Recent appearances

Robert Kemp Turner Elementary School – workshop for teachers

I delivered a half-day workshop to elementary teachers looking for tips on how to encourage their students to find their own writing voice. The workshop ended with some exceptional pieces of writing that participants shared out loud. I was inspired by their work, and the surrounding artwork in the classroom added charm to our working space.


Canadian Children’s Centre Book Tour – Montreal

I’m pleased participate in this across-Canada event, where I’ll be touring Montreal and the surrounding area. The TD Canadian Children’s Book Week begins May 5 and the 2018 Theme Guide is live! Discover books by this year’s touring authors, illustrators and storytellers who are also getting ready to tour across Canada.

Michael Wallace Elementary School (school visit)

Thank you to librarian Susan Rickard for inviting me to Michael Wallace to chat about writing with the grades 3s, 4s and 5s. I especially liked the plush velvet chair in their library where I gave my presentations. Such a cosy chair to sit in with the perfect library book!

Colby Village Elementary (school visit)

Thank you to James Cruddas for inviting me to speak to the grades 3s and 4s at Colby Village Elementary. I could tell by their questions that several are destined to become full-time writers!

Park West School (school visit)

Thank you to Arlene Comeau for inviting me to speak to the Grades 3s, 4s and 6s. I also read to them from my newest novel, The Things Owen Wrote. My favourite question asked that day was: “Do all your stories include something personal from your own life?”

Armbrae Academy (school visit)

I was delighted to return to Armbrae where my son had attended school from Primary to Grade Six. I provided writing trips and read from my most recent novel, The Things Owen Wrote, to the Grades Threes and Fours. They were well-prepared, attentive and engaged!

Conference – Association of Teachers of English Nova Scotia

I was invited to lead a writing workshop at this year’s conference, held at the Eastern Passage Educational Centre in Nova Scotia. English teachers make wonderful workshop participants, even sharing their own work during read-out-louds!

Sacred Heart School of Halifax (school visit)

I had a fantastic visit with the grades 3s and 4s at this school. I told them stories about my son who attended this school when he was little, and how so many of my novels have been inspired by those experiences!

Prospect Elementary (school visit)

I was invited to visit the grades 3s and 4s and enjoyed their creative questions about writing and the things they dream about. One student told me that he dreamed about becoming a writer! Pictured here is a beautiful teacher and student-created ceramic mural located at the entrance to the school.

Maple Ridge Elementary (school visit)

I was invited to this school in Lantz, Nova Scotia, where I talked about where I get my story ideas. It also happened to be “wild hair” day, so the students were particularly creative with their questions.

Canada’s Smallest Library (Prince Edward Island)

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I discovered Canada’s smallest library at Cardigan River, Prince Edward Island, which I sailed to during my summer vacation. I would love to be invited back for an author reading. I’m sure that I’ll be able to fill the room!

MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Conference (Ottawa)



The MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Conference turned 25 this year and I participated as one of the writing workshop leaders! I spoke to 150 students from grades four to eight who had a passion for writing. The conference took place in Ottawa at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, April 19 – 21, 2016. Learn more by watching this video.

Grande Prairie, Alberta (book tour)

A nice welcome!
Some Young Grande Prairie Writers!

In January, I visited 10 Grande Prairie elementary schools, the Grande Prairie Regional College and the Grande Prairie Public Library, and over the course of my one-week tour, I presented to over 2,700 students! I would especially like to thank the Grande Prairie Children’s Literature Roundtable for organizing this tour as well as  the Canada Council for financial support.



I spent two weeks in Iceland undertaking research for my latest novel, The Things Owen Wrote. Central to my new story is the late Canadian/Icelandic poet, Stephan G. Stephansson. One of my stops was to visit his monument, located on the northern coast of Iceland where he grew up. Stephansson later emigrated to Southern Alberta. His homestead has been designated as a historic site, and I spent a summer there during my undergraduate degree as an interpreter.

Southern Alberta Book Tour


Jessica spoke at 12 schools and public libraries in Southern Alberta in May, 2015. She chatted with over 1,200 students and 50 teachers during her tour. A very special thank you to Richard Chase, the Lethbridge Children’s Literature Roundtable, the Rocky Mountain Book Awards and the Canada Council for supporting this opportunity to meet young Alberta readers.

Governor General Awards


Jessica was honored to serve on the jury panel for the children’s English text category of the prestigious 2014 Governor General Awards for Children’s Literature. The category included young adult novels, middle readers, graphic novels, picture books and nonfiction for children. During deliberations, the panel took a break and toured the new Canada Council office in Ottawa.These bookshelves contain all the Governor General literary award winners to date.

TD-Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards Gala (Toronto)


Jessica (far right) attend the 2014 TD-Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards gala in Toronto. Her book, The Spotted Dog Last Seen, published by Groundwood, was nominated for the John Spray Mystery Book Award. Jessica is seen here with fellow Nova Scotian children’s book colleagues. Over 600 attended this event from across Canada.

Word on the Street Festival (Halifax)


Jessica (far right) read from her latest novel, The Spotted Dog Last Seen, which was recently nominated for the 2014 Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s John Spray Mystery Award as well as the 2014 Canadian Library Association’s Children’s Book of the Year. Her favorite question from the audience was: what do you do when you have writer’s block. Her answer: go for a walk.

Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award (Prince Edward Island)

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAJessica toured both the South Shore and the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia as part of the 2014 Hackmatack celebrations, which culminated in an awards ceremony in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Jessica was delighted that her book, Lower the Trap, was nominated for this Atlantic Canada award, and thanked her clever editor, Sheila Barry, as well the awesome librarians who assisted with her tour: Teresa Workman and Christina Pottie (South Shore Public Libraries); Laura Emery, Cindy Lelliott, and Joyce Oliver-Snair (Eastern Counties Regional Library); and Kate Watson, event coordinator.

Frye Festival (New Brunswick)


Jessica was invited to this year’s Frye Festival to present to children from pre-school up to grade 6. Over 10,000 New Brunswick students met and interacted with invited authors during the festival. Thank you, Canada Council and to the Delta Beausejour for a wonderful visit.

New Public Library in Halifax


Jessica and colleagues toured Halifax’s new central library, which is currently under construction and is due to be open later in 2014. An entire floor will be dedicated to young readers. In addition, the architecture is brilliant and will be a much welcomed landmark in Jessica’s neighborhood.

National Forum on the Literary Arts

Jessica attended Canada Council’s National Forum on the Literary Arts, held in Montreal in February, 2014. Over 250 participants included writers, publishers, agents, translators, librarians and literary critics to share their thoughts on ensuring a vibrant future for  Canada’s literary arts.

I Love New York


Jessica visited the New York Public Library’s new children’s books exhibit on 5th Avenue and learned that her latest mystery novel, A Spotted Dog Last Seen, was included in their top 100 books for 2013.

Nocturne: Art at Night


Jessica was pleased to launch The Spotted Dog Last Seen at Halifax’s historic Old Burying Ground as part of the annual  Nocturne: Art at Night festival. Special thanks to the Old Burying Ground Foundation for permission to access this national historic site, and to Groundwood Books who produced the launch video.

Halifax: Independent Booksellers’ Breakfast

Jessica was invited to the Independent Booksellers’ Breakfast in Halifax, where she talked about her new mystery novel, The Spotted Dog Last Seen, and provided some cemetery-based anecdotes that inspired her. A special thank you to Lisa Doucette, Woozles Children’s Bookstore (Halifax), who organized the event!

Newfoundland: Book Tour

Jessica recently returned from an exceptional book tour in Newfoundland, where she landed in Deer Lake and visited schools all the way up the coast to St. Anthony. A special thank you to the Canada Council and to Sandy Chilcote, Divisional Manager, West Newfoundland-Labrador, who organized the tour and served as her guide through one of the prettiest regions she’s ever visited. She’ll treasure her memories of student assemblies, caribou sightings and her newly purchased hand-knit hat and trigger mitts.

Southern Ontario: Book Tour

Jessica was delighted to learn that her readers in southern Ontario also love lobster. A special thank you to the TD Canadian Children’s Book Week for sponsoring her on this tour, and to Monica Winkler, Canadian Children’s Book Centre volunteer, who attended to all her complicated scheduling details, including trains, planes, buses and automobiles.

Halifax: Ahoy, Theodore!

Look up. Way up! Tall Ships Nova Scotia was the one of the biggest, most exciting events to hit Halifax’s waterfront. The perfect family event, Tall Ships showcased the best of Nova Scotia through music, food, film and history. Jessica read aboard Theodore Tugboat as part of the 2012 International Tall Ships Festival!

New Jersey: Boo!!

Jessica recently presented her newest manuscript, the main setting for which is a historic cemetery, to the annual Association of Gravestone Studies in New Jersey. There, she learned much about the care of historic grave markers and she met a number of experts on cemetery studies who volunteered to advise on her latest novel. A special thank you to the Access Copyright Foundation for a research grant to support this work.