July 22nd, 2014
I have been working on this book a long time–I believe the original idea sparked somewhere in the year 2000 . I know I workshopped some very early ideas with my Concordia friends’ writing group that winter, and have been workshopping and rewriting on and off from this book ever since (about every 3 years, I’d try again). One of the many (many!) joyful things about the book deal is that now I know for sure I will have a place to put my ever-expanding list of acknowledgements. But the weird thing is, so many people have helped me with this book so long ago that they don’t even remember helping me, or in at least one case, who I am (that was an awkward conversation, let me tell you). I think I’ll try not to freak people out with the acknowledgements page–so no one who has potentially forgotten my existence–but I’m still really looking forward to writing it. Gratitude–love it!
After I posted the happy news on Facebook and Twitter yesterday, a few people asked why it would be SO LONG until the book is published–which is the sweetest thing in the world to ask. But the reasons are good ones! First, that’s how publishing rolls these days. To sell books effectively, it’s very hard to just publish things all of the sudden. Substantive edits, copyedits, page design and layout, cover design, composition, proofreading, printing and binding all take time, of course, and when you add in marketing and publicity, even more. It’s better to be later than sooner in order to get it all right. There’s books that come out faster, but mine definitely won’t be one of them…which brings me to reason number two…
SML needs a lot of work. I wrote the best book I could, and a lot of people helped me, and I am very very proud of it. But I knew it needed more, and I knew it was only by working with a really insightful editor that I’d be able to produce it. I am so grateful to Anita for wanting to do this heavy lifting with me, and I definitely want all the time I can get to make the edits and additions to the manuscript work in the best way possible. If it gives you a sense of my perspective, spring 2016 seems crazily SOON to me.
So yeah–that’s the scoop. Book in a couple years, in the meantime lots of work. In case you can’t tell, I’m THRILLED, really just bouncing down the street excited. More on this situation as it develops…
July 2nd, 2014
So my very exciting short memoir is now on newsstands and online in the July of Toronto Life. It’s called “Face Value” and is about the very intense jaw surgery I had in 2007. When the editor asked me if I had anything I would like to write about in a memoir piece, I was pretty positive that that event is the only thing in my personal history that would work. It consistently fascinates people I meet at parties and, really, me too–it’s maybe not the weirdest thing that ever happened to me, but certainly the weirdest that can properly be contained in narrative form.
Also, as of today my short story “At the Bar” is available as an ebook single with Found Press. Bryan Jay Ibeas did the cover and Amy Jones provided the blurb! Even if you don’t want to actually read the piece, you should at least go take look.
And that’s what’s up with me right now!
June 13th, 2014
I haven’t had a new story out since last fall, which to me is a little bit unnerving–the “Now and Next” sidebar item (look right) starts to seem a bit sad. So it is with a joyful heart that I share that my story “At the Bar” will come out with Found Press in July and “The Framer” with Little Fiction in the Fall.
Both of these stories hard the odd distinction of not being parts of collections. I mean, the characters recur elsewhere and if you follow my work extremely closely you may recognize them, but I don’t think they’re going to appear in a book any time soon. And since I have been very book-focussed the last few years, that’s a little strange and cool to me.
Both of the websites where these guys will appear are just awesome–please check them out. One of the many cool things they do is give each story they publish its own individual cover that they create for it. Which I just think is utterly delightful!
October 28th, 2013
I’m using up all my good news in one burst–another story, and possibly my last of the year, out this weekend–“Loneliness” is in the Fall issue of Compose Journal, which is online now for your enjoyment. “Loneliness” is actually a reprint of a story that originally appeared in The Big Dream, but never did get published as a stand-alone story, so I’m really happy it’s in Compose. If you’ve never read it, maybe take a look! There’s tonnes of other great stuff in the issue, too!
I also wrote a blog post about the origins of this story and, more interesting, what happened to it after I wrote it…that will be posted soon on the Compose blog, too!
September 8th, 2013
I’m pleased to say that my story Ms. Universe is now posted on Joyland for your reading pleasure. This is one of my weirder pieces and I was so worried I wouldn’t find a home for it–very grateful to Emily M. Keeler and Brian Joseph Davis for liking it and publishing it. If you read it, I’d love to know what you think!
August 19th, 2013
I can’t believe it’s been nearly a month since I posted! You’ll pleased to know I didn’t do much that was literary in my absence–mainly toured the Maritimes with my husband and his various associates, aka, went on vacation. Did you know there are mountains in Cape Breton? Well, there are and they are gorgeous, but scary to drive on. We also saw a wood grouse and ate most of the major mollusks, so I am well satisfied with the trip. Also happy to be home–the best combination. I will try to post some pictures of my own taking once I finally get’em off the camera.
BUT if you did miss my literary self terribly, not to worry: I have a couple stories coming out in the fall. My story “Ms. Universe” will appear on Joyland Toronto in September. Also this fall, my story “Loneliness” will appear in Compose Journal. “Loneliness” is from my second book, The Big Dream, so if you were curious about that one…
I’m also going to chat with some creative writing students on Wednesday night, so hopefully I will shortly be back in the swing of this literary life…we’ll see!
July 12th, 2013
This blog has been a bit quiet of late, and when I do post it tends to be vacation anecdotes or random rants, but here at last is a post with some actual literary news…
First off, in the ongoing adventures of the short film How to Keep Your Day Job, now a nomination for best short film at the Directors’ Guild of Canada Awards. I guess you can watch this space at the end of October to see who won, but it’s just so great to see the amazing cast and crew of the film getting some recognition!
In terms of my own literary accomplishments, my short story “Marriage” has been accepted for an upcoming issue of The New Quarterly. Longtime readers will know I have a long love of The New Quarterly and am thrilled that they like this story. Can’t wait to see it in their pages.
And finally, Monday of this week, I did a fun 75 minute class with Professor Rawding’s literature students at University of Waterloo. They’d read a dozen stories out of The Big Dream, then thought about their reactions and made lists of questions by theme. Each group took a turn asking questions–yes, I did over an hour of Q&A with people who a) knew their stuff (no softball “so do you write with a pen or on a keyboard?” questions) and b) had not chosen the book themselves and did not necessarily like it.
It was *intense* to say the least, but also thrilling–the best compliment is a careful reading, I say. And honestly, no writer worth his/her salt ever believes anyone who says “Great book!” and leaves it at that. But the thorough, insightful questions from these students made me feel truly flattered that the book inspired them. I hope my answers were as good (or nearly).
Here’s a picture with me and the class. I am slouching because I was worried about blocking the kids behind me, who were actually way higher so I just look odd. Professor Rawding’s on the left in the green check shirt.
And finally, a photo of me with the professor’s cat (of course!)
May 14th, 2013
2013 has been quiet so far on the readings and publications fronts–up until last week, I’d done neither at all this year–it’s all been working and writing and editing and being stressed, the sort of thing that doesn’t do well on stage or in print. I think last week’s Windsor Review would’ve been sufficient to bolster me for a while, but of course it never rains but it pours. After 5 months of silence, two stories in the world within a week is weird, but not undelightful.
My story “Love-Story Story” is just out in the May/June issue of This Magazine, which I’m so pleased about. That story was a long time in process, and longer looking for the right home so I’m grateful to Dani Couture for giving it such an estimable one. To celebrate, I think I’ll read an excerpt from the story at Racket at the Rocket on Friday night.
The Racket is a new east-side reading series. Their website hasn’t been update, but here’s the details if you think you might like to join me and Mark Sampson, among other stellar writers, for an evening of literature and cookies (the Red Rocket cafe, which hosts, has nice baked items in addition to beer, wine, and caffeinated things). I’ve stolen these details from Mark…
When: Friday, May 17, 2013. 7:30 p.m.
Where: Red Rocket Coffee – 1364 Danforth Ave (near Greenwood Subway Station), Toronto.
And of course, this comes on the heels of another reading/panel discussion, which I did earlier yesterday–no readings for 6 months, then two in a week. Go figure. Anyway, it was fun and credit should be given to my lovely co-panellists–Christine Gilbert, Monica S. Kuebler, and Claire Horsnell.
January 21st, 2013
Despite the overwhelming tidal wave of job-related work I’ve been doing, there’s been some writing-related stuff going on too. Here’s some highlights if you’ve missed me:
–my story, “Anxiety Attack” is in the current issue of Freefall Magazine, which is delightful news. My contributer’s copy is currently winging its way towards me but if you spot a copy in the wild I’d love to know how it looks–awesome, I bet.
–an article I wrote, “When Your Culture Is Counter-culture” is now live on the website Offbeat Bride. A new year’s resolution I don’t think I’ve mentioned here yet is to do more of this sort of lifestyle writing and service journalism, and actually try to get it published in places other than on this blog, where it doesn’t really belong. Literary journalism and criticism, as you know, give me hives, and even when I manage, through much struggle and editing, to make something decent, I’m still miserable. The above article, an advice-y chatty piece about my wedding and what others might learn from it, filled me with delight while writing it and I’m so happy reading the few comments its garnered so far. Next to fiction, this sort of thing is my favourite to read and write, so I think I should pursue it. If you know a website I should be submitting to, please let me know!
–I’ll be reading at Racket at the Rocket, organized by Open Minds Toronto on May 17, sharing the stage with my beloved husband. Yes, we’re just that cute.
–And finally, my story “Love-Story Story” will be published in the next issue of This Magazine. If you’ve not read my fiction, or only my second book, this won’t mean anything to you, but LSS is an Isobel story–a character that appeared in 2 stories in Once as well as “I Have Never Loved You Less” in Road Trips, and half a dozen other stories in various places. I’m always happy to see her and write about her–I do hope you enjoy the story.
October 14th, 2012
I’m the worst when it comes to cat obsession–I’ve already spent far too much time and bored far too many people talking about my kitty, Evan. I even have YouTube channel for my cat videos–including a new one that finally offers proof that Evan knows how to fetch
Ta da! And that great echoing silence is the sound of no one clicking on the link. Which is fine. Cats are my one pure indulgence, the one part of my life I don’t have to analyze or think about with a subtle critical eye. I just enjoy them and all their fuzzy silliness.
And it’s only going to get worse, because on Friday we got kitty number 2, Alice Sampsonblum. Isn’t she pretty? (I can’t explain what’s going on with my hair, here).
So it’s basically a personal problem and pleasure, cats, that has somehow crept onto this never-really-professional blog. But I *have* started taking a professional interest in cats, professional in the sense I write stories about them (though actually, I think kitten shepherd would be a great job for me).
From the earliest-written story in the book that became *Once*, I’ve always had cats around the margins in my work. Why? No reason except that I’ve always had cats around the margins of my life–when I imagine a world, it has cats in it. When a Famous Writer reviewed a story of mine for a class, all she had to say was it was interesting that an adult woman’s close friend would turn out to be her brother. I did not think that was interesting and wished she had said something substantive about the story, but it’s true–many of my characters have brothers, at least in my head if not on the page. Because that’s just my reality–my default position for the human race is to have a brother and a cat. Write what you know is a hackneyed, limiting piece of advice–but it can work sometimes.
I do not think writing about cats is more or less frivolous than writing about brothers, or anything else for that matter. As with everything in literature, it’s not what you do but how you do it. Which is why it’s ridiculous that, say, humourous writing is sometimes not taken seriously. I guarantee you the writer of a genuinely funny book took the task of making it so *very* seriously.
So I’m a touch nervous to say that I’ve written my first story with a more central cat in it, Everyone Likes a Little Guy, just published in the Rusty Toque Issue #3. I hope it’s a good story and engages with real people living real lives. Much as I want to live in a fluffy world where the kittens wear bowties and dance on rainbows, I live in the real world and try to write about it as best I can. One of the perks is occasionally I can write about cats.