October 28th, 2013
I’m using up all my good news in one burst–another story, and possibly my last of the year, out this weekend–”Loneliness” is in the Fall issue of Compose Journal, which is online now for your enjoyment. “Loneliness” is actually a reprint of a story that originally appeared in The Big Dream, but never did get published as a stand-alone story, so I’m really happy it’s in Compose. If you’ve never read it, maybe take a look! There’s tonnes of other great stuff in the issue, too!
I also wrote a blog post about the origins of this story and, more interesting, what happened to it after I wrote it…that will be posted soon on the Compose blog, too!
September 8th, 2013
I’m pleased to say that my story Ms. Universe is now posted on Joyland for your reading pleasure. This is one of my weirder pieces and I was so worried I wouldn’t find a home for it–very grateful to Emily M. Keeler and Brian Joseph Davis for liking it and publishing it. If you read it, I’d love to know what you think!
August 19th, 2013
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 12th, 2013
This blog has been a bit quiet of late, and when I do post it tends to be vacation anecdotes or random rants, but here at last is a post with some actual literary news…
First off, in the ongoing adventures of the short film How to Keep Your Day Job, now a nomination for best short film at the Directors’ Guild of Canada Awards. I guess you can watch this space at the end of October to see who won, but it’s just so great to see the amazing cast and crew of the film getting some recognition!
In terms of my own literary accomplishments, my short story “Marriage” has been accepted for an upcoming issue of The New Quarterly. Longtime readers will know I have a long love of The New Quarterly and am thrilled that they like this story. Can’t wait to see it in their pages.
And finally, Monday of this week, I did a fun 75 minute class with Professor Rawding’s literature students at University of Waterloo. They’d read a dozen stories out of The Big Dream, then thought about their reactions and made lists of questions by theme. Each group took a turn asking questions–yes, I did over an hour of Q&A with people who a) knew their stuff (no softball “so do you write with a pen or on a keyboard?” questions) and b) had not chosen the book themselves and did not necessarily like it.
It was *intense* to say the least, but also thrilling–the best compliment is a careful reading, I say. And honestly, no writer worth his/her salt ever believes anyone who says “Great book!” and leaves it at that. But the thorough, insightful questions from these students made me feel truly flattered that the book inspired them. I hope my answers were as good (or nearly).
Here’s a picture with me and the class. I am slouching because I was worried about blocking the kids behind me, who were actually way higher so I just look odd. Professor Rawding’s on the left in the green check shirt.
And finally, a photo of me with the professor’s cat (of course!)
May 14th, 2013
2013 has been quiet so far on the readings and publications fronts–up until last week, I’d done neither at all this year–it’s all been working and writing and editing and being stressed, the sort of thing that doesn’t do well on stage or in print. I think last week’s Windsor Review would’ve been sufficient to bolster me for a while, but of course it never rains but it pours. After 5 months of silence, two stories in the world within a week is weird, but not undelightful.
My story “Love-Story Story” is just out in the May/June issue of This Magazine, which I’m so pleased about. That story was a long time in process, and longer looking for the right home so I’m grateful to Dani Couture for giving it such an estimable one. To celebrate, I think I’ll read an excerpt from the story at Racket at the Rocket on Friday night.
The Racket is a new east-side reading series. Their website hasn’t been update, but here’s the details if you think you might like to join me and Mark Sampson, among other stellar writers, for an evening of literature and cookies (the Red Rocket cafe, which hosts, has nice baked items in addition to beer, wine, and caffeinated things). I’ve stolen these details from Mark…
When: Friday, May 17, 2013. 7:30 p.m.
Where: Red Rocket Coffee – 1364 Danforth Ave (near Greenwood Subway Station), Toronto.
And of course, this comes on the heels of another reading/panel discussion, which I did earlier yesterday–no readings for 6 months, then two in a week. Go figure. Anyway, it was fun and credit should be given to my lovely co-panellists–Christine Gilbert, Monica S. Kuebler, and Claire Horsnell.
January 21st, 2013
Despite the overwhelming tidal wave of job-related work I’ve been doing, there’s been some writing-related stuff going on too. Here’s some highlights if you’ve missed me:
–my story, “Anxiety Attack” is in the current issue of Freefall Magazine, which is delightful news. My contributer’s copy is currently winging its way towards me but if you spot a copy in the wild I’d love to know how it looks–awesome, I bet.
–an article I wrote, “When Your Culture Is Counter-culture” is now live on the website Offbeat Bride. A new year’s resolution I don’t think I’ve mentioned here yet is to do more of this sort of lifestyle writing and service journalism, and actually try to get it published in places other than on this blog, where it doesn’t really belong. Literary journalism and criticism, as you know, give me hives, and even when I manage, through much struggle and editing, to make something decent, I’m still miserable. The above article, an advice-y chatty piece about my wedding and what others might learn from it, filled me with delight while writing it and I’m so happy reading the few comments its garnered so far. Next to fiction, this sort of thing is my favourite to read and write, so I think I should pursue it. If you know a website I should be submitting to, please let me know!
–I’ll be reading at Racket at the Rocket, organized by Open Minds Toronto on May 17, sharing the stage with my beloved husband. Yes, we’re just that cute.
–And finally, my story “Love-Story Story” will be published in the next issue of This Magazine. If you’ve not read my fiction, or only my second book, this won’t mean anything to you, but LSS is an Isobel story–a character that appeared in 2 stories in Once as well as “I Have Never Loved You Less” in Road Trips, and half a dozen other stories in various places. I’m always happy to see her and write about her–I do hope you enjoy the story.
October 14th, 2012
I’m the worst when it comes to cat obsession–I’ve already spent far too much time and bored far too many people talking about my kitty, Evan. I even have YouTube channel for my cat videos–including a new one that finally offers proof that Evan knows how to fetch
Ta da! And that great echoing silence is the sound of no one clicking on the link. Which is fine. Cats are my one pure indulgence, the one part of my life I don’t have to analyze or think about with a subtle critical eye. I just enjoy them and all their fuzzy silliness.
And it’s only going to get worse, because on Friday we got kitty number 2, Alice Sampsonblum. Isn’t she pretty? (I can’t explain what’s going on with my hair, here).
So it’s basically a personal problem and pleasure, cats, that has somehow crept onto this never-really-professional blog. But I *have* started taking a professional interest in cats, professional in the sense I write stories about them (though actually, I think kitten shepherd would be a great job for me).
From the earliest-written story in the book that became *Once*, I’ve always had cats around the margins in my work. Why? No reason except that I’ve always had cats around the margins of my life–when I imagine a world, it has cats in it. When a Famous Writer reviewed a story of mine for a class, all she had to say was it was interesting that an adult woman’s close friend would turn out to be her brother. I did not think that was interesting and wished she had said something substantive about the story, but it’s true–many of my characters have brothers, at least in my head if not on the page. Because that’s just my reality–my default position for the human race is to have a brother and a cat. Write what you know is a hackneyed, limiting piece of advice–but it can work sometimes.
I do not think writing about cats is more or less frivolous than writing about brothers, or anything else for that matter. As with everything in literature, it’s not what you do but how you do it. Which is why it’s ridiculous that, say, humourous writing is sometimes not taken seriously. I guarantee you the writer of a genuinely funny book took the task of making it so *very* seriously.
So I’m a touch nervous to say that I’ve written my first story with a more central cat in it, Everyone Likes a Little Guy, just published in the Rusty Toque Issue #3. I hope it’s a good story and engages with real people living real lives. Much as I want to live in a fluffy world where the kittens wear bowties and dance on rainbows, I live in the real world and try to write about it as best I can. One of the perks is occasionally I can write about cats.
October 10th, 2012
A bit of happenstance, and a bit not, has lead to a lot RR-related links in the West today–well, a lot relative to the norm, which is none. Ok, not my best sentence–moving on!
I did a fun interview with Cynthia Ramsey for the Jewish Independent in Vancouver. E-interviews can be terribly rote, so it’s thrilling as an author to open a set of questions to find that a journalist has engaged deeply with my work, and asked questions thoughtful enough to make me see it in some new ways, too. Hope you enjoy as much as I did!
My short story The House That Modern Art Built is now available on newsstands in PRISM international. This is the first thing I’m publishing from the current work–my first post-Big Dream publication, actually. Yipes, that was a long hiatus. Not sure why I needed a whole year, but it felt like I did at the time. Anyway, I’m proud of this story and proud also that it found a happy home at Prism. Hope you enjoy that, too!
October 4th, 2012
I have the gift and the curse of usually liking my own writing. If I was interested enough in an idea to write a full story about it in the first place(not the little abandoned snippets that litter my Word files), I’ll pretty much always consider it worth revising until someone else likes it too. This is a gift because it encourages me to keep on with stories that have a lot wrong with them, but a curse but I can waste a lot of time on something better left in the archives.
As I approach the fabled mid-thirties, I’ve found another wrinkle in this pattern of constant revision–my voice is changing, or rather has changed, a great deal. Well, a great deal to me–I find even the contrast between some of the stories in *Once* versus *The Big Dream* pretty dramatic, but I don’t expect anyone else to notice or care. But it’s one thing to read two stories written 5 years apart and notice a difference–it’s another thing to delve into a story written years ago and try to live inside it to a degree that I can write that way again.
And in truth, I don’t go back so terribly far. I’ve always written stories, but I rarely return to ones written before 2005-2006. There are simply issues of quality I cannot overcome in most of the stuff written prior to then, and issues of deceased hard drives don’t hlep matters. So really, we’re talking max 7 years, here. Have I really changed that much? I guess so. I’ve done it before.
The oldest short story I’ve published (that doesn’t qualify as juvenalia in some way–like being in teen anthology) is “If This,” originally written in 2000, published in The Puritan in 2009. It was one of pretty much two things that I wrote in university that anyone else ever understood, and I really wanted to see it published. But revising it was excruciating–my mind just doesn’t work that may anymore. Back then, I was writing in a style I named myself (I think?) called hyper-lyric. It was a maximalism, periodic, involuted style that was only one of many reasons most people found my work hard to follow, but I loved it and writing that way made me happy.
It no longer does. I wander into periodic sentences now, and then I try to get them out in the second drafts. I always want to say it more simply, and I actually think I am far more pretentious in conversation and personal writing that I am in fiction (I’d never use the word “involuted” in a story). I was never aware of jettisoning the hyper-lyric style, or whatever that was if you don’t accept my imaginary terminology, but it sure is gone now. I still *like* that story, and a number of others I’ll never be able to repair enough to publish, but I no longer possess the mind that wrote them. Weird, eh?
So revisions become a race against, well, not the clock but the calandar, anyway. These days, between work on the new stuff, I’m trying to revise work from that 2005-2006 period and send it out before I become so different from the lady who wrote them that I can’t revise them anymore. Am I being melodramatic? Maybe, but really, anything to encourage myself to work, right?
Anyway, all this is in my head today because an older story that I revised pretty heavily this past spring, called “Anxiety Attack,” has been accepted by Freefall Magazine, which makes me really happy. I’m so pleased that that story will get its crack at being read by a wider audience than me, and I’m glad some else agrees that it’s worthwhile. And I guess I’m glad too that this proves the slog of revising older pieces is worth it, at least sometimes. “First Afternoon,” another revisited and revised story, will appear in The Windsor Review next spring, too.
And the race against the hands of time continues…(another thing I’d never write in a story)
July 28th, 2012
I’m thinking it’s going to be a European summer on Rose-coloured–ie., nothing much will get accomplished in August. But here are some snaps from a reading that took place in July, and a small list below of things up coming once unproductive August is over.
The Happy Hour was a really great event, and I’m only sorry that we couldn’t have stayed longer to see more Leacock Festival readings. And Orillia–so gorgeous! I went in a lake!!
Ok, onwards–in the fall I’ll have a couple new stories out and do a couple fun readings, so here’s where to go if you miss me:
My story, “Everyone Likes a Little Guy” will be in the September issue of The Rusty Toque.
My story, “The House that Modern Art Built” will be in the fall issue of PRISM international.
I’ll be doing a reading or two at the Vancouver International Writers’ Festival October 16-21 (exact dates and times to come)
I’ll be doing a reading and Q&A at the Carlingwood Library in Ottawa on Saturday November 24, 2-3 pm.
So there’s some stuff for me to look forward to, and hopefully some of you guys, too. And of course I’m open to adding to this slate, if opportunities come along!!