May 10th, 2010

The News

So the news is, in case you have not been picking up on my extremely subtle hints, that Rose-coloured is moving to its very own dedicated URL with a splendid new design from Create Me This, and life is good. Ok, life is actually incredibly hectic, so I’ve been building up to the big unveiling by not posting much–I’m sure you’ve been crushed by my silence. But see below–lotsa cool stuff:

1) May is the Month of the Short Story. I sort of knew this last year, but not really, because I spent most of May in Japan, where was probably not the Month of the Short Story and even if it was I wouldn’t have understood. Anyway, I definitely know it this year because Steven WB has moved 31 Days of Short Stories to now and that’s so amazing. Although my first thought when I saw the first post was, “Hey, that’s not until August!” I have a hard time with change. At least it’s not one of those 30-day months or I would really have lost it.

2) Amy asks (in the comments on the last post) what I say when I’m asked by a random person at a party what I do–writer or editor. It depends on the party–I go to a lot of parties where people are both writers and editors and other artistic people and sympathizers. In *that* crowd I always say writer (if we talk for long, the other will come up though) because they are likely to get it and be nice about it. *However* if the party consists of people of unknown professions, I say “editor” because I’m scared they will be mean to me if I say “writer.” That’s, mind you, a stupid stereotype of people in the non-obviously creative professions (in fact, most people need to be creative to get their jobs done). However, some people *are* dismissive, and I get really sad when someone, even a random stranger, is mean about my writing. It’s like they insulted my significant other–the conversation cannot go on. And although rare, this *has* happened.

Pharmaceutical exec: So, what do you do?
Me: I’m a writer. I had a book of stories come out in 2008.
PE: A writer? Really, so you just sit around and write all day?
Me: Well, actually…
PE: Man, that would be great–sleep in, make coffee, write a little story. No crazy commute, no DVP, no stress..
Me: Well, actually…
PE: (long detailed discussion of PE’s exact route to work, timing, possibility of accidents, etc. Seriously, 10 minutes!) A writer, wow, I should get on that. That would be the life. No stress at all! You wouldn’t believe what I have to put up with.
Me: You must wish you were dead.
PE: What?
Me: I wish *I* were dead?
PE: What?
Me: Oh, look, the hostess just put out a new kind of cheese. Excuse me.

Ok, I might have made a little tiny bit of that up, but largely, it’s accurate, and so very depressing. I’d rather just say “editor” and talk about my bus route to the office. Which makes me, I know, a giant wuss, but it’s less stressful by far.

3) Lindsay has a new website too, and it’s really pretty. Spring is the time of web renewal, apparently!

More to come soon, I promise–and brace yourself for the big change (I think this is a change I will be able to handle) of URL, coming soon!

RR

February 23rd, 2010

Groups and Challenges

In Writer Guy’s review of Century as part of Canada Reads Independently, he wonders if he’s right in calling CRI a “challenge.” I’m sure it’s fine to call it whatever one likes, but I much prefer a term I’ve learned from my bookfriends on GoodReads–a “group read.” To me, that implies better what I think these projects intend: to get people agreeing to read something as a group so they can then talk about it. So fun and friendly.

“So why aren’t you participating in any of these group reads, RR?” would be a reasonable question to ask, at least lately. It’s true–I love book conversations and though I’m not the fastest reader, I’m fast enough to read a book purely for the sake of participating in a conversation. I used to quite often. But I can’t quite get committed lately. Maybe it was the demanding, structured reading in grad school that’s put me off. Maybe it was a few book-club related incidents–a club-wide insistance on reading “challenging” books that weren’t “too easy” or “light”…which ended with me miserably hauling myself through a couple books that no one else liked, or indeed, bothered to read.

I think these sorts of group reads a project like Kerry’s, or in fact Canada Reads itself, seems very fun indeed–as warm an invitation to conversation as one could hope for. I love the idea of a group of people focusing their reading so they can share it. All I can say is I really hope to get it together for next year.

Meantime, I’m trying one of the less-structured options of group reads, one where participants don’t read the same book but engage in the same kind of reading and then share thoughts on that. One that appeals (because I was already sort of doing it privately) is a retro-reading challenge. Rereading has been a hot topic on The Literary Type lately, and now over at Free-range Reading, Mark suggests the Retro Reading Challenge. Ok, fine, it’s got the word “challenge” in it, but it still seems pretty fun and friendly to me:

“So here’s the idea, which I’m calling the Retro Reading Challenge, and I hope you all will play along. The idea is to pick a book that you read and adored years and years ago, then reread it now and write a review of it to capture your impressions. Did you still love it? Did you see flaws (or strengths) that you missed the first time? Did you have an “Oh God, what the hell was I thinking?” moment?”

I might not quite be able to comply with all the rules–the book needs to have been something I read only once, at least 15 years ago–but I *might* have Mostly Harmless only once, in my early teens–it wasn’t in the giant omnibus that I owned as a kid, since it didn’t come out until 1992. And it’s way darker than the others, so it’s conceivable it wasn’t on my reread list. And it fits in nicely with my don’t judge Eoin Kolfer too harshly project, which has been going on since fall (I’m halfway through *So Long and Thanks for All the Fish* right now, if you’re curious) and will end when I read *And Another Thing* and try not to hate it for not being written by Douglas Adams.

SO! Rambling aborted, I will read *Mostly Harmless* and review it as part of the Retro Reading project. Yes. This is my plan. Baby steps.

RR

February 17th, 2010

Things I Like Today

1) Spencer Gordon’s short story Transcript: Appeal of the Sentence on Joyland (although I did actually like it even more when he read it at Pivot at the Press Club readings–this story should be a podcast!)

2) The lovely new home of Kerry Clare’s book site/blog, Pickle Me This, as designed by the crack team at Create Me This.

3) When you are standing looking up into the sky (you need a patch of sky free of buildings or bits of trees, so that all you see is sky) and it is snowing staight down and after you stare up for a while, you lose perspective and begin to feel that the snowflakes are standing still in the air, and you are travelling upwards into the sky. The snow today has been particularly good for that, if you wanna try it.

RR

December 7th, 2009

For Your Information

1) The Fantastic Mr. Fox is pure unadulterated joy. Go if you like animated movies, film technology, Wes Anderson, or subtly weird humour. I think go if you like Roald Dahl, but I haven’t actually read the book on which the film is based (don’t start with me) so I can’t say for certain. That link above is the Rotten Tomatoes Top Critics page–the film got 100% tomatoes (that’s good, yo!) Also, I’m still slightly nauseated from laughing so hard. “I see…a fox on a motorcycle…with a slightly littler fox in the sidecar, along with what might be an opossum-type creature…this mean anything to anyone?” See it even if you are not or do not possess children–this film has enough layers for anyone.

2) Did you know Facebook has friend-spam? You get these friend requests from randos and then if you do it, they just send you ads and things. Well, they do, and this is why I never respond to FB friend-requests from people whose names I don’t recognize and who don’t send a note. If, however, some nice friendly blog reader thought it’d be fun to be my FB friend, I would totally endorse that. So, if you happen to be one of several people I don’t know who friended me in the past couple days, but are not a spammer or a stalker, please send me a note to that effect and friends we shall be.

3) I am listed as one of the judges for the University of Toronto Alumni Writing Contest, story division. I’m thrilled to be associated with the amazing stories that won, as well as the energy in the UofT Magazine office that got it together, and my groovy fellow judges.

However, a wee disclaimer here, as you might have noted that a very dear friend of mine won. So you should know that another judge read “Georgia Coffee Star” in the first round, and when it appeared on my list in the 2nd, I made arrangements to recuse myself in further rounds. Which wound up being a sort of fascinating experience, as the rest of the committee made exactly the decisions I would have made, for rather different reasons. Everything I do with short stories teaches me something.

Anyway, I’m so pleased for Kerry’s winning story–go read!

RR

November 29th, 2009

Danforth Review Links Updates

As many of you are no doubt aware, the wonderful online litmag The Danforth Review ceased publication this past summer. This is sad, but understandable–editor Michael Bryson has been wildly generous with his time and has many other projects, including a new book.

Some comfort is also available in the fact that all the past issues of TDR were archived and are still available to be read. I, tech wizard that I am, didn’t really understand how the archiving system worked, which is why all the TDR links at right have been broken for the past few months, until today!! (thanks, Mark!) So, though I doubt many people have been clamouring for them, you can now read the review of my book, interview with me and short story of mine published on TDF at various times in the past three years. Along with tonnes of other good stuff!

RR

November 17th, 2009

Meantime

I have mired myself in a complicated post that I can’t finish nor even understand the previous drafts of, so for now, I’m a little content poor. But don’t worry, I’m gonna work it out.

Meantime, why don’t you go listen The Burning Hell (if you’re feeling goofy and macabre) or Dave Pomfret (if you’re feeling a bit mellow, a bit bouncy, with a bit of a twang). You could always check out this database of Hamilton writers (yes, I’m in there–whoo-hoo!)

Or you could entertain yourself. It’s sort of sunny outside. Maybe you should just go frolic?

RR

September 18th, 2009

Suggestions

There is *so much* going on of late that is awesome that the only way I can imagine anyone going wrong is if they were to sit home in the dark and not read anything. But if you are looking for suggestions…

1) Leon Rooke!! Everyone thing the man does is astounding, but specifically:

a. His new book, The Last Shot, promises to be thrilling. I have to admit I haven’t opened it yet, as I only attended the warm and wonderous launch last night, but such was the buzz in the room that I’m pretty sure I’m right about this.

b. His festival, The Eden Mills Writers’ Festival, which Leon and his late wife Connie started over 20 years ago, and which continues to surprise and delight and extremely talented authors to read there. This Sunday afternoon, by the river outside Guelph. I’m bringing muffins, a sitting-on-the-ground blanket, and book-buying funds–see you there?

c. His art exhibit, Peculiar Practices, at the The Bookshelf in Guelph, which runs until this Sunday. I have no idea what to expect, but am excited anyway!

2) If for some reason you can’t be in the Guelph/Eden Mills regions but you can be in the Sharon region, maybe try the Words Alive Festival in Sharon, Ontario, also with a bevy of talented readers, and (I’m told) a beautiful setting… If I weren’t already booked!

3) In preparation for hearing her read at the aforementioned Eden Mills, I have been joyously reading Saleema Nawaz’s beautiful story collection Mother Superior. I’m only halfway, and still have no idea what the cover art means, but I already know that this is one of the best new books I’ve read in a while.

4) Online: Alex Boyd has a new blog, Kathrine Nabity is doing a wonderful history of how she wrote and published her first novel, and *I* have an author page on GoodReads!!

5) I’ll be reading in Ottawa on October 17, 5pm, at the Manx Pub as part of the Plan 99 reading series. I am very excited.

6) You can go read some good stories at the University of Toronto alumni Short Story contest readers’ choice site. If you are yourself an alumnus, you can even vote for your favourite. (completely equitable hint)

I am very excited about everything in the universe right now, except that it is cold out and I am not feeling well. So, thank goodness for literature! As usual!

Precious precious precious
RR

August 5th, 2009

Sad happy

Tomorrow is the last offical “sighting” post over at Seen Reading, and today is the last sighting by the brilliant SR founder and all-around lovely writer/human Julie Wilson. It’s a lovely post and no doubt there will be much more to read in future from JW, so we need not be too sad. The posts so far this week, from Ami McKay and Saleema Nawaz have been wonderful also, as usual; check back tomorrow for the very final post from Monique Trottier.

Still a little sad? Yeah, me too. Maybe this will cheer you up. It’s pretty outstanding (thanks to Mark for sharing this!)

Find a handsome young maid for you to love
RR

July 14th, 2009

Social Networking, So Much

Before the Rose-coloured blog, before the Facebook obsession and the fear of MySpace, before socializing went virtual, there was the Bureau of People We Know. Well, there was insofar as a thing that had no form or substance but simply got talked about a lot (mainly by me) can be said to have existed. In fact, even before that, there was the chorus of the children’s song The More We Get Together, which encouraged you to think of my friends as your friends.

That was really the basis of the BPWK, as I have always wanted to meet my friends’ friends, especially around the time I graduated undergrad, and my little circle exploded into different cities and careers and circles, doing all kinds of fascinating things far away where I couldn’t see them. So whatever city someone ended up in, I’d name them head of that city’s office of the BPWK, their only duty really being to hang out with me when I came to town, maybe introduce me to their other friends, and perhaps hang out with some other friends of mine if they found themselves in the same city.

This was not social networking in the Penelope Trunk sense, where you look for useful people, befriend them and then hope they’ll do things for you. My central goal was for no one to ever be bored or lonely in a strange city and to meet as many cool people as possible (and in those senses, I am personally living the dream, at least).

And for the same reason (well, more the meeting cool people part), I am very fond of blogs and Facebook. I often meet someone once at a party, have a charming conversation, and wonder how I’ll be able to have another charming conversation with that person without seeming a) like I’m hitting on him/her, b) a potential stalker, and c) socially lame. Facebook offered the answer, a way to get to know a *little* about people who seem cool, and to interact a *bit*, to the point where you might be able to “take it live” and have coffee in a real actual place.

And that makes me very happy. It also makes me happy that I can invite these new friends to parties and readings and be invited to theirs, that they can see my other friends and what we’re all up to, and maybe the Bureau of People We Know will enlarge even further.

Social networking websites are not a substitution for personal interaction; they are a method of interacting, albeit in a minor, low-committment way. Which can be a conduit to lots of other things, or just a long-term happy acquaintanceship. Both are good things.

So yay Facebook, yay blog! I never joined MySpace because I thought you needed to have a band, and I never joined Twitter because I thought you needed to have a cellphone… Obviously, I know they’ll let you *on* either platform without guitars or a flipphone, but I figured there’s be no point; I’m not who it’s for. Then a shadowy man told me I could synch my Facebook updates with Twitter, if only I were on Twitter. \

So now I’m on Twitter. Such is my love of FB that the hours in the day when, erm, technical difficulties make updating impossible are sad for me. So now, FB tweeting all the time.

And the bonus, of course, is that I’ll get to see who is on Twitter. Besides Wren and Fred and Mel, of course, who are my friends across all platforms, aside from being original members of the BPWK.

Not sick of me yet? Let’s be Twitter friends! Or you can just scroll way down on the right side of this blog and see my none-too-fascinating tweets.

Sweet Alexis / is eating fingernails for breakfast
RR

July 9th, 2009

Life

This morning, as I planned this post, it was going to be titled “Life is Good”, because:

1) the Joyland Joyathon last night was so amazing and fun and funny and well-attended by awesome people (most of the pictures turned out terrible, due to failures of both technology and technician [though they are still available on Facebook, if you feel the need], but here’s a decent one of Brian Joseph Davis and Emily Schultz kicking off the festivities:

2) I’m heading to pretty Kingston for the weekend.

3) When I took out the recycling this morning, my eye happened to be drawn to the far end of the alley, where I had never looked before (this is sad, sad, sad, considering how long I’ve lived in this building and that I’m supposed to have “an eye for detail”) and found…a raspberry bush in full fruit! In the alley! I ate several, just to prove to myself I could–delicious!
But then I check out the internet, and found that in the next couple months, Toronto (and the world) will be losing both Pages Bookstore and Seen Reading. All involved will continue to work wonders with books and words in our city (and the world), but this will be a big change for us all, and take some getting used to.

So, yes, life is good, but it’s also life, and we struggle to keep up as best we can. Onward. I’ll be back in a couple days, with tales of jails and ghosts and Greek food, we hope.

I’ve been an irresponsible son
RR

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