March 30th, 2016

Pages Unbound, hanging with students, literal and figurative frosting

In the endless drudgery that is novel-completion, I am very fond of anything that is not novel-completion. Especially things that make me feel writerly without requiring me to, you know, actually write anything. That sort of thing is really the icing on the cake of this whole career choice I’m making…

So getting to talk with a classroom of college students last week about reading and writing (along with my husband Mark Sampson and the wonderful professor (and friend) Nathan Dueck was a joy and delight. So was tagging along with Mark to launch his new poetry book, Weathervane alongside Dorothy Moahoney at the fabled Biblioasis store (it’s a lovely as I’d hoped!)

And so is the prospect of getting to take part in “Burst: New Voices in Canadian Literature” on May 6 as part of the Pages Unbound festival. The wonderful and talented Suzanne Alyssa Andrew and I will be sharing the stage with a bunch of other emerging types, and I’m so excited to meet and hear them. And to read a little myself, too!

Sharing what one has written is the frosting of writing, of course–it has to be, for if you are counting on publishing and ensuring accolades to sustain you emotionally or (heaven help you) financially, you might well starve to death. Writing as well as I possibly can needs to be enough for me because it would be easier to do almost anything else and no one wants to listen to me complain about something I could easily elect not to do. But I like this line: “If someone can talk you out of being a writer, you’re not a writer.” (it’s from this essay by Josh Olson–warnings: snark, swears)

So I write because I’m a writer and if it’s hard it’s my problem because I wanted to tell these stories. Them being written, and available for me to read myself is the sustenence here. But I do really enjoy the icing on the cake, giving the work to others and seeing what they think–so grateful the opportunities to do so that come my way.

Possibly, frosting is on my mind of late, because I was in the States last week (after Windsor it seemed natural to go on to Michigan and see some of the rockstars we know there) and a friend asked me to see if I could find any rainbow-chip frosting. Apparently it used to be available all over North American, then only in the States, and most recently no one could find it anywhere. I googled and found that the frosting had in fact been discontinued and is now coming back. I also found this insane video of a guy who who got 7000 people to sign a petition to bring back the frosting (!!!!) and then, when invited to a party celebrating his success, seemed absolutely terrified.

Anyway, I bought the frosting and my friend was delighted. I bought a tub for myself too and am really looking forward to trying it–can 7000 people be wrong? I can’t find a way to tie this back into the post or the central metaphor, but basically: you take your fun where you can get it.

August 19th, 2013

Back at the Rose-coloured ranch!

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 3rd, 2013

Thunder Bay: Now with photos!

 

I promised ages ago to post some photos of my Thunder Bay Experience, and though that trip, less than a month ago, seems impossibly distant now, I still enjoy looking at these and thought you might too…

Random public art at the TB harbourfront

Random public art at the TB harbourfront

Statues on Mount MacKay (note also gorgeous weather)

Statues on Mount MacKay (note also gorgeous weather)

The amazing and stunning Kackabecka Falls

The amazing and stunning Kackabecka Falls

Lake Superior from the harbour

Lake Superior from the harbour

Lake Superior up close

Lake Superior up close

Random deer on someone's lawn--love it!!

Random deer on someone’s lawn–love it!!

And there’s even more, but you get the idea–Thunder Bay is a gorgeous place and you should go look at it if you possibly can.

June 10th, 2013

Greetings from Thunder Bay

I forgot the dooie (technical term) that imports photos from my camera to my computer, so this post will lack the most important aspect of Thunder Bay: visual beauty. It is full of trees and rocks and beaches and every time you turn around, there’s Lake Superior flashing blue and enormous at you. There’s also a number of mountains, a gorge, a waterfall… Imagine if Niagara Falls were 20 minutes away from the Grand Canyon… It’s like that here.

Also: wildlife! It is very exciting here, to the point where i have a hard time concentrating on conversations that happen in cars, because if you look out the window long and hard enough you might see: a momma deer nursing her fawn; an adolescent bear thinking about crossing the road, deciding against, then lumbering off. Or a moose! A ring-tail hawk! Baby goslings! Photos of some of the above to come–some moved too fast for me to capture on camera.

Other things they have in Thunder Bay: nice houses owned by non-rich people; Finnish pancakes; a nearby crossing to Minnesota; friendly people, including my lovely host Jaime; a farmers’ market; a steakhouse with a salad bar (love!), and much more. I am having a good time here, as you can probably tell. Soon it will be time for a tour of the university here, Lakehead, but in the meantime I just thought you’d like to know how nice Thunder Bay is, and that you should probably come visit if you get the chance.

Photos to come in a future post!

October 26th, 2012

Back and last of the 1000 Things

So I went to Vancouver and it was awesome, but caused me some confusing days with the wrong number of hours in them, as well as a lot of time slouched up against an airplane window while a broad-shouldered man tried really hard not to squash me. So I’m tired but I met a lot of amazing folks, heard brilliant readings, and ate as much salmon as humanly possible without being an embarrassment (I don’t think). So let’s get a bit closer to polishing off this liking list while I’m in such a good mood.

First, from Fred,

942) Becky’s cat channel (RR says: aw, thanks!)

And from Jane,

943) paper warm from the printer

And now me, with a heavily west-coast tinged bunch

944) candied salmon
945) Walking along and suddenly seeing a body of water where you didn’t expect one
946) farmers markets
947) tiered tea trays
948) holding a baby who doesn’t mind
949) Irish accents in general and Anakana Schofield‘s in particular
950) Anakana’s novel, Malarky
951) Really good huggers, like VIWF’s head honcho, Hal Wake. In the midst dozens of authors, staff and volunteers, hundreds of audience members, too many potential problems to count, and basically a perfectly awesome festival, he still found time to hug like he meant it.
952) When Alice the kitten stands on the palm of my hand
953) Not even starting to fret that it won’t work out before it does in fact work out
954) GIFs
955) Zsuzsi Gartner
956) Angie Abdou
957) Caroline Adderson
958) Biting into a chocolate-covered cookie to discover it’s actually a chocolate-covered cream puff
959) When my suitcase is first one to hit the baggage carousel (I swear, this actually happened for my return to Toronto)
960) Toronto, city of my love
961) Fluffy pillows
962) My brother
963) Blogging
964) Swiss Chalet (less than an hour to go!)

October 1st, 2012

What I’ve Been Up To

I was doing so well at the regular posting for a while there, but seem to have fallen off last week. Do I have excuses? Not really, but here’s what I was doing instead of blogging:

1) On Tuesday night, I went to the Bibliobash, where my fellow Biblioasis authors were reading. I was late, because of my evening class, and so missed all the actual readings, but still managed to a) get Alice Peterson’s excellent collection signed, purchase CP Boyko’s new one and c) chat up the authors. I meant to buy the new Chekov translation by David Helwig, but due to a miscommunication, didn’t–next time!

2) Following that, I had a migraine for 48 hours (unrelated…I think). For those familiar with migraines, mine are not the worst kind–some people see auras, throw up, and basically have to be alone in a silent dark room until things improve. My migraines are usually of the sort I can function through, albeit not cheerfully. The worst-case scenario is fairly serious pain, shaking hands, nausea, and an inability to concentrate, which is where we were on Wednesday, a day on which I slept for close to 16 hours. It was sort of glorious, in a way. The worst of the pain had abated by evening, but it took another day to shake it completely.

3) On the weekend, we went to stay in a fancy hotel, a treat given to us as a very lovely wedding gift. Since the hotel was in Toronto, we figured we didn’t need to bother with tourism or posh restaurants, so we spent the whole time in the hotel. Swam in the pool, examined the fancy piano bar, then ordered pizza and watched 4 hours of televisions–we don’t have TV at home, and the lost art of channel surfing is sorely missed. The best part was re-watching *Edward Scissorhands* after an interval of 20 years. It’s still so gorgeous and moving, but the ending???? SPOILER ALERT: Winona Ryder decides their love is too difficult so she leaves Edward all alone in his house at the top of the hill. Then she returns to her normal surburban life for FIFTY MORE YEARS, with only a slight tinge of regret. Why is she not a really horrible person??? Why????? Ahem.

4) Throughout all of this, I was reading Pasha Malla’s People Park, an extremely overwhelming experience. Were it not for my abiding love of Malla’s first book, I would not have touched *People Park*–500-page alternative realities are not my friends, normally. Just a personal preference, not a judgement. So perhaps it was for lack of context that I was so overwhelmed by People Park–so wildly ambitious, so diverse and imaginative, so *weird.* I don’t know if it was brilliant or terrible or what. I’m leaning towards brilliant, but I would really like to talk this through with someone, only no one I know has read it yet. I tried reviews online, but seem to stick with effusions or excoriations without much explanation or examples. I know, I know, reviews aren’t tutorials, but you’d think someone could help a girl out here. Did *you* read People Park? Any thoughts?

September 13th, 2012

Reading in Ottawa

We briefly interrupt the 1000 Things We Like listing to bring you this shameless self-promotion. Well, promotion for lots of others, too, but if you click on this poster to make it big enough to read (why do you thwart me, WordPress image sizing?) and look way down, you’ll see I’m doing the last reading of the fall at the Ottawa Public Library on November 24. Tremendously looking forward to it! If you’re in town, please consider it (or any of the others)! Note, online signup required (here’s the link)

August 22nd, 2012

I dos done!

We did it–we got married. And once we had, we looked like this

This was a very good day. (photo courtesy of my friend Kimberly)

And then we went to Costa Rica on our honeymoon, where we did a whole lot of reading on the beach (4 books and assorted magazines!) and swimming in the ocean. And met this really nice cat

EDIT: You can see my wedding ring in this video (when I pet the cat)!!

And then came back and retrieved our own cat and did a bunch of laundry and went back to work and started planning a bridal shower for someone else (the cycle of life continues).

You see why I warned you there’d be no Rose-coloured in August?

But I’m back now and hoping to complete a bunch of posts on here soon, and maybe even kick off some new series. Thanks for your patience during this hectic–but very happy–time.

April 1st, 2012

Maritime University Tour with Amy Jones

…was so fun! As the last major block of touring I’ll do for *The Big Dream* (there are still some one-offs to come this spring/summer [and maybe fall]), it was so delightful to have lovely venues, warm hosts, engaged audiences, and a stellar reading companion (basically constant companion). Here are some of the highlights:

The Halifax waterfront--a bit chilly, still lovely.

Amy at the Waterfront--also looking a bit chilly, but entirely lovely.

Post-St. Mary's reading, at the Bistro, with Alexander MacLeod, Amy, Zach Wells, me, and Brian Bartlett

This is one of Amy's mom's THREE cats, Ben. It is a very happy household.


Professor Wanda Campbell starting off the readings at Acadia University.

Amy, batting cleanup at Acadia.

The whole gang from the University of New Brunswick creative-writing team had dinner with us. So friendly!

Me, doing air-quotes, at the UNB reading.

November 27th, 2011

Things Happening

So I went out west to do a bunch of readings and had an amazing time–but I also was in 4 timezones in 4 days, and am now very tired. So this recap will be brief–but with links elsewhere, and a few pictures.

Before I left, the November Quill and Quire went online, including that review of *The Big Dream*. Also the December print edition of Q&Q came out, and if you should read it you might see a gang interview on the short story with me, Jessica Westhead, D. W. Wilson, Alexander MacLeod, and Michael Christie. You should read that interview, because it’s definitely interesting, but you should also take a look at the picture of us (sadly minus the east-coast dwelling Mr. MacLeod) looking confused and friendly, as your garden variety short-story writer often does. (Bonus: there’s an extra picture in the table of contents).

Then on Sunday the Winnipeg Free Press ran a short interview with me by Ariel Gordon, in advance of my appearance there with Ray Robertson on Thursday. But before that, Calgary and Vancouver. Here are some highlights:

Ray reading from his essay collection "Why Not?" at Pages on Kensington in Calgary.

A veritable fiesta of breakfast cereal at my hosts' home in Calgary.

Gorgeous weather in Vancouver.

Me, baffled in Vancouver because I couldn't find the Ocean--where are you, Ocean?

Cathy Stonehouse reading at the Incite series in Vancouver.

Post-reading socializing with awesome friends in Winnipeg.

And home again, home again, jiggety-jig (what is that line from, anyway?)

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