Monday, April 18, 2011

Manitoba Book Awards - Pleasant Surprises!

Last night my wife and I attended the 23rd Manitoba Book Awards where I got to hobnob and rub elbows with many wonderful Manitoba writers and publishers, enjoy some wine, and eat some nibblies, and of course take in the awards.

It was again held at the CCFM (the Franco-manitoban cultural centre) which is nice but a little squishy. Catherine Hunter was an excellent MC for the evening, and Kelly Hughes was co-MC. Oh wait...he wasn't? Well...he sure talked a lot! ;)
Mr Hughes presented three awards and made some jokes, most of which were funny, again reminding me of Classic Kelly, before the bitterness of crushing his enemies hardened his soul.

One of the awards he awarded was to my friend Ariel Gordon, for the Aqua Books Landsdown Prize for Poetry (yay Ariel!).

One of the nice surprises was seeing Maureen Fergus take home the McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award: Older Category for her book Ortega. I will definitely have to check out that book now!

Other highlights of the evening: Goofing around with Daria Salamon and Ariel, a great conversation with Tory McNally, chatting with many authors (like Maureen, my boss Charlene Diehl, David Bergen, Chandra Mayor, and this is the name dropping portion of our program if you hadn't guessed yet), and talking with Paul McNally about building a fence.

For full details on all the awards, check out the Manitoba Writers' Guild website, or the new CBC Manitoba Scene website.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Latest MS has a packed lunch

Well, since this blog is supposed to also be about my writing, I better mention this (or else Ariel will punch me).

My MS (short for "manuscript" for those non-writery fans of mine reading from Iran), the one entitled "The Ghostcatcher Club" is now in the hands of a publisher in Kingsville Ontario! Palimpsest Press, the same press who publishes the lovely poetry of my friend Ariel Gordon, also has a YA/Kids imprint called Magpie Books.

I queried, and the publisher asked to see the whole thing! So I packed the MS a little lunch and sent it out the door! Good luck little dude! Good luck! (sorry for yelling with all those exclamation marks, but it IS exciting!!)

I'm guessing that I'll hear back from them in less time than it took Tundra (who actually lost the MS at one point...and then finally rejected it after a year and a half).

Friday, April 15, 2011

Eileen McTavish Sykes award is Close Race!

I was at Aqua Books last night for one of their pre-Manitoba Book Awards evenings, where they invite the nominees of some of the awards to read.

I was there to help support two of the people I know nominated for this award: Ariel Gordon and Craig Russell. I knew virtually nothing of Sheila McClarty or Keith Cadieux before last night, and I must say I was quite delighted to meet them and hear bits of their work (the fifth nominee, Theodore Fontaine, was unable to attend; since he was one of our guests at THIN AIR 2010 I had already heard him read before, although it would have been nice to see him again, as he is a pretty swell guy).

Kelly Hughes, the Man Himself, hosted, despite a horrible cold. He was quite funny, although nasally and coughy, and reminded me of Classic Kelly, before the days of 400+ events, before the days of the now bi-weekly new books update, and before the days he started to poo-poo all my very knowledgable and helpful advice. ;)

Ariel read from her poetry collection HUMP, steering away from nipples and breasts but serving up a deluge of water breaking and morning sickness poems instead (see what I did there? Heh). Very nice readings as well, interspersed with her typical Ariel humour which is always as bracing as a polar dip, but very funny.

Craig read from the beginning of Black Bottle Man, a book I absolutely love. Craig didn't so much as deliver humour as he was the object of humour from Kelly throughout the evening, but he took it all in good form.

Sheila read from her short story collection, High Speed Crow, touching on the beginning of two of the stories. I must say the second story about Edison testing electricity on an elephant from the 30's was very engaging and tragic. The story I mean, was tragic, not the reading. Sheila read quite well.

And Keith read bits and bobs from his novella Gaze, which was very H.P. Lovecraftian in its delivery about a man building something called a psychomanteum, which just by its very name gives me shivers, but the fact that it is a room built out of mirrors where one sits in the dark to gaze into the reflecting darkness simply scared the living shit out of me. Well done Keith. I didn't sleep a wink last night.

So the readings were all excellent, and I discovered two new authors! Best of luck to all on Sunday's Manitoba Book Awards!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cantus Borealis - musical poetry

Last night I attended the Winnipeg premiere of Cantus Borealis: Song of the Forest, performed by the Winnipeg Chamber Orchestra at Westminster United Church.

This was an undertaking at least three years in the making - I say "at least" because I know that Andris Taskans of Prairie Fire Press had a vision about 12+ years ago for it, but I became involved with it about three years ago as the President of the board of Prairie Fire Magazine.

To learn more about the entire project, go here: Boreality Project

But basically, it was a collaboration between Prairie Fire Magazine and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra to create an orchestral piece, with accompanying poetry and literature (more of that will still be coming from Prairie Fire Magazine in the months to follow).

I quite enjoyed the evening, and the music, despite the fact that Kelly Hughes had nothing to do with it. The choir was gorgeous, the orchestra superb, and the sound in the old church to die for. It was my first time in Westminster United and I was blown away. Overall, I was proud to be associated with one of the organizations that had taken part in the collaboration. Bravo PF peeps!

But why mention Kelly Hughes of Aqua Books, when Kelly Hughes had nothing to do with this project? Oh, that's just so the KellyBot detects Kelly's name and directs him here to read this.

Oh Kelly. You're so vain. You probably think this blog is about you. ;)

EDIT: It was recently (like an hour ago) brought to my attention by the lovely poet and writer of other writerly things Chandra Mayor (author of "All the Pretty Girls" which I am currently reading and quite enjoying) that Kelly Hughes of KHL! and Aqua Books DID have a connection with the Boreality project! Which I totally forgot about. Katherine Bitney was the W-i-R (Writer-In-Residence) there for several months during the initial stage of the project.

So...some collaboration in a helping sense.

Just wanted to clear that up before the Kellybot gets here and the KellyRant-o-Meter2000 starts besmirching my lovely name. ;)

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Humpity Hump Hump Launch!

Ariel officially launched her book Hump tonight at McNally Robinson Booksellers, and it was everything it should be: surrounded by friends and family and colleagues and fellow writers and editors and lots of good will and love, and even a bunch of books being sold! Heck, even bookstore owner Kelly Hughes of Aqua Books managed to slip past McNally security and make it to the launch! ;-)

Of course the core of the WWG (Wolseley Writers Group) was there: David Jon Fuller, Polly Washburn and myself, cheering and heckling as needed. Polly and I went earlier to have dinner with Ariel, who was also accompanied by many other friends, including her publicist Dawn from Palimpsest Press (who is a really great and funny person in her own right).

Just before she went up to read, Ariel said she was getting really nervous, and she did indeed look a bit...pale. But when she hit the podium and started speaking, she was right on the money with jokes and plenty of Ariel-inappropriate stories (ha!) and great poetry reading of course. If she was still nervous as she read, no one could tell. She was all poise and professional poet up there!

Yay Ariel! Congratulations again!

Monday, April 26, 2010

WWG alumnist shows us how it's done!

Yay for Ariel Gordon!

One of my old WWG (Wolseley Writing Group) gang won a major award last night at the Manitoba Book Awards!
Ariel Gordon won the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Writer. So awesome. So very awesome, and so very deserving.

As I mentioned in an email to the group this morning, she's done TONS of work in the past few years, including her annual May Day poetry project, her gorgeous photography (which I still hope one day becomes a gorgeous book of fungus poems), and her own poetry writing which resulted in two chapbooks last year and her first major published work this year from Palimpsest Press!

I still remember when the entire group of us went to the awards show back in 2003 or 2004 and David Fuller said (quite seriously) something along the lines of "we should totally be able to be on that stage one day. There's no reason not to be." And Ariel proved him right. :)

Ariel even gave a playful jab to the WWG during her acceptance speech last night, stating that being the youngest of the group she was the first to get there! Awesome.

I can't wait for her official Winnipeg launch next week (May 5, McNally Robsinson Booksellers) of her book Hump. Should be a packed house!

Now if only I could get my own writing butt moving again! Heh-heh.
My MS of the Ghostcatchers Club is still M.I.A. at Tundra books (they've had it for over 10 months, and the editor I sent it to left last year...and now they're trying to locate it). I've been doing lots of editing for my buddy Steve in the U.S.A. for his P.O.D. gaming company Rite Publishing, which has been totally awesome, and has now resulted in my getting a major editing deal with Amber-sourcebook-co-writer Jason Durrell. Looking forward to that! (I'll post the press release here later today). But Ariel's win has really uplifted my spirits, not only for her, but for myself. It shows me that it is possible to get stuff done with lots of hard work. And maybe it's high time to get this blog up and running again, with some new writing. :)

Congratulations again Ariel! You've inspired me!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rejection #1

Well, it's been a while blogging, but it's also (sad to say) been a while for writing.

Sigh.

Short: My time off from the Festival this winter season has not really been used for writing, as it has for relaxing. I seemed to have really burned out after this last festival, and my batteries usually need a bit of charging after such a big under taking (not to mention the fact that right after the festival I have to submit three grant applications in October).

Anyhoos...as I've said before, It's Not What You Haven't Done But What You're Doing!

And so it goes.

At the end of January I submitted no less than 10 queries of the Ghostcatcher Club to publishers. I've meant to send it to more, but that's a good start.

And the first rejection was today! Yay! Annick Press (big surprise). Typical form letter. Ah well. It shall have place of prominence on my wall of shame (heh).

In other Writing News:

(1) Review for Rubarb: I was approached by Sarah Klassen the other day, and she asked if I would be interested in reviewing a graphic novel for Rubarb magazine. As Anita Daher says (and I paraphrase): "being a poor Canadian writer, I said YES!" It's due on Monday, and it's all Christian-super-hero-like. Interesting...

(2) New Writing Group in the Formative Stages:
Yup. You heard it right here first. I'm going to be joining a new writing group!
And since I know that at least two of my former WWGers read this blog, I'll tread carefully over what I'll say next, and be careful not to bash my former group! (heh-heh-heh!) I wouldn't do that anyways, cuz I learned lots from those peeps!

Okay, the basic info.
Who: Me, my good friend Mr. Jason Booth, and one or two women from his crea-comm class.
What: Writing. Specifically fiction. More specifically sci fi/fantasy. Even more specifically novels.
When: First meeting soon. Maybe in a week or so. Then we'll meet over the summer between their classes. That's the initial plan. It might change if they want to meet more frequently or sooner.
Where: TBA
Why: Because my good friend Mr. Jason Booth asked me!

So, it sounds pretty good. I've suggested we all meet very soon to discuss why we want to meet, what we want to get out of a writing group, and to share some of our work with each other (i.e. read it out loud!). What I think will be really great is that we're all working on the same type of project: fiction, novel, sci-fi/fantasy. Coolness.

I've got a few projects to share: A 4th draft of The Flute of the NorthWind. The beginnings of a pretty awesome story (if I do say so myself) that looks at a reworking of the three classic monsters of our age (the Frankenstein monster/golem, werewolves and vampires).
And of course, I have my collection of short stories based on the world that the FotNW takes place in.

In any case, I've got stuff to work on, and maybe this writing group is what I need to kick myself in the pants!
I just haven't had the "bug" to write, which sounds stupid, but there it is.
Sigh.

Soon though...soon.