May 25th, 2017

Amazon First Novel Awards

Guys, it has been really really great being an Amazon.ca First Novel Award finalist. The teams from The Walrus, Amazon, and Penguin Random House have made the experience feel really special and fun, but what has been best has been reading the books. I figured a judge (the very impressive Tanis MacDonald) who liked my book a lot would also like other books I would like, and I was right. Since the nominees were announced, I’ve read The Break by Katherena Vermette, White Elephant by Catherine Cooper, Accordeon by Kaie Kellough and half of The Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains by Yatsuko Thanh (I’m never quite as fast as I think I’ll be!) and it has been a truly amazing experience. The books are all so good! And so different! And so thrillingly heartfelt, moving, technically complex (all of them wrestle with point of view and who tells the story) and ambitious. And as I was reading, and honestly, truly engrossed, some tiny part of my brain was thinking, Someone thought your book was this good, too. It has been a great feeling.

Last night was the very fun and swanky pre-awards dinner with all the nominees and our chosen plus ones, editors and other publishing folks, people from the Walrus, Amazon, and the judging panel (the final decision is being made MacDonald plus Gurjinder Basran and Casey Plett and assorted other luminaries. It was delightful to hang out and enjoy dinner and talk to people about all these amazing books without any big announcement at the end of the evening.

That’s tonight, of course, and while I have no worries at all–I know without a doubt that a fantastic book will win tonight, and I can’t feel sad when that happens–I am sorry to see this lovely time end. It is very nice to celebrate books and very nice to have my own book celebrated, and I feel very very lucky indeed.

May 22nd, 2017

I still like things; how about you?

So much going on, and not enough hours in the day, but

331. Sleeping until I just wake up because I’m not tired anymore
332. When a stranger overhears my joke and laughs
333. Overhearing a stranger tell a good joke
334. Black beans
335. Flipping channels and randomly hitting something I actually want to see that has only just started
336. The sugar crystals at the top of the maple syrup bottle
337. When they throw in a few samples at Sephora
338. Sephora
339. The smell of strawberries in season (out-of-season/imported strawberries don’t have a smell, have you noticed that?)
340. The smell of lilacs
341. Running into a friend on a crowded street in a big city
342. Kitty feet
343. The smell of grass-clippings mixed with the smell of gas from a lawn-mower
344. Getting a nacho with so much cheese on it
345. When the neighbours stop being noisy exactly when I want to go to sleep
346. Said the Whale
347. The thrill of the passed-appetizers hunt
348. Unexpected money, even a tiny bit
349. Coupons
350. Shoppers Optimum points

May 19th, 2017

Hometown proud: Get Lit and the Glanbrook Gazette

Way back when I was a teen, I used to read the Generation X column by Jamie Tennant in the Hamilton Spectator. We was one of the very few cool people I had located in my immediate surroundings, though we never met in that period, and I really liked the column. I thought someday perhaps I could be cool too and then I would know cool people who wrote newspaper columns and perhaps even become one of them. I was really disappointed when the column ended in 1994, and just utterly delighted when Jamie reappeared on my radar this year as a different kind of cool person, a novelist and literary journalist for the show Get Lit on CFMU in Hamilton. He interviewed me when I was in Hamilton last month and it broadcast last week–if you weren’t in Hamilton to hear it, you can listen as a podcast anytime. It was really a great interview not only because of my teenage admiration but because of the close reading and thoughtful questions Jamie brought to the table (microphone). So much fun!

I also got interviewed by the extremely local paper for the little town I am from, The Glanbrook Gazette, which was also delightful. It’s owned by Sachem now, but is still for and about the teeny community I’m from. So charmed to be mentioned there.

And not really related to the hometown stuff, but just another thing of mine to come out lately is my 49th Shelf list of Good Books for Hard Times, which is of some of the funny books I read while I was writing So Much Love. SML was a long hard project and it was good to read some more light-hearted things while I was doing it, every now and again. Might be a good list to pick up if you, too, feel like a project is getting to be a bit too dark for you.

And hey, happy long weekend!

May 11th, 2017

The Slip by Mark Sampson

This is an exciting spring at my house–my book came out in March and now, on May 20, my husband Mark Sampson‘s third novel The Slip will be published by Dundurn Press. All the reviews–and there have already been some great ones in Publishers Weekly, Quill and Quire, and more–agree that it is funny and it really is, a fast and absurd but also somehow realistic take on how fast we can f up our lives in this age of the internet. I *could* be a little biased but with the above reviews on my side, I really don’t think I am. You should read it–in 9 more days!! And then you should come to the launch party on May 31, 6pm at Ben McNally Books, which promises to be a lot of fun!

Also nice, for the first time since we’ve met, Mark and I will have books out in the same season, which makes it a little easier for us to do events together. We’re starting out with Pongapalooza on May 16, where we will each captain ping-pong teams and attempt to lead them to victory in a bitter marital rivalry (this is a fundraiser for First Book Canada, actually). Then I’m taking a little breather from events but when we are out east, ostensibly on summer vacation, we’ll be doing at least one, reading at the Confederation Library in Charlottetown the evening of June 29, with a few more events possibly to come.

But my real point here is, yay Mark!

May 8th, 2017

IFOA with Kerry Clare and Amy Jones on Wednesday

I’m so very excited to be participating in IFOA Weekly this Wednesday May 10 at 7:30pm with Kerry Clare and Amy Jones, hosted by Sheniz Janmohamed. In anticipation, I did this interview for the IFOA blog. Good times! If you’re in Toronto and enjoy high-quality discussion of books, you should really join us Wednesday.

Other news about me/So Much Love in the world? Well, there’s this lovely interview with Joseph Planta on The Commentary, reviews in/on Ultra Violent Lit and a few other mentions thither and yon. I’m starting to think about a few events this summer and even into the fall and I’ve even been invited to a couple bookclubs, all of which I’m excited about.

April 26th, 2017

Authors for Indies, the Winnipeg Review, some fun interviews

For the first time ever, I’ll be participating in Authors for Indies this year. This is a great event that I have always missed due to scheduling, not lack of love. What it is is, authors go to indie bookstores and help out–sell books, chat with customers, create displays, run event tables, whatever the booksellers need. This is a day for authors to give back to the many independently run bookshops that do so much to support us. It is also, from what I hear, a lot of fun.

I’mventuring out of my comfort zone in terms of the city, heading first to Etobicoke and A Novel Spot from 10:30 to 11:30 and then on the Bolton and Forsters Book Garden from 1 to 3. I’m looking forward to seeing these shops, both of which I’ll be seeing for the first time, some new parts of the GTA, and meeting lots of readers. Especially, I’m looking forward to talking about BOOKS, books other than my own. I’ll be recommending lots of great ones like Sex and Death edited by Sarah Hall and Peter Hobbs, The Weather Inside by Emily Saso, Mitzi Bytes by Kerry Clare and as many others as I can get people to listen to me for. I’ve also recently realized that I can SHOP while I’m in these stores, which is super-exciting. So it’ll be a very good day, as long as I don’t get lost (well, I’ll probably get lost but I’m leaving extra time–as long as I don’t get VERY lost).

In other news, I still have the Bibliobash tomorrow night, and tonight I will be gluing one of my shoes back together in anticipation–wish me luck. Yesterday was a lovely reading in Aldershot for Different Drummer Books with Kyo Maclear and Trevor Cole that was lots of fun. Yesterday also saw a lovely review of So Much Love by Dana Hansen in the Winnipeg Review, which I thought was so insightful and generous and thoughtful. My IFOA 5 Questions interview got posted, in anticipation of the May 10th event with Kerry Clare and Amy Jones and me! And my very silly answers to the Hamilton Review of Books’ Proust Questionnaire got posted, which is delightful event though I’m pretty embarrassed as to how much I talk about my cat.

I think that’s all the news for now…

April 24th, 2017

Globe review, Different Drummer Books and Brunch, Bibliobash

There was just a gorgeous review of So Much Love in the Globe and Mail on Saturday–I was really moved by the way the reviewer, Marsha Lederman, reacted to the book. And I feel incredibly lucky that my novel received such an attentive, thoughtful review.

Tomorrow I head off to the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens in Aldershot for Different Drummer Books’ Books and Brunch event with Kyo Maclear and Trevor Cole. That should be fun (and delicious)!

Then on Thursday I’ll be at the Bibliobash to benefit the Toronto Public Library. How great that a fun and fancy night out can also benefit one of my favourite causes. Great when that sort of thing works out.

April 21st, 2017

The Making Room Anthology and Out in the Open on the CBC

Oh, you guys, the Pivot at the Steady reading was so nice. Every reader was great (even me, if I do say so humbly–I lived up to the evening I think!) the host was great, everyone that I spoke to in the audience was great, the vibe in the room was great, even the temperature was great. I wish I went out to readings as often as I used to–it was about once a week, more or less, in my late twenties and I just went to anything my friends suggested or that sounded cool to me. Now 10 years later it’s less than once a month unless I am myself reading and I really miss it. Stupid increasing decrepitude.

BUT I am reading a lot these days in support of So Much Love and while that in itself is a lot of fun, it’s also wonderful in that it gets me out listening to all the talented folks who are on the bill with me at readings. Like Saturday night, for example, when I’ll be reading at the Toronto launch of the Making Room anthology with so many brilliant and talented women like Amy Jones, Ayelet Tsabari, Eleanor Watchtel and tonnes more. It should be an amazing night. If you can’t make it or don’t live in Toronto, you can still order the anthology, which is huge and amazing and well worth reading. $26 is a steal for a book that covers 40 years of female and feminist writing in Canada. I’m not all the way through yet but I’m just floored by the strength and diversity of the gathering.

Sunday will be a day off from me and my book, but if you miss me, you actually hear me on the radio talking about the only other thing besides books people ever want to talk to me about–my big crazy jaw surgery! I’ll be on Out in the Open with Piya Chattopadhyay at 11am on Sunday morning, 11pm on Tuesday, or you can listen online at the link above. It’s an interesting show concept, on personal transformation, and I’m looking forward to listening to all the interviews myself!

April 18th, 2017

Quill and Quire review/Pivot at the Steady

There’s a lovely starred review of So Much Love in the current issue of Quill and Quire by Josef Grubisic that is making me really happy. It is easy for sensitive writer to take even a positive review and get agitated about things we disagree with or feel aren’t quite accurate, but this review has none of that for me–how amazing! It’s online now and you can read it at the link above but I urge you to stay tuned–or pick up the print issue–because this issue of Q&Q contains another great review of a really wonderful book by an author I am VERY FOND OF. I’ll say no more.

In other news, I’m reading at Pivot at the Steady tomorrow night, with Shane Neilson, Erin Robinsong, and Kevin Connolly, which will be swell. I love Pivot, maybe most out of all reading series. Not just because I read at the very first night of Pivot, and for every book since, not just because it has always been amazingly curated even as a number of different folks have hosted it, all equally amazing in their own very different ways, and not just because everyone is always so nice there, the audiences so warm and supportive, the readers so interesting and engaged. But also because I met my husband there, in January 2009, when Kerry Clare brought me to hear Jessica Westhead read. I didn’t know Jessica either at that point and I now am lucky enough to count her as a friend, and a few weeks after that I was sitting alone at Pivot and a cool-looking couples set their coffees down on my table and we’re still friends too, despite the fact they now live on another continent.

But Mark is my biggest Pivot win and I’ll always be grateful to the series for bringing us together, even though that is corny and there are potentially 10 000 people on earth I could be happy with and perhaps I would have met one of them if I’d gone to a different reading. I don’t want to be married to those people. I only want to be married to Mark, and I am, and so–thank you, Pivot. See you tomorrow.

April 16th, 2017

Amazon First Novel Award Shortlist

Guys, a thing happened: So Much Love got shortlisted for The Amazon.ca First Novel Award. It is very nice to have my book noticed in this way, especially considering the calibre of the other books on the list–I’m thrilled that So Much Love was seen to be on the same level as these four impressive books (imagine being nominated for a prize and you thought all the other nominees were terrible? What an awful experience that would be!)

I like literary awards, though I know very well there are problems with the “prize-culture” that hovers around them. But it does seem like a pretty good thing to have a happy enthusiastic conversation about good books, celebrate them at parties, and give a few beleaguered, tea-stained authors a little bit of stardust. I’m delighted for myself but also for my publisher, McClelland and Stewart, and especially my beloved editor Anita Chong, who worked so hard on this book and believes in it so strongly. I am so lucky to have had (and to continue to have) such incredible support and I want the M&S gang to be rewarded for it. And maybe the attention around the nomination will help a few more readers to whom So Much Love would mean something find their way to it, which my ultimate goal this season.

I have been nominated for things before but not in a while, and not of this magnitude, if we judge magnitude by the size of the prize purse or the number of people who have been excited on my behalf about the nod. So I know from experience that it’s great that there’s over a month until the big party at the Four Seasons where the award-winner gets announced, so all five of us can bask in possibility until then. And I know it’s not just important to go around saying “it’s an honour just to be nominated” but to really mean it, because it *is* and why not enjoy the process, since I can’t control the result? I’m going to read the whole list, pick out a party dress, and truly enjoy the chance to meet the other authors and ask them about their work. And if rumour is correct, I’m going to eat a lot of excellent snacks.

If you’ve written to congratulate me, thank you–I’m hoping to cash in all those kind notes in hugs in the near future.

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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