and they can fly up to 65 kilometers per day. They have been known to adopt baby crows that have been orphaned. Lastly, they’ll eat anything. Literally, anything. They are not picky eaters.

If you hear caw-caw-caw, they are likely warning others of danger. Ivy doesn’t get away with anything when they’re on the lookout.

Happy reading and birdwatching,

Jessica

Child's drawing of a tree house with red escape slide, basket and rocking chair

Basket

Dear Olivia,

I like how you’ve meticulously labelled absolutely everything in your drawing, like a scientist or a museum curator. Also, you’ve really paid attention to details: the straws in the glasses of lemonade, the chocolate chips (or are they raisins?) in the cookies, the flowers in the window boxes and the heart-shaped doorknob. It’s quite wonderful. Authors love details!

I’m intrigue by the basket of wool you’ve included. Do you knit? I knit and I have just finished a blue sweater. I found that having a craft or two on the go has provided me a welcomed escape during this pandemic.

Stay well, and happy reading,

Jessica

PS I’m pretty sure they’re chocolate chips.

Child's drawing for a tree fort

Pandemic tree fort

Dear Scarlett,

I know you drew this for me a few months ago, but I now find that your work beautifully captures what it’s been like living at home and quarantining during a pandemic.

For example, you have quite a few people crowded into a small home, but everyone, including the gigantic bunny, has found their own private space within it. Second, you’ve drawn arrows to show where to walk or move to keep up with social distancing. Lastly, someone is dropping off a basket of food, maybe even baked goods. Very kind.

Thank you so much for this timely drawing. I’d also like to take this moment to thank these organizations and people for their online work that has kept me safely occupied and in good health these past few months:

@hfxpublib

@twuc

@writerstrust

@scbwi

@authorsbooking

@GoodLifeFitness

@MrAndrewCotter

@sarahcpr

Happy reading,

Jessica