Monday, April 24, 2017

Prince Edward County Authors Festival

Just got home from Prince Edward County and boy is my liver tired! Just kidding, drinking makes me sleepy and gives me reflux. Although I did try a wonderful Waupoos cider this weekend. It was dry and effervescent. Just like me on the microphone! At the Prince Edward County Authors Festival! haha

It's rare that debut authors from small presses get invited to these things, so how cool is this festival to include me? It takes place in Picton, Prince Edward County, an area known for its food, wineries and stunning waterfront. Oh, and paintball tournaments in abandoned military insane asylums. The festival is hosted by the beautiful and sprawling Books & Company, which is my dream bookstore. Not only do they have Canadian authors' books prominently displayed, but they also sell puzzles! AND! Attached to it is a café that serves my favourite coffee! AND! Upstairs there's an event space they use for readings and music and art! (There's also a cat who lords over the whole place and is generous with her indifference.) It's the ultimate community hub!

It was in this upstairs space where the Authors Fest was held. I had a grand time on the fiction panel with Zoe Whittall and Kirsten MacLeod who read beautifully from their books. A nice crowd showed up and we had these comfy wingback chairs to sit in and podiums to read from (I cannot emphasise enough how much nicer it is to read aloud when you have something to lean on). Later in the day I heard Joy Fielding and Steve Burrows read and talk about writing mysteries/thrillers. They were both so entertaining. Joy is now my writer hero. Oh to be that cool, confident and laser-focused! After her read, I cornered Joy for some valuable advice on how to build suspense. (Any time I get the opportunity to pick the brain of a NYT bestseller, you better believe I'll take it.)

Thanks to: David Sweet for moderating and organising. Marlene for all your work in getting me there. Anthony, Alana and Atalay for comin' with and asking questions! Jerry for coming and giving great tips on the area. Paula who was so nice to chat with. And, of course, the whole team at the Prince Edward County Authors Festival for having me. I'll definitely be back.

Me and Atalay checking out the salmon(!) swimming up-creek at the
Drake Devonshire -- an A+ place in nearby Wellington for
brunch/ping pong/hipsters. (Even the salmon have man-buns.)


Me making love to the microphone. (And yes, I keep my eyes closed.)
Also pictured are the very smart/talented Kirsten MacLeod and Zoe Whittall.



Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Daily Mail and a big ol' zit

I was going to film and post a *hot writing tip* video today, but I have a big ol' zit so it'll have to wait. Until then, please enjoy my favourite Radiohead song (from 2011!?) that I cannot believe I did not know about until last week! It's become the official/unofficial soundtrack of my second book. It also best represents my lifestyle these days -- syncopated and full of unintelligible gibberish.




Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Controversy!


I was hunting for reviews of The Weather Inside, as I do because I am a pitiful lech, and came across this anonymous 1-star on Amazon.ca: 
"I bought this book because I am an ex JW and I thought it would be interesting. Well I only made it about a quarter of the way through. While the author knows the basics about how JW's work, she doesn't know how they talk , comport themselves or how the meetings and assemblies are.Rule number one for authors is "write what you know"!I want my money back."
It's the first bad review I've received, at least publicly. (My dad didn't like my book either.) Anyways, to protect what I know to be true about my work and my integrity, I replied. 
"So sorry you didn't like the book, Amazon Customer. I pride myself on the great care I took with research, which I spent years doing. I read books, poured over the Watchtower web site, went to a meeting, took virtual tours of the printing facilities, spoke with and interviewed Witnesses (both active and ex), quoted from JW materials heavily, used the exact script from an assembly, and reflected the experiences of many ex-JWs in support groups. This novel certainly reflected all of that research, as well as my own experience with religious alienation. I can't give you your money back because I am a broke writer. But good news! You have the power to tell everyone how much you hated it! That's the beauty of free speech! Which is the same freedom that allows me to write about whatever I want, as long as it's responsibly and meticulously researched, and, above all, empathetic to my characters and their emotional experiences. Thanks for your feedback, though, Amazon Customer. And I mean that sincerely. I'm sure you've gone through an intense journey with the religion yourself. Maybe there's even a book in you about it. I'd read it."
This assertion that you "write what you know" is tired. When people say it, they usually mean "write what you've lived." Beyond that, what many of them probably mean is: "Hey you! Write what I have lived." Well I'm here to let you in on a little secret: Books would suck if we authors wrote only what we "know." Doing so would, in fact, put an end to whole genres: historical, fantasy, sci-fi, dinosaur erotica, etc. 

I knew that I opened myself up to critique by writing about a specific religion -- that's why I researched so hardcore. And I stand behind that research and my book 100%. Through research, I did write what I knew when I wrote The Weather Inside. It's too bad it doesn't jive with this person's personal experience. Of course I would love it if every former Witness saw themselves in this story. But that's impossible. As impossible as finding love with a T-Rex. So I'll take that 1 star and wear it with pride.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

In Her Voice

I truly enjoyed myself at the inaugural In Her Voice event held by Ben McNally Books on Monday. The audience asked some top-notch questions, which makes for a fun night. Here's me answering one of those smart questions... or asking for directions to the bathroom. I can't remember.


That's Emma Richler next to me. This was her night! For her book! Be My Wolff! Thanks to Emma, Random House, and Danielle, Rupert and Ben McNally for having me. Oh! And if you want to know more about Emma, check out this interview in The Walrus.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

All Lit Up (like literally in flames)

A members-only racket club caught fire in my neighbourhood this morning. Once I learned that everyone got out safe, the whole scene became very exciting. I inhaled toxic fumes! I saw a lady firefighter! And the local news helicopters have been buzzing around for hours! By the way, how the hell can the local news afford helicopters? I don't know a single person who watches the local news.

Speaking of fires, since I won't be blogging much from now until February 2018 because of a self-imposed, self-flagellating novel-writing schedule, I thought I'd go up in flames by "ending" on the most personal note I could with this essay I wrote for All Lit Up. Feedback to date includes "It gives me all the feels!" and "Um, I think you need to see a therapist." So it's like ten blog posts in one!

If you haven't heard of it, I'm happy to introduce you to All Lit Up, an organization that creatively, generously and enthusiastically helps independent Canadian publishers spread the word about their books and authors. Check out their web site and discover a new favorite author or indie press. Oh! And today, Valentine's Day, they put up a very funny infographic book matchmaker.

I'll still be blogging now and then during this period, mostly easy-bake stuff like upcoming events and mini reviews of books I'm obsessing over. (Speaking of, check out this review for the brilliant Deborah Willis's new short story collection.) But I'll basically be in hibernation, conserving my energy for the long hard winter that is novel two. So this is me saying laterz before I burrow into my cave, live off my fat stores, and reduce my metabolic rate and skeletal muscle mass by forty-five percent.


Friday, February 10, 2017

Meet my new best friend, Samantha

The future was always going to be creepy. Pill food, clones, alien colonization, Katy Perry as President of the United States....

Two days ago, I stepped into this future when I turned on the text-to-speech application on my Mac. Tired of reading my new tv script aloud myself -- and also horribly lonely -- I opted for the soothing robot voice of my new best friend "Samantha." And she did not disappoint. Not only did Samantha help me edit my dialogue, but she gave me a new recurring nightmare to look forward to.




As a best friend Samantha is just so-so. She talked back with sass, which I love, but she can't braid hair for shit. As an actress, she middled-out too. Samantha impressed when it came to the upward inflections needed for questions, but paused too long after and before commas and didn't pause long enough between lines. Also, she spelled out "hmphs" and "ums", which is a rookie mistake. On the whole, though, she did not fare too badly. That "Neighhh!" was Robot-Oscar worthy.

But actors do not fear: you've got at least five years until you'll be fully replaced. Don't feel bad. Novelists have already been replaced by Kardashians, and Presidents have been replaced by human garbage cans. We're all in this future together.