the journey from writing a novel to ... what were we talking about again?

Tag: You like me! (page 1 of 3)

Did You See?

The Ottawa Citizen was kind enough to mention my book. And they mentioned it well!

Jackson Jones: The tale of a boy, an elf and a very stinky fish

By Jenn Kelly, illustrated by Arian Elsammak

Zonderkidz, $14.99


Jackson, a 10½-year-old boy who should be in Grade 5 but instead is in Grade 6, feels small and friendless at his new school and is intent on writing fabulous stories in which he is the hero. But, to his dismay, nothing interesting ever happens to him — until he falls into his very short Great-Aunt Harriett’s “very, very, very, very, very, very, very thick hair” where elf Meeka holds hourly tours accompanied by a smelly fish. Meeka takes him to a magical bookstore and an equally exotic cafeteria, then they encounter Meeka’s huntress sister, who protects birds from bubble-gum chewing critters called crubbies. In a series of further adventures reminiscent of Alice Though the Looking Glass, Jackson learns some life lessons, finds he is no longer friendless and performs a heroic, life-saving deed. The story also has a spiritual edge to it, leavened with mystery, humour and adventure. The book is broken into amusingly-titled chapters (i. e. “No longer the First Chapter;” “A Very Hairy Chapter,” and “In Which This Book Really Begins”). It is not a picture book, though there are apt illustrations.

Kirstin Endemann

Read more:

Fan Mail!!!

I haven’t figured out if it’s tacky to post fan mail or not. I think I’ll eschew formalities because I’m just so gosh darn excited about it!  The following is from Berkeley. California? Hope you don’t mind MO!


My younger daughter (10) is an avid reader and really fickle. It takes her hours of picking over titles before she settles on book. She’ll look at the cover, the back cover, the synopsis, the author’s description of herself, and read the first chapter before committing. Once she’s made a decision, it’s best to get out of the way, as she will disappear in her room until the book is done.

Anyway, she picked _Jackson Jones_ last week, and ripped through it. I’ll have to find a place to post the pictures she drew after finishing the book. The sketches will eventually be turned into a shadow box, which is her mission over the Thanksgiving break.

Last night, I spent a couple of hours with her back at the book store looking for something that was worthy of following JJ. No luck. She was in tears about it. (I think that may of had something to do with her dread of having Thanksgiving weekend at her Grandma’s with nothing to read.)

I just wanted you to know you have a rabid fan here in Berkeley. If you are ever in the area for a signing, please let us know.

I hope you have continued success with your writing.



I have decided to buy beautiful stationary and send out thank you notes to fan mail writers. Because 1) mail is almost dead and 2) who doesn’t like getting cards in the mail?

In other news: spent an hour on the phone with lovely Kathleen and must have all edits done by Thursday. Maybe Friday at the latest. Then the book will be finished (being written and awaiting publication) before she’s gone. Here’s praying for an awesome new editor!!!

Eating: salted caramel hot chocolate with soy. oh my good golly it’s gooooood!

Watching: nothing! Are you kidding me? I’m on page 16 of 136!

Listening to: annoying Christmas music. The radio kind, not the soft pretty kind. Must change stations.

Reading: Assassins.  Vogue.

Fan Mail!

This was not written by me. It was written to me. And I hope she doesn’t mind me posting it. It’s the first email of this morning and fully made me feel important.

Hi Jenn,

I am a mom to one girl in 4th grade and I recently brought home your book from Costco and tucked it away for Christmas or some other occasion.  The reason I bought it?  Well, first off, on the back it said you live in Ottawa and so do we; and second, your heart is in Hawaii and so is mine!  Haha…  We actually lived there for 3 years prior to moving to Ottawa a couple of years ago. 

Anyway, my daughter came home from school last week telling me that she needed to choose a book for a book report at school.  She loves to read (as do I), but couldn’t think of a book she wanted to do the report on, so I pulled out your book.  At first she thought it was going to be “too boyish”, but I said, “Just listen to the first chapter and then you can decide.”  Well, we were both hooked immediately!  Now when she takes it to school with her, I have to ask what chapters she’s read without me so that I am able to get caught up before we read that night.  I don’t want to miss a thing!

You know what is funny?  I read the last few entries on your blog, one being a review stating that there was no villian in the book, etc.  The thing is, that’s exactly the reason that my daughter and I love it so much!  Do you know how many books we have read half of and then had to stop because they’ve caused her to have nightmares?  Too many!  I love that this book is fun and entertaining, and also has a good moral foundation.  Just because a book doesn’t have a ‘bad guy’ doesn’t mean it’s not interesting.  We both look very foward to reading about Jackson’s adventure together every night, and we can’t wait to pick up your next book!!

Thanks for the great story!

Isn’t that awesome? Everyone should have a fan letter like that. I feel so good and lovely inside. Thank you!!!!


Reading: ‘I’m Number Four’, ‘Demons and Angels’, ‘Heaven’, ‘Soul Harvest’, November’s Issue of Vogue (I know, I know)

Eating: pizza. Oh I so regret it now!

Watching: the boys play Indiana Jones

Listening to : giggling.

Book Review Of Jackson Jones

Most words taken from ‘Quill and Quire’ Canada’s magazine of book news and reviews November 2010 by Laura Godrey. I didn’t put all of them (description of book) as I don’t want to get smashed for plagerizing. Or whatever. Can I rewrite reviews? I have no idea. I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough.

“This adventurous debut from Ottawa author Jenn Kelly has a perfectly silly spirit that helps put across the admirable lesson learned by its young protagonist blah blah. Blah blah. Blah blah.

Although it’s a joy to hear young Jackson mention the authors he admires and to see him take a literal and metaphorical leap of faith to protect his new friend, the problem is that our young hero is given relatively little external conflict to match the internal conflict he faces. The book has no villain and no ultimate goal for him to accomplish.  The people hemeets teach him important lessons about faith and love, but the book lacks suspense and danger that would make the payoff more rewarding.  Despite its shortcomings, and a set of lacklustre illustrations, it still offers a worthy tale about a boy who learns how to believe in himself. The author’s self-referential, outgoing sense of humour will also appeal to young readers, many of whom will see themselves in Jackson.”

You know, when you read a review, you want to defend yourself. But then that would be defensive.  Or catty. Or complaining. Or whatever.

I just want to say thank you to Laura for the awesome review.

And that ‘Alice in Wonderland’, ‘Anne of Green Gables’, ‘The Secret Garden’, ‘The Black Stallion’, “Little House on the Prairie’ etc did not have villains. Or goals.

I’m just saying.

Eating: shake

Reading: My Life in France by Julia Child (I love food)

Watching: nothing

Listening to: quiet.

School Presentations

 Yesterday was very cool.

I got to do three presentations at two schools on behalf of the Ottawa Writer’s Festival.

The first school was Robert Bateman and the kids were grades 4-6. There were about 130 of them. The library was packed! And they were so much fun. I had volunteers come up and help act out a story that they made up as we went along. It was fun. The protagonist had the gift of extra smelly farts that melted the jail cell bars that the villain had put him into.

The second school was FJ MacDonald and the first presentation was for the grades 1-3. We only had half an hour so we acted out Jackson Jones. Once the little girl put on the huge wig to be Great Aunt Harriett the kids were killing themselves with laughter. After that presentation was the older kids and we acted out another story. It didn’t go as well as the first but it was still a lot of fun.

At the end of the day, my throat hurt from ‘projecting’, my feet hurt and I had a headache. I honestly don’t know how teachers do it. They are amazing.

*I totally ‘geeked’ (Kathleen’s word) when I saw that my name was in the Ottawa Writer’s Festival brochure on the same line as Charles De Lint!


Tomorrow is another presentation at the Orleans Public Library on Orleans Road at 1pm.


reading: The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell  lovin’ it.

eating: tacos! ole!

watching: nothing.

listening to: the boy build lego stairs

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