Monday, November 21, 2011

Grant getting: how fair is it?

On September 1, I applied for a Writers' Reserve grant from the Ontario Arts Council. Well, in actuality, I applied for seven grants from seven small presses via the Writers' Reserve. The grant is extra special, in my eyes, because of the involvement of small presses. I mean, wow. If you apply for this grant (and choose wisely) you have a 100% chance of having your work read by the editors at the House of Anansi -- one of the best publishers in Canada! It doesn't get much better than that.

Here's what's less wow about the Writers' Reserve: the application process is not anonymous. I thought twice about this when I applied (I even joked about it), but I've been thinking about it much more lately.

I got my first rejection from one of the recommenders, Quattro Books, a few weeks ago. The rejection itself is not the issue -- you all know I'm used to those. Rather, it's the timing that has left me troubled. The deadline for this grant is January 31, 2012, which means that Quattro Books had several more months to make the decision and more importantly, probably 100 more incoming applications to weigh against mine.

Several explanations for Quattro's rejection are possible: 1) My application sucked; 2) Quattro's editors are psychic and knew that all future applicants would outshine mine; 3) My application didn't suck, but just wasn't up Quattro's alley or 4) Something else is going on.

Before I get into #4, I have to say that I am a fan of the OAC and all it does to support authors. I've even been lucky enough to receive one of their grants in the past. But I do, however, have an issue with the lack of anonymity in the Writers' Reserve and the fact that the grant seems to have been designed so that small presses can award their own authors grant money. From the FAQs:

"Do I have to have a publishing contract with a recommender I am applying to?
No. Each recommender must use at least 30% of its allocation for writers it does not intend to publish; generally over 70% of the funding is awarded to writers who do not have publishing contracts with their recommenders."

Again, I harbor no hurt feelings towards Quattro Books or the OAC. But the timing of the rejection and the statement above do leave me wondering a few things: 1) Does the OAC hold the small presses accountable for this 30% rule? and 2) Why isn't the Writers' Reserve anonymous when the OAC's other literature grant, the Writers' Works in Progress, is?

Just my thoughts. Now talk amongst yourselves.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

The new stuff I like right this second

I'm listening to the new album from Coeur de Pirate, an insanely melodic/romantic Francophone singer-songwriter from Montreal. That's her picture up there. Isn't she cool? She's so cool, right? I want to be a skinny French-Canadian artist with tattoos so bad! Anyways, I'm obsessed with her song "Place de la Republique" at the moment. It's smooth like butter, and I'm vegan so I don't just banty about dairy analogies willy nilly. Her music is especially wonderful to write to for some reason. (Probably because I don't understand a lot of her lyrics.) Gorg, I say. GORG.

If you have 15 minutes, read this excerpt. It's by Elly Zupko, a writer I've cooed about before on this blog. I don't know this person at all. I stumbled upon her stuff through Twitter one day and had the pleasure of reading one of her brilliant short stories. She's good. Like, good good. Like, I-hate-her-so-much good. Normally, I'm not a fan of the genre her novel would be boxed into, but the writing is fab enough that genre doesn't matter. She defies genre, people! The characters, the setting, everything. I can't believe she has to publish this book herself. I mean, WTF?

In other "new writer" news, I went to a reading this weekend at the Toronto Women's Bookstore and it was excellent. I heard works by three talented and very different writers: Lisa de Nikolits (West of Wawa), Dawn Promislow (Jewels and Other Stories) and Danila Botha (Got No Secrets). Some serious skillz here -- and all of it imported from South Africa. I love it when Canada steals awesome people away from their homelands. It's so bad-ass of us.

I'm really feeling the horror genre these days. Especially when the horror at hand has some real depth to it. I have American Horror Story to thank for this new interest of mine. The show is wildly scary and weird, and it lights up parts of my brain that don't get out to play much anymore. I love falling in love with a new genre -- I find it really inspiring for my own writing.

The New Girl is also awesome. "Adorkable" is how the show describes itself and I have to agree. It's very silly and pee-your-pants funny, so basically it's the opposite of American Horror Story. I like to watch it after AHS, actually. It helps me forget about the monsters under my bed and the jars of haunted fetuses in my basement.

What stuff do you like this second? Does any of it inspire your own writing?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Kardashian-Humphries Story (Get it? It's SHORT!)

I'm a bit sleepy today after spending all night crying over the Kardashian-Humphries divorce. Oh, and also because I was finishing a new short story. (As short as Kim's marriage? You betcha!) The CBC's Canada Writes: Short Story Contest deadline was 11:59pm last night and I just made it, hitting the submit button at around 11:30pm. I wasn't planning on entering since the word count is so low (max of 1500) and since I loathe paying to enter contests -- it just reeks of that distinguished poetry anthology I was SO stoked about getting into in grade six. But, since I'm basically still in grade six (see title of blog post), the prospect of being published sucked me in again and I found myself forking over some cash and throwing my story into the ring.

And, of course, since I was rushing to finish last night, I found a typo this morning. Derg! Basically, I have a couple days to make a "bathing bikini" an actual thing. Dear fashion writer friends: if you could spread the word about how "summer 2012 is going to be all about the bathing bikini," you'd really be doing me a solid.

As for the other short story I recently blogged about, I finally found a journal that could be a good fit: PRISM. They run a few contests every year, including a short fiction contest, so I think I'll give it a go. Thanks to Trena for pointing me in PRISM's direction.