Sunday, January 15, 2017

Top 10 reads of 2016

This list is a bit late, but I was in New Zealand for a while cavorting in caves and chasing dolphins so the normal rules didn't apply. Belated as it may be, here are the 10 best novels I read in 2016, in no particular order:

1. Sad Peninsula by Mark Sampson
2. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
3. The Last Samurai by Helen Dewitt
4. The Performance by Ann Ericksson
5. You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
6. The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan
7. Teardown by Clea Young
8. The Captain of Kinnoull Hill by Jamie Tennant
9. The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
10. Problems by Jade Sharma
** I also LOVED Fishbowl by Bradley Somer. A remarkable, beautiful, funny novel. I was nervous about including his book here since he blurbed mine. Conflict of interest and all that. But then I remembered, this is my list! I can do whatever I want! And I got all power-hungry. Anyways, you really need to read Fishbowl is what I'm saying.

This year was a big one for my own book too. It came out! And, despite my lack of luck with prize nomination committees, I reached a bunch of goals I'd set for myself: Read at IFOA, get on a plane for my book, get a couple good reviews in mainstream sources, do a fun Q&A interview. I’m grateful for all the support I received from everyone, especially Freehand Books, and my family and friends. Thank you! Thank you a million times over! I also feel quite lucky for the two reviews I got from Quill & Quire and The Winnipeg Free Press. Hopefully some more to come. But honestly, I have no idea what happens when a new year begins. Does the bookish press simply ignore the 2016 titles they didn't get to?

As for what's to come in 2017.... As a writer, I’ll be working on my next book whole hog. I have no idea if this book will succeed in terms of my actual creative output or a publishing contract, but there’s only one way to find out...

As a reader, there is so much to look forward to this year! The brilliant Rebecca Rosenblum, Deborah Willis and Mark Sampson have books coming out! I’m also excited to dig into Breath by Tim Winton, The Wonder by Emma Donoghue, All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai, The Strays by Emily Bitto and and and.

As usual, I'll be ranting and raving about all these things on this blog. Until then, here’s some photos from my New Zealand trip. They have nothing to do with writing but like I said I'm power-hungry so...

The Remarkables in beautiful, breezy, tourist-overrun Queenstown. 

Black swans in a crystal clear river in Rotorua.

The tiny bananas were delicious!

My sister got married on the beach, as it turned out!
Boy was I overdressed!

Dolphins! Hurrah!

My Kiwi nephew steering my Canadian husband. Keep left, Anthony!!

Some mountains en route to Milford Sound. Also pictured: most of my face.

Redwoods meet Anthony's red shirt in Rotorua.
Scary beautiful cave adventures in Waitomo.
PS - wet suits are not as slimming as one would hope.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Rainy-day writing perch

View of the ocean from my writing spot in Nelson, New Zealand. (It's okay to hate me.)

Friday, December 9, 2016

Get Lit

I had such fun with Jamie Tennant on his radio show "Get Lit" the other day. You can give it a listen on Sound Cloud here:

“Get Lit” with Jamie Tennant (93.3 CFMU – Sound Cloud)

Be sure to check out Episode 1 and 2 for his interviews with Giller nominee Gary Barwin and Giller winner Madeleine Thien as well. Jamie is a wonderful literary interviewer for many reasons, the most obvious being: he's an author too. He wrote a pretty darn unforgettable novel about music, starting over, Scotland, magic and asshole-rehabilitation that came out this fall, The Captain of Kinnoull Hill. I can't remember laughing out loud while reading a book as often as I did here. Jamie has a gift for humour, but more than that, he's a very talented, empathetic writer. Lots of emotional depth and complexity, and skilled use of language, here. And the surprises! So many wild, wonderful, horrible things happen! I had no idea where Jamie was taking me, and I loved the whole trip!

Thanks for writing this wonderful book, Jamie. And thanks for having me on your show.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

My favourite novella eva

I am so excited for Corrado Paina, my friend and former boss. He has written a truly brilliant, hilarious and heartwarming novella, Between Rothko and 3 Windows. Translated from the original Italian by Damiano Pietropaolo, Corrado’s essential perspective on the Italian “immigrant experience” is unlike any I have ever read. He’ll probably hate me for using that phrase, “immigrant experience.” He’s probably rolling his eyes and swearing as he reads this. But dammit, Corrado, I am not a poet like you! 

Of course, Between Rothko and 3 Windows is so much more than a novella about an Italian immigrant in Canada. Pick it up if you’re looking for a book that: 
  • Brings the city of Toronto alive; makes you nod and sigh and smile at the places/faces you know
  • Spins the CanLit immigrant archetypes on their heads
  • Makes you laugh
  • Is written by a brilliant, original man who infuses poetry into everyday life
  • Muses on art, culture, racism, making a living at a dying newspaper, the pressure of community, of conforming, of family, fatherhood, health, aging… 
And never mind all that. If you just want to read a twisty-turny murder-mystery… THIS IS THAT BOOK TOO.

If Between Rothko and 3 Windows doesn’t win the Toronto Book Award, I will eat my hat.

For more on this novel, visit Quattro Books here.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A little help from my friends

Anne made signs! How cute is she?

Unless you have connections, it's challenging to get the word out about a first novel. My publisher has been exceptional -- going above and beyond to get my novel noticed. But it's tough out there. Especially in the fall when I'm up against the biggest U.S. and UK books, and the Canadian prize winners. I've been trying a few things on my end. Tweeting, blogging, shaking hands, attending festivals, doing readings, etc. Some attempts have worked better than others. At a book party in September, for example, I worked up the nerve to initiate a conversation with a big name in Canadian publishing -- only to get shot down. It was a classic humiliation. He turned, gave me a "you are a Zero" stare, and promptly introduced me to the lonely expanse of the back of his plaid shirt.

So it's a grand understatement to say that I've been grateful for the support I have received. Whether it's posting book reviews online, showing up en masse for my book launch, buying more copies than they need, displaying copies at their desks, or writing letters of recommendation for my various pipe dreams, my friends and family have been behind me 100%.

A week ago, one of these supportive humans did a wonderfully generous thing: She threw a book party for me. It wasn’t a book club so much as a night with a bunch of smart, well-read women who value books, yes, but who value supporting each other even more.

I did a brief, nervous reading, answered some questions and sold a bunch of books! Then, as the party wrapped and I hoovered the crackers and hummus, us stragglers sat around and gabbed and drank and laughed. Oh! And I got to pet a dog!!

Thank you for opening your home to me and my novel, Anne. It was a perfect night. And thanks to all of my other friends, family and blog readers who've been supporting me and my little book. I'm lucky to have you. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Goodreads giveaway!

Want a free copy of my book, The Weather Inside? The Goodreads giveaway is live until December 7. Check out the link here and tell your friends! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

We've been incubating....

When I'm not writing book(s), watching Vanderpump Rules, snacking, or trolling you on Instagram, I'm writing screenplays. This year, I was lucky enough to take part in Women On Screen's incubator. To mark the end of the program, we're having a showcase on December 11. It'll be such fun; you should come if you can. Here's some more details...

2016 Web Series Incubator Final Showcase

This year, eight female-identifying screenwriters were chosen to take part in the incubator, developing their web series pilots with such exceptional mentors as Amy Cameron (Mary Kills People), Jessie Gabe (Mr. D), Samantha Wan (Second Jen), Stephanie Kaliner (Schitt's Creek), Melissa D'Agostino (Tactical Girls), Mackenzie Donaldson (Orphan Black), etc.

On Sunday, December 11th at The Garrison, come see live readings of excerpts from these pilots, performed by some of the most talented actors Toronto has to offer. Entry is PWYC (suggested donation of $10) and there will be complimentary snacks and a cash bar.

Even more details here: