Guest Post: Melanie J. Fishbane on What Maud Taught Me

Melanie at Mabel’s Fables in Toronto.

By Melanie J. Fishbane
for Cynthia Leitich Smith‘s Cynsations

This month, Maud (Penguin, 2017) is releasing in paperback. And I feel one thing…Gratitude.

In this unstable publishing climate, not all books go to paperback.

It isn’t the natural progression it once was.

My publisher—Penguin Random House of Canada and its imprint, Penguin Teen—continue to support the book with digital ads and worked hard on the paperback edition.

It looks beautiful.

I’m also grateful for what the Maud taught me about the process of publication, of having something now out in the world for people to read and how to step into one’s “author self”—whatever that is supposed to mean for you.

Grateful because I had hoped that the book would become part of the conversation about Montgomery, to encourage new readership and it has. To inspire readers to “keep climbing” to whatever goal they want to pursue.

Grateful because I’ve been able to travel and talk to people about Montgomery across North America, people who didn’t know of their personal connections to her, or about her struggles as a woman to be educated and get published in late 19th century Canada.


Grateful because through the wonders of online shipping, Maud has been read in Canada and the United States, and has found its way to Australia, Japan, Poland and Brazil.

I discovered one day that it was being reviewed on an Italian blog!

These things are extraordinary to me—that someone cared enough to want to read my book and have it shipped across the world.

Grateful because Maud connected with young readers in ways I never could have anticipated.

One reader I met at a book signing later contacted me to do an interview for a book report she was doing for school and, later, told me she received an “A!”

Grateful because a group of teen readers from Saskatchewan told me that they had passed the book around and had questions about what happened to my characters, about L.M. Montgomery and her books, and where they could find out most of these details. (I did have these things on my website, but it was lovely to see that the book inspired such passionate questions!)

When I was signing at a bookstore in PEI, a tourist from Croatia had heard from the woman who runs the birthplace that I was going to be there and had her parents drive her to Summerside to meet me. 

Melanie signing books at the L.M. Montgomery Conference.

And grateful because last June at the L.M. Montgomery Institute Conference, a graduate student spoke about Maud for 20 minutes—giving me permission to stay in the room while she did. And she said nice things! The book is now included in her master’s thesis. (I hope she’ll let me read it!)

It has been an honor to connect to these people. It was nervous-making putting a creation out into the world, having no control over what it was going to do. But Maud has shown me that when you allow things to unfold, beautiful things emerge.

Cynsational Notes

Author photo by Ayelet Tsabari

Reporter Melanie J. Fishbane covers Canadian publishing for Cynsations. She holds an M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and an M.A. in History from Concordia University.

With more than seventeen years’ experience in children’s publishing, she lectures internationally on children’s literature. A freelance writer and social media consultant, her work can be found in magazines, such as The Quill & Quire.

Melanie also loves writing essays and her first one, “My Pen Shall Heal, Not Hurt:” Writing as Therapy in L.M. Montgomery’s Rilla of Ingleside and The Blythes Are Quoted,” is included in L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years 1911-1942 (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015). And her short story, “The New Girl,” was published in the Zoetic NonBinary Review.

Her first YA novel, Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery, was published by Penguin Teen in 2017. The novel was featured on the Huffington Post’s Summer Reading List, a top pick for the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading Kids Summer Reading and winner of Hamilton Public Library’s Next Top Novel.

Melanie lives in Toronto with her partner and their very entertaining cat, Merlin.

Follow Melanie on Twitter @MelanieFishbane and like her on Facebook. Read an article by Melanie on Earning & Celebrating Success.

Canadian Children’s-YA Literature Awards

By Melanie J. Fishbane
for Cynthia Leitich Smith‘s Cynsations

This fall a number of awards were given out to the best of Canadian children and young adult books.

Here’s the rundown of who won, the shortlist and more.

The 2017 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards

Every November, in a gala event at The Carlu in downtown Toronto, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC), in partnership with TD Bank and other donors, gives out $145,000 in prizes to the best in Canadian children’s writing and illustration.

A similar award ceremony occurs in Montreal, Quebec distributing French language awards.

English Awards:

TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($30,000) Winner:

The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk by Jan Thornhill (Groundwood Books, 2016)

Finalists ($2,500):



Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award ($20,000) (Sponsored by A Charles Baillie):

The Snow Knows by Jennifer McGrath, illustrated by Josée Bisaillon (Nimbus Publishing)

Normal Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction ($10,000) (Sponsored by the Fleck Family Foundation):

Canada Year by Year by Elizabeth MacLeod, illustrated by Sydney Smith (Kids Can Press)

Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People ($5,000) (Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Bilson Endowment Fund):

Blackthorn Key, Book 2: The Mark of the Plague by Kevin Sands (Aladdin)

John Spray Mystery Award ($5000) (Sponsored by John Spray):

Shooter by Caroline Pignat (Razorbill Canada)

Amy Mathers Teen Book Award ($5000) (Sponsored by Sylvan Learning):

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston (Dutton Books)

See the full list of finalists and comments from the jurors.

French Awards

Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse ($30,000):

Même pas vrai by Larry Trembly, illustrated by Guillaume Perreualt (Éditions de la Bagnole)

Prix Harry Black d l’album jeunesse ($5000) (first time awarded):

Au-delà de la forêt by Nadine Robert and illustrated by Gérard DuBois (Comme des géants)

Governor General’s Awards

Every fall the Canada Council for the Arts gives the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Awards, which recognizes the best in Canadian English and French books.

Winner Young People’s Literature – Text (English):

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Demaline (Dancing Cat Books)

Shortlist Young People’s Literature – Text (English)

Winner Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books (English):

When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Fleet (Highwater Press)

Shortlist Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books (English):

Winner Young People’s Literature Text (French):

L’Importance de Mathilde Poisson by Véronique Drouin (Bayard Canada)

Shortlist Young People’s Literature Text (French):

Winner Young People’s Illustrated Book (French):

Azadah by Jacques Goldstyn (Les Éditions de la Pastèque)

Shortlist Young People’s Illustrated Book (French):

Cynsational Notes

Cynsations reporter Melanie J. Fishbane covers children’s-YA writing, illustration, publishing and other book news originating in Canada.
Photo by Ayelet Tsabari

Melanie holds an M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and an M.A. in History from Concordia University.

With over seventeen years’ experience in children’s publishing, she lectures internationally on children’s literature. A freelance writer and social media consultant, her work can be found in magazines, such as The Quill & Quire
Melanie also loves writing essays and her first one, “My Pen Shall Heal, Not Hurt”: Writing as Therapy in L.M. Montgomery’s Rilla of Ingleside and The Blythes Are Quoted,” is included in L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years 1911-1942 (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015). And, her short story, “The New Girl,” was published in the Zoetic NonBinary Review. 
Her first YA novel, Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery, was published by Penguin Teen in 2017.
The novel was featured on the Huffington Post’s Summer Reading List, a top pick for the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading Kids Summer Reading pick and winner of Hamilton Public Library’s Next Top Novel.
Melanie lives in Toronto with her partner and their very entertaining cat, Merlin.