And the winner is…

Prize pack awarded to School District 37 Delta, BC

We are very excited to announce the winner of Playfort Publishing’s BC School District Prize Pack draw! To see a list of the school districts involved in the draw, please click here. After lunch I had Louise pull a name out of a hat (actually it was a little paper cup), and the winner is…

BC School District 37 Delta!

Congratulations! We will package up your prize pack and send it in the mail today. We wonder what you will do with the goodies, and we would love to hear about it!

Congratulations and happy holidays!

The PFP team

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BC school district prize pack draw

Our Reading Takes You Places poster

Back in the summer we sent our Reading Takes You Places posters to the librarians at each of the public elementary schools in British Columbia. I spent a LOT of time folding each poster, creating mailing labels, affixing the mailing labels, organizing into appropriate school district piles, creating and printing a letter to each of the school districts, packaging everything up, and mailing each package to its appropriate school district office. This took a lot of hours, caused some blisters and paper cuts, and took four trips up and down the “steepest stairs in the world” to get all those packages into my car to bring over to the post office (and another 4 trips from my car to the post office). But all’s fair in love and literacy!

At Playfort Publishing we know how important literacy is, and starting young is the best way to ensure strong literacy levels later in life. That is why we support librarians, literacy groups, and teachers, and why we created the Reading Takes You Places posters for school librarians.

So we sent these out to all the school districts in BC for free and asked them to distribute to each of the elementary schools’ librarians. We then explained that we would be doing a prize pack draw of books and material to go to a winning school district. All they had to do was send us an email saying they wanted to be included in the draw. Out of the 59 school district offices in BC, we got a response from 9. Well, that means there is a 1 in 9 chance of winning! The schools to be included in the draw are the following:

  1. SD 27 Cariboo-Chilcotin
  2. SD 35 Langley
  3. SD 37 Delta
  4. SD 61 Greater Victoria
  5. SD 75 Mission
  6. SD 78 Fraser-Cascade
  7. SD 79 Cowachan Valley
  8. SD 82 Coast Mountain
  9. SD 83 North Okanagan-Shuswap

And the lucky winning school district will receive this wonderful prize pack from Playfort Publishing:

The prize pack

  • 2 copies of The Lunch Bag Chronicles by Don Sawyer
  • 2 copies of No Way Out by Melanie Jackson
  • 2 copies of Raw Deal by Melanie Jackson
  • 2 copies of Running by Don Sawyer
  • 1 copy of our latest catalogue
  • 1 chance to win a free Skype author presentation

This prize pack is an estimated value of $110.00 (does not include the value of the Skype session). Our titles are for reluctant readers and are great reads for boys (and girls). The books will be a wonderful addition to any school library. Thank you to all of the school librarians that put our posters up in their libraries and who spend their lives teaching and learning with kids. We will announce the winning school district tomorrow (Friday, December 15, 2011) at 2:00 pm P.S.T. (unless we still do not have Internet access in the office, which means it will be posted as soon as possible).

Good luck!


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Running crosses the finish line!

This book title has been giving me a lot of good blog post titles lately, eh? 😉 hehe. Well, good news folks! As you can probably gather from the title here, Running by Don Sawyer arrived on our doorstep today! A skid of boxes arrived at our door (the door at the bottom of the “steepest stairs in the world,” not the one at the top, unfortunately) and we quickly unwrapped it and started hauling those heavy boxes up the stairs and into our supply closet (our office is pretty small and we tend to run out of space easily). This time I did the honours of unboxing Running and here it is! I don’t think I will ever get bored of these days! Having the final product arrive all pristine and boxed up after months of hard work is such a thrill!

Congratulations to Don Sawyer on the most recent addition to your personally authored library! I have to say that I loved this book, and I’m not just saying that because I am biased—I know that this would have been a favourite of mine if it were around when I was in high school (before I had heard of Don or Playfort). It would make the perfect gift for any young adult or teen, boy or girl.

Running unboxing at Playfort Publishing

Running can be purchased from Playfort Publishing in paperback for $13.95, or in ebook (EPUB, PDF, or MOBI) for $8.95

Catch ya next time!


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Running along

Running by Don Sawyer

We found out that Running by Don Sawyer is ready! Now we just have to wait for them to show up on our doorstep… ah, the waiting game. Well worth it, though.

This story about three friends who run together in the Shuswap area of British Columbia was such a great one. I felt connected to the characters and could see clearly the picture Don Sawyer was painting with his descriptive narration. Even though it is about high school kids, I could identify with and relate to all of the characters—they’re so realistic. Here is the YA title synopsis:

Running is a fast-paced story about friendship, redemption, and the triumph of love. Louie and Paul come from very different worlds. Yet they have one thing in common—tragedies have shattered their families.  To bury their hurt, they run fast and relentlessly. A chance accident on the trails brings the two boys together, and an unlikely friendship grows. Joined by Annie, another loner who has secrets of her own, they form a threesome that runs like the wind in the hills above their town. But a disastrous attempt by Paul to join the school’s cross country squad and an explosive encounter with their star runner turns the alliance upside down. Overcoming their anger and loneliness, the three find a way to become a team again—and hatch an outrageous plot along the way!

Although we don’t yet have the physical copies in hand, the ebook is up online already at a very reasonable price.

Until next time,


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Social media road mapping

I am not a very social person. Don’t get me wrong, I can hold my own in any conversation and I am not shy or uncomfortable in a crowd, but I am an introvert. I definitely get my energy from internal thought and independent projects. But recently I have been given the task of starting Playfort Publishing on a social media campaign. Seems easy enough for a young professional like me, right?

Well, I found out that there’s much more involved than just making a facebook page and tweeting about our office lunches 😉

I have been doing a lot of research and all the social media marketing experts agree that a business has to have a comprehensive plan in place before embarking down that path. So I spent the day coming up with a list of questions that we must answer before we go live with our pages and accounts. It’s a pretty long list…

The short of it is that a business should know these key things before they start anything:

  • What is our objective?
  • Who is our audience?
  • What is our message?
  • How do we measure our success?

There are a lot more in-depth questions that help you to get to the core of why you should use social media for your business and how you can make it work best in your business’s situation. Because having a build-it-and-they-will-come mentality about social media won’t get you very far. The point is that you cannot know where you are going without a plan, and creating and sticking to a road map is the best way for a business to navigate through the social media network that is our world.

Tweet ya later!


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Off and Running

Running Proof

Running proof gets the stamp of approval

Wow, things are really moving along right now. Last Friday we received Raw Deal by Melanie Jackson all printed and bound and boxed up. It looked so good, and it was especially exciting for me because it was the first book I have been able to work on. I was so excited, in fact, that I grabbed a copy from the box, jumped in my car, and drove up to Okanagan College to bring it to my instructor from the Administrative Assistant program I graduated from. I just had to give her a copy and show her what I was able to accomplish with the training I received and her connection with my now boss, Louise (which is how I got in contact with her to start my internship).

This week is another ball game. We finished off Running by Don Sawyer and sent it to the printers on Monday, and by today (Wednesday) the proofs came in! It looks great so far. I wish this book were around when I was in high school, because I know I would have loved and appreciated it even more then. Either way, it is a great story about family, friendship, and overcoming life obstacles and tough times. I cried at the end, and I’m sure you will, too.

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Melanie Jackson explains Raw Deal

Here is our author Melanie Jackson talking about her most recent title with us, Raw Deal, which we just received from the printers last Friday! It really is an awesome mystery for young adults 🙂

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Big news!

Raw Deal unboxing

The much-awaited Young Adult novel by Melanie Jackson, Raw Deal, is finally here! We got the message that it was ready at the printers, and Louise went down to pick up a box. She did the honour of cutting open the box to reveal our newest title. How exciting! A big ‘Congratulations’ to our own Melanie Jackson. Click here to order your copy of Raw Deal today!

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Goes together like coffee and books

If you could do one thing at your job that would not only make your day bearable, but perhaps enjoyable, what would that be? I thought a lot about the parts of my day that I enjoy the most and those that I like the least when I was trying to decide what I wanted to do for a career. I knew that I wanted to work indoors and not in customer service. I also knew that I couldn’t handle doing the same menial task all day every day. I need variety and freedom, and I need to be able to eat and drink at my desk.

Having worked in retail and the food service industries, I know how stressful it can be to stand all day, deal with irate customers, and not be able to eat or drink when I felt the need. A sip of hot coffee can be the calm in the storm. I knew that no matter what career I ended up in, I had to be able to sip my coffee and snack when the urge struck.

I am happy to report that in my small publishing house I am able to do this. I didn’t think much about it, until a couple weeks ago. I was formatting our newest title that we are publishing by author Don Sawyer, and I needed a lil’ something to get through the afternoon. So I made an espresso shot with our wonderful little espresso machine, and I added it to a mug of hot white chocolate. As I formatted the novel and sipped my white mocha, I thought this to myself (and wrote it down in the memo pad in my BlackBerry):

Being able to make delicious espresso and hot chocolate drinks and sip them comfortably at my desk while I work gives me an amazing feeling that I have met a goal. That I have accomplished something. And I am blissful in this moment.

Happy Friday!


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Interview with author Don Sawyer (Part 2)

Here is part 2 of our interview with author Don Sawyer. Read part 1 here.

PF:  What was your first publication?
  Very first? A poem called Chuckie that appeared in The Fiddlehead in the winter of 1977. I still have the cheque: $5. They’ve been trying to figure out why their books don’t balance for 34 years.  My first book was Tomorrow Is School and I Am Sick to the Heart Thinking About It, a non-fiction account of our first teaching experiences in a Newfoundland outport.  That book is also available through you.  Uh, Playfort.

PF:  Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.
  It’s difficult to tease out any one incident. I have lived in Newfoundland outports and small BC native communities. I have given workshops in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. I have taught on reserves and at universities. I have managed CIDA projects in West Africa. I have canoed the Fraser River and climbed in the Selkirks. My wife and I took our honeymoon travelling from Windsor to Vancouver by train. I have seen suicides on reserves and on the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit. I’ve seen my kids grow up in a multicultural society that has equipped them to work effectively in extraordinarily demanding cultural and social milieus. I’ve written a book for kids about Confederation, and I’ve worked with Secwepemc elders while writing a book about Shuswap communities for elementary grades. All of these are uniquely Canadian. And all of them affect who I am and what I write.

PF:  What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?
  When Tomorrow Is School was published by Douglas and McIntyre, the first review (in the Vancouver Sun) panned it. I was devastated. Scotty McIntyre took me aside and told me two things: 1) If you accept the good reviews, you have to accept the bad ones. Better to not pay much attention to either, and 2) Writing a book is as close as a man can come to having a baby. After months of labour, you finally produce the manuscript. After careful and loving editing, it toddles out the door. Then it’s on its own. You’ve done your best and now you have to let it go.

PF:    What advice do you have for writers who are trying to get published?
  The usual: be persistent. I’ve never been able to nail down the exact figure, but legend has it that John Grisham’s first novel A Time to Kill was rejected more than 40 times. (Which means that 40 editors have now either jumped from high buildings or been fired.) Editors, for the most part, are not particularly good at picking stuff to publish. That’s why they rely on established writers. You just have to be at the right place at the right time. (Oh, and have a really good piece of writing.) One other note: I’ve been published by big houses and small ones. My best sales have come with the smaller publishers. Like Playfort. They often take more time marketing your books, and they also may have specific niches (e.g. aboriginal schools) where they have established themselves.  So I hope you take the hint and market the crap out of my books.

PF:  Tell us about some other recent writing projects.
  I wrote two books for Highgate Press, Playfort’s Quickread imprint, that are very interesting. But then you know that.

PF:  That’s not the point.  The readers don’t.
DS:  Oh, right.  So anyway, they are novels for adult readers with low reading skills. I wrote three of these for the BC Ministry of Education several years ago, and they have proved very popular with ESL and adult education students, as well as in alternate high school programs. The two I finished last year are mysteries. The first is Hurricane on Grimm’s Island and the second Saving Farley’s Bog. The trick with these is to write a fully adult novel at a grade 3 reading level that is engaging and entertaining. (Sound easy? Try it sometime.)
And then I got involved with you a couple of years ago on the lunchbag project.  Can I say that?

PF:  Let’s keep it impersonal.
  (Sigh).  OK, I got involved with Louise Wallace, the Playfort publisher, when we worked together on a labour of love, The Lunch Bag Chronicles. For years I drew pictures attached to jokes on my daughters’ lunch bags. They liked them so much, they brought them home, and eventually I had collected over 1,000 bags. We picked out a sample of these, combined them with a bit of narrative, and brought them out in book form about a year and a half ago. It’s a beautiful book, and it was a real pleasure to work with such a creative, collaborative team.

PF:  You say Playfort is collaborative.  How is that different from your experience with other publishers?
  The Playfort collective is a family of committed, talented people with expertise in every aspect of writing and publishing. There’s Harry, one of the most experienced editors in Canada. You’ve accepted manuscripts from best-selling authors such as Melanie Jackson. Otto, one of the most fantastic graphic artists anywhere.  And you too, Louise.

PF:  Uh-uh.  Impersonal.
  Right. Well anyway, Louise, the publisher, comes up with remarkably creative marketing ideas. Then there’s Violet, our office manager, who anchors us with her hard work and quiet competence. And Christina, our brilliant 14-year-old young adult editor. What a team. What that means is that we bring all of the expertise necessary to take a book from creation to publication together under virtually one roof.  We can be responsive and efficient.  For example, I just sat down with Violet to do the final edit of Running.  We had the whole thing done in a little over an hour. In most houses that would take months via email and with all the delays involved. As a writer I am involved in every aspect of the book’s production, from layout design and cover to marketing and promotion. I don’t feel like an outsider wondering what mysterious machinations are churning away in the bowels of the publisher’s office – or when it might finally spit out my finished book. We all work together and know the realities and constraints – as well as the possibilities – of operating a small publishing house in Canada. It’s fun.

Playfort Publishing would like to thank Don Sawyer for taking the time to answer our questions. His newest title, Running, is in the works right now and is expected to go to the printers in a few days.

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