Friday, August 29, 2014

Back to School (Presentations)

It's that time of year when kids go back to school and kids' authors go back to school too: to give school presentations! It's my favorite part of being an author; I just love public speaking.

And I'm excited this year to be giving two types of presentations: a FREE one to adults about boys and literacy (PTAs, PACs, public libraries and parents' groups), and another (sorry, not free!) to students grades 4 to 8 about how I research my novels (which means tons of amusing anecdotes, not to mention special encouragement to read and write). Check out

Better yet, I'm off to California for two months to write and do presentations for schools, libraries and parents' groups. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, feel free to book me now. If you live en route from my Vancouver, Canada home (i.e., western Washington, Oregon), you're also eligible for a talk without travel expenses. Toll-free: 1-866-413-9216

Want to know my most embarrassing moment in a school presentation? The time I had to rise very early for a long drive, so I wore my comfy driving shoes and took along my nice dress shoes to change into. I arrived, changed into my nice shoes, walked in and gave the presentation. Only afterwards did I glance down and see that I had on one (brown) dress shoe and one (black) driving shoe. No wonder a few teen girls in the front row were snickering. Or maybe I was kicking off a new fashion trend?

Happy back to school week!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Book review by young fan

I keep all my fan letters and I try to answer every one of them. Why? Because it takes a lot of initiative and confidence and effort for kids to write me, and I salute that effort. It's also flattering, of course. :)

Last week I got a special one, because the young reviewer (Isabella, age 9) even decorated the card she used for writing a review of my latest book, Paintball Island. She splattered the front of the card with all colors of paint, while also including her own artwork of paintballers (and a coyote!) running from tree to tree. Very creative!

Here's her review:

"I liked the part where they all wore nightvision goggles. I liked the character Marie because she is very curious and clever. The story reminds me of the coyotes howling in my back yard. I still wonder if the coyotes will have their purple spots forever. Three words to describe the book: Mysterious, Fun! and Exciting."

Thanks, Isabella. And anyone curious about why I included a deaf character in that novel, read this blog:;postID=3036772409615063198;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=5;src=postname

As for anyone else out there willing to write a review, if you're willing, please do so on Amazon, Chapters and other online bookstores, please.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The cure for kids' summer boredom

"I'm bored!" my 11-year-old nephew declares on a regular basis, never mind whether he's at the zoo or seaside or even summer camp. "Buy him a camera," a wise parent advised my sister. She did. And now? My nephew is never bored. He is always raising his camera and shooting, therefore seeing so much more about him, seeing it in a new way. Boredom? Solved by becoming a shutterbug. What a great tip for parents of pre-teens (or kids of any age). And here's a shot of my nephew capturing some baby seals during a boat ride yesterday. It didn't hurt that our boat captain was a professional photographer who encouraged my nephew (and knew where the seals hung out). Seal photo by Captain Toby:

Hope everyone is having a great August. Pam

Monday, August 18, 2014

What do Farley Mowat, JK Rowling and L. Frank Baum have in common?

They're all highly successful young-adult authors, yes. And I have most of their books, yes. But here's the real reason I've grouped them together. My husband and I just bought a former bed and breakfast ocean-front cabin, where we'll hold the occasional writer's retreat and retire to eventually. And there are bed and breakfast rooms, which were begging to be named. (Bed and breakfast rooms need names. Right?!) So they are now the Farley Mowat room (which will double as my office when no guests are around), the JK Rowling room and the L. Frank Baum room. I've stocked each room with the author's bio and books, and although two of these celebrated writers have passed away, JK Rowling is free to show up and stay in her room anytime. :) Our little hideaway is on a Gulf Island that is four miles long, and situated between Victoria and Vancouver, B.C, Canada. That's all you get to know for now! P.S. L. Frank Baum wrote the Wizard of Oz series, and I read every single one as a child.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Helping struggling readers: a great resource!

As someone who is passionate about getting kids to read, I'm always pleased when I stumble across a great resource. Maybe many of you know about this website already, but I'd like to do a shout-out about it. It includes articles like "7 ways to get students excited about reading" and "How do you keep struggling readers motivated when they don't see improvement in their reading?" Anyone who has found my book Jump-Starting Boys* useful, hopefully will find this site useful too.

Here's the link!

*Jump-Starting Boys:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Calling all friends and fans!

Who out there has read one of my books and can submit a quick review on Amazon, Indigo, or direct to me ( Yes?! Super! You're all the greatest!! Because Alex is making me do this. Alex is my new social media adviser, and she says (can you imagine!) that I need more reviews on these sites (and my own website) for new fans and potential readers to contemplate. Alex (who is savvy and enthusiastic when it comes to social media, as opposed to my Neanderthal self) also says I have to blog more than two or three times a year. (Seriously?!) So watch for more verbiage in this space. And if I love your review, watch for your name on my home page soon, too! Thanks, family, friends and fans!

Okay, just to make it easier, here's a list of my books so far. Best, Pam (coming out of the Neanderthal Age, thanks to Alex)

Paintball Island, copyright 2013, ISBN-10: 1928014089, ISBN-13: 978-1928014089

Tundra Books:

First Descent, copyright 2011, ISBN 978-1-77049-257-8

[COMING SOON!] Andreo’s Race, copyright 2015 ISBN 978-177049-766-5; e-book is 978-177049-767-2. paperback Can $14.99 / U.S. $12.99

Extreme series:

Raging River, copyright 2003, ISBN 978-1-55285-510-2

Peak Survival, copyright 2004, ISBN 978-1-55285-530-9

Adrenalin Ride, copyright 2004, ISBN 978-1-55285-604-6

Skater Stuntboys, copyright 2005, ISBN 978-1-55285-647-X

Surf Zone, copyright 2005, ISBN 978-1-55285-718-2

Vertical Limits, copyright 2006, ISBN 978-1-55285-783-0

Dirtbike Daredevils, copyright 2006, ISBN 978-1-55285-804-2

Wake’s Edge, copyright 2007, ISBN 978-1-55285-856-1

BMX Tunnel Run, copyright 2007, ISBN 978-1-55285-904-9

Mountainboard Maniacs, copyright 2008, ISBN 978-1-55285-915-5

Orca Books:

Camp Wild, copyright 2005, ISBN 1-55143-361-3

Breathless, copyright 2005, ISBN 1-55143-480-6

Daredevil Club, copyright 2006, ISBN 1-55143-614-0

Menasha Ridge Press:

Going Vertical (with Tao Berman), copyright 2008, ISBN 13: 978-0-89732-652-0

Viva Editions (FOR PARENTS): Jumpstarting Boys: How to Help Your Underachiever (with Cynthia Gill), copyright 2013, ISBN 978-1-936740-39-0

Jumpstarting Boys in Chinese: Heliopolis Culture Group in Taiwan. Their web page: Or order from

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Meet Tony (age 12), who happens to be deaf

There's a reason that 12-year-old Tony, a character in my just-off-the-press novel Paintball Island, happens to be deaf. A few years ago just after I spoke at a literacy conference, a deaf-interpreter studying to be a teacher approached me to say, "Did you know that are almost no kids' books with deaf or hard-of-hearing characters? Maybe you could write one!"

Bam! That was the genesis of Tony, and that interpreter (Kirsten Hagemoen) ended up working with me to ensure Tony's and the plot's authenticity. Last week I had my first feedback on Paintball Island. Renate Ford, a tutor and retired teacher, wrote this after reading Paintball Island:

"This little book is an exciting adventure story for both boys and girls – of any age. The tale of Max and his family, who run paintball games on their island home, will captivate even reluctant readers (as one of my students can attest). In addition, a second story line introduces a young deaf character who first faces misunderstanding from his teammates, but is eventually accepted as a regular member of the group. Pam Withers approaches the issue of deaf culture with sensitivity and understanding. Bravo!"

Well, bravo for Kirsten, who took the initiative to ask all that time ago. My most fervent hope, as always, is that it inspires kids to read. Maybe deaf and hard-of-hearing kids will find that Tony resonates with them, and perhaps more importantly, kids without his issues will come away with a better understanding of fellow students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Either way, it was fun writing Paintball Island!

P.S. The sign above is for "P," the first letter in the book title as well as in my name.