Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Days Grow Short

So, it's September. Sorry for the silence all of August. August took some unexpected turns and vanished.

I'm re-reading "Disgrace" by Coetzee for school. It's not fun, but it's forcing me to read it with a more analytical eye, which is great.

Have been writing lots. Reading lots of Lorrie Moore short stories. Am going to go see her read at this year's International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront.

Gearing up for some self-reflection leading up to Yom Kippur, so I might not post again till after September 27th.

See you soon...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Zoetrope Contest

The 13th Annual Zoetrope All-Story Short Fiction Contest is accepting entries. Deadline is October 1st. Entries from outside U.S. accepted. All the details are at that link.

Sorry for the patchy blogging. Life's been fascinating lately and in a good way. And when life gets like that, sometimes you don't want to stop and blog it, you just want to live it.


If you're in Toronto, I'll be at the Old Mill Inn this evening to catch a performance of Much Ado About Nothing in the Wedding Garden.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Curated Shelving

Wait, wait, that post below, with the shelf?

The designers are Mike and Maaike, and you can learn more about this shelf at their site. It is first in a series of "curated shelves". This one is called "Religion" and is created to hold "the world's most influential religious texts together".

I'm more in love with the design than the idea of someone else curating my books. (I'm picky.)

The idea of my books sitting snugly in their own little cubbies, or aligned from the tops rather than the bottom kinda thrills me.

Come upstairs/I'll force-feed you/book covers

Book Covers
Can I ever get enough gorgeous, startling book cover design? No. Delicious book covers with credits and notes are at this blog, Covers. It is updated by a design firm called Fwis, who design, you guessed it, book covers. Yum! And here's another book cover blog, because you've been good, Book Covers Anonymous. Some of the posts highlight different covers used for US/UK editions. I could look at these all day.

Want to design your own now? You can buy these naked Penguins and go wild. I bought The Waves and I intend to harass an artist friend until he designs the cover.

And from the Covers blog, this shelf, this shelf,
I WANT IT. I want many many like it, all custom-carved to fit my books. Giant puzzles on my walls. Imagine?


I have been trying to use the word gavage in my story. It means force-feed. It can be used regarding the feeding of infants who cannot suck, or people who need super-alimentation. It can also refer to force-feeding as torture, and the way geese are fed to create foie gras.

I can't use it in my story. It's the right image, but the wrong word. I've checked all my dictionaries (I have a collection) and thesauruses, and most do not have the word. My French and my medical dictionaries have it though, as it is a French word and medical term.

Sometimes english feels so limiting.

Come Upstairs

Now I am trying to decide if my character would say:

Come upstairs, I have to show you the shoes I bought.
Come upstairs, you need to see the shoes I bought.

She's a small-n narcissist, a sophisticated drama queen, generous and selfish at once. I can't decide if she'd stick with the pronoun "I" - "I" have to show you, or whether she'd prefer to tell her friend what to do - "you need to see". The "come upstairs" is already imperative. Maybe I should follow Gordon Lish's idea of letting the beginning of a sentence dictate where it should end.

Come upstairs and see the shoes I bought.
Come upstairs. Come see the shoes I bought.

I'll work on it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Civil Elegies

On Friday, July 10th, I went to hear Canadian poet Dennis Lee read his 1972 work, Civil Elegies, as part of The Scream Literary Festival.

At the event, If Hope Disorders Words, Lee read Civil Elegies in its entirety (and it was the first time he had publicly done so - or maybe the first time since its original publication - I'm not sure).

The poet Jacob McArthur Mooney did a wonderful introduction of Lee, and has also written an essay for Open Book about Civil Elegies where he calls it "the saddest book in the history of Canadian letters". (You can also read an excerpt of the essay on poet Paul Vermeersch's blog.)

Before the event I read some of Lee's work - mostly from Un and YesNo, and it was powerfully musical and energetic. There was an intensity - even a violence to some of the lines, yet Lee read them with a much slower, quieter voice (than I had) which gave them a more lyrical quality and tone. It was lovely. Check his books out if you like your language twisted and wrenched, and moving.

As a bonus, here are some poems by Paul Vermeersch and some poems by McArthur Mooney.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Control A Cat

Don't ask how I find these things at 3:00am. That is the magic of the interwebz + the fascinating fluctuation of serotonin!

Et voila, Control-A-Cat. A remote control for your cat.

Feel like the boss of your own home again!

Kitty will cut a bitch.

(Actually, I wrap presents on my floor. I leave scissors on my floor. Kitty comes over and lies down on scissors and looks up at me pretending she has opposable thumbs.)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Writing for Mentor

I went over my first draft of the newest story today. We'll call it Garbage Strike.

It was definitely in need of tailoring. Some parts need taking in and some need letting out. My focus was intensified however, by knowing that this story will soon go out to (the) Mentor who will be looking closely at every word. It affected the demand I put on myself. It is a lot like working out with a trainer rather than working out by yourself. You can be just about ready to drop, but with a take-no-whining trainer, you will put in that extra set of reps.

Previously, I wanted to write well enough to sell, and now I am trying to write the best I possibly can. Hopefully that will still sell.

I want to make writing to the best of my abilities a habit, make it stick - 'cause when this MFA is over, who will I be writing for?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Scream 2009

What kind of blogger am I, that I completely neglected to blog or thus attend this year's The Scream Literary Festival?!
The theme this year is "The Book is Dead". Go check out the wake-like Day of the Dead-ish atmosphere.

I aim to be at Wednesday's event, but tonight's is cool too. If you're in T.O. and want to go to the Dennis Lee Reading and dinner on Friday with me, leave a note in the comments.

Tomorrow I'm Fringe-ing. Toronto, you have too many festivals in the summer and it is delicious and frustrating.

16 Fake Rules Worth Reading

Pete Tarslaw's 16 Rules of Novel Writing (as posted by The Ragbag*) is hilarious.

The list of rules is from How I Became A Famous Novelist by Steve Hely, which drops July 8th.

Hat tip Mich, who always alerts me to cool things.

*sorry Tammy, but that's the name of the blog!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sometimes I Post a Picture

'cause I'm not sure you'll ever return if all I post is text!

Venice Beach boardwalk, Los Angeles, California ~ June 30, 2009

I stopped to take this photo because when I glanced at this table I immediately saw Ma Salt and Pa Pepper defending Baby Sugar from the Ketchup Giant - and winning!

You're welcome.

Harping (Happily) on Harpers

FREE stories from HarperCollins editor Cal Morgan, one per week, at Yippee!

HarperPerennial, imprint of the way awesome covers, has its own blog, The Olive Reader. Add some vodka and vermouth and I'm all set.

What is this "new book publishing model" thing, HarperStudio? I don't know yet, but I aim to find out. I know, I ought to read before I blog, but that would delay the posts even further. I'll come back to this. I think I need to blog the ongoing debate amongst friends as to whether to e-book or not to e-book.

That Old Time Anxiety

I'm actually caught up on my reading. Had to read A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor and Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson.

I'm caught in that spot between "inspired" and "give up". I have to keep reminding myself that the simplest stories can be breathtakingly beautiful, and the most painful and profound stories can be simply written.

I've written a new story. I'm afraid to look at it. I have to keep polishing an older one too, since I have to send them both in to my mentor (let's just call him Mentor, ok?) in ten days. I have already censored one story by clothing a half-naked character. Why do I do this?!

The anxiety I'm feeling is somewhat wonderful in that I haven't felt this sense of direction and ambition in a long long time. However, the odd manifestation of night-time (almost-)panic attacks is not cool. I've been a bit weird since I got home though what with 3-hour sleep intervals and jaw-clenching and a strange relationship to food. By strange, I mean I entirely forget certain food groups until I feel faint and then need to eat MEAT!!! or KALE!!! urgently. Interesting. Stay tuned for scurvy-watch 2009.

When it's all too much, I just resort to, because baby animals make everything better as long as you don't focus on their captivity, endangered status, and dwindling natural habitat!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sweet Tweets

I'm following a variety of literary twitterers and wanted to post a round-up of interesting links people have recently posted:

Type: Claudia Dey & Rex Harrington in conversation

A new story, "Childcare", by Lorrie Moore in The New Yorker

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discusses her new short story collection

Also, my friend Ian sent me the following Marge Piercy poem, For The Young Who Want To, and I'm sharing it with you.

More soon!


One of the seminars I attended during this residency was a brown bag lunch panel discussion on the role of blogging in media with Dana Goodyear, Mark Sarvas, and Veronique de Turenne, moderated by Kate Gale of Red Hen Press.

I was embarrassed that I had never heard of Maud Newton's litblog or Mark Sarvas' "The Elegant Variation". I will add links to both their blogs on the side.

They discussed the pros & cons of blogging; the time commitment, the danger of procrastinating. I will remember more when I check my notes, but I need to check out of this hotel room shortly.

I asked the panelists about blogging under a pseudonym, and they agreed that there was no "should" or "shouldn't" about it, just whatever one is comfortable with and what one wants out of the blog.

The question for me is whether this will eventually be my "author" site, or whether this will remain a personal blog that I'd prefer hidden from googling family members.

To those of you who blog under your real name: Has having your life out on your blog ever had any negative effects?

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Letter to America

Dear America,

I love your "service with a smile". I love your twang... most of the time. I love your artists, your bluster, your swagger, your grand buildings with the names of philanthropists on the front. Your optimism, even when your economy sucks.

I love your absurd portion sizes, your ridiculous menu creations (donut french toast? whipped cream on everything?), your retro diners, your retro grocery packaging, the way you say "uh-huh" instead of "you're welcome". I love your opinionated self. I love your free refills, and the fact that you still have dollar bills, so that holding three of them feels like money and not change.

I (have grown to) love (even though it drives me CRAZY) the perverse dedicated way that ALL the gardeners in LA absolutely refuse to dead-head their roses, leaving overblown, blousy roses outside all the buildings, like aging starlets in faded summer dresses (scheming to hide the new blooms).

I love Broadway, and paying the U.S. price on things, even though there's the exchange rate to factor in. I love that I can justify this blog entry by pretending that it's an assignment for "The List as Post-Narrative Structure". I love that your sale prices are actually a bargain and not just marked-down mark-ups.

I know we don't agree on everything, and that I could make a list just as long with negative things, but I won't, 'cause that's not what love is about.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Things I managed to do today (by "today" I mean since 12am):

Finished reading Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley. It was terrific and I should have read it years ago.

Started re-reading The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.

Had lunch with a friend-of-a-friend who is more-or-less where I was at for the last six months, and I was able to confidently say to her, "don't worry, you'll figure it out".

Remembered to put sunscreen on my shins and the tops of my feet, but did not remember to sunscreen my thighs. Wore a short-ish skirt. Have the dumbest looking tan EVER. Half my thighs are pasty white, half are tanned and my knees are slightly burned. Picture it - you could use a good laugh.

Got spaghetti sauce on my shirt. Naturally. (I can make spaghetti here because it's an "apartment-style" hotel with a kitchenette.)

Went to the two-hour orientation seminar for the Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing program I have just started. It was terrific. Tomorrow the actual seminars and lectures and introductions to software (for the online portion) begin. I'm really excited. I have a ton of reading to do. I will also have a ton of writing to do, but that part is more intimidating than exciting, so I'm going to ignore it till the next ten days are over.

I dreamt of David Bowie again. I do occasionally dream of David Bowie and Madonna. In the last dream, David showed me his art collection* and then David and my cousin and I played a practical joke on my other cousin. It involved David wearing a fake rubber nose. It was hilarious. In the dream.

I wrote this blog entry. I thought of you and you and you and you.

* I have no idea what kind of art David Bowie actually collects.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Overheard in My Life

On the Phone with My Mother

Mom: Why is your cat crying like that? Is she hungry?

Me: That's not my cat, that's Patsy Cline.


In the Elevator with a Young Male Stranger

Me: (said matter-of-factly right as I got on the elevator) You smell nice.

Him: It's Axe.

Me: Oh... no...


Dad on the Phone with Sister

Dad: Oh... Where? Yeah...Good! You can see the Bell - that Bell they have... yeah, or cream cheese...

(At which point I cracked up 'cause I knew the other part of the conversation was my sister talking about a possible visit to Philadelphia.)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

This is Not a Message

Not a message, just sharing some amazing lyrics off Paul Simon's "Surprise" album. I took it out from the library, and I may have to buy it.

Another Galaxy (by Paul Simon)

On the morning of her wedding day, when no one was awake, she drove across the border. Leaving all the yellow roses on her wedding cake. Her mother's tears, her breakfast order.
She's gone, gone, gone.
There is a moment, a chip in time, when leaving home is the lesser crime.
When your eyes are blind with tears, but your heart can see: another life, another galaxy.

That night her dreams are storm-tossed as a willow. She hears the clouds, she sees the eye of a hurricane, as it sweeps across her island pillow.
But she's gone, gone, gone.
There is a moment, a chip in time, when leaving home is the lesser crime.
When your eyes are blind with tears, but your heart can see:
Another life, another galaxy.

Monday, June 08, 2009

I'm Ba-aack (and a note on nail-biting)

Yes, I've been a very very bad blogger. But here I am, back with a renewed sense of purpose. I have lists of things I intended to blog about, and probably never will. For now, I will just quote a snippet of conversation.

For a few years, I've wondered why whenever I am not quite all "well" (in a neutral or depressed state) I stop biting my nails. Then they grow, and I polish them and they look fab. As soon as I'm back to "normal", I start biting them again.

ME: "I've been biting my nails again. It's always when I'm feeling better. I can't understand why. What does it mean? It doesn't make any sense."
FRIEND: "It makes sense."
ME: "It does?"
FRIEND: "Sure. When you're down, your apathy overrides your anxiety."
Me: !

Current fave nail polish colours: OPI Malaysian Mist, China Glaze Purple Panic, OPI Up Front and Personal. Yours?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Women on the Verge of a New Series

How apropos - Fox TV Studios is developing "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" for television.

Looks like they are aiming it at the boomer void between Sex in the City and The Golden Girls. Perhaps inspired by the success of Desperate Housewives? Not a bad idea on paper. Anyhow, if they manage to maintain some of the European aesthetic sensibility (i.e. putting a moratorium on Botox in the contracts, maybe?), and designing the interiors so they don't look like, well, sitcom sets, this might be fun, but without Almodovar actually attached to creatively consult in any way, it might also lose what makes the film so compelling in the first place. I just don't want it to be some sort of "Hope and Faith" or whatever that show is called. Blech.

All About My Flowering Almodovar Secret

I've been bingeing on Almodovar films. Claro.

I've watched:
Volver (The Return)
Atame! (Tie Me Up!/Tie Me Down!)
Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother)
and Mujeres al borde de un Ataque de Nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown)

These films have a casual, intimate quality that renders the high drama of the plots believable, despite the events or characters that strain the suspension of disbelief. It is like meeting a friend of a friend for the first time, and then spending the whole day with her and realizing when you get home that you really hope you can hang out with her again, because there is a lot of heart and fun mixed in with her brand of crazy.

Almodovar manages to capture female emotions in their full mercurial movement. He presents emotions always in the context that organically feeds them and lets them move the characters (and plot) along.

I love Almodovar's use of colour too - bright orangey reds of 1980s European plastics, turquoise tiles, yellow wallpaper; the sets are as juicy as the passions portrayed in the films. Food also shows up again and again - tomatoes and peppers, frying pans and blenders. Tomatoes may be the metaphors for hearts full to bursting, being methodically chopped up by women trying to keep things under control. And when they can't keep life under control, the women turn to sedatives of various kinds.

My sedatives happen to be the films themselves at the moment.

I'll leave you with a couple of lines spoken by the male-to-female transsexual character of Agrado in "All About My Mother". This line stopped me in my tracks and prompted the blog post:
Well, as I was saying, it costs a lot to be authentic, senora,
and one can’t be stingy with these things
because you are more authentic
the more you resemble
what you’ve dreamed of being.

Heart phone photo from Etsy seller domestikate.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Female Mechanics Calendar

In the past four years, my father has encouraged me to learn a trade as the haphazard quality of my writing "career" makes him nervous for my future financial stability. As he is a creative man, he has come up with several ideas:

1) Property Manager - "you just sit in an office in a building - you'll have time to write"
2) Teacher - "you get the summers off - you'll have time to write"
3) Securities course or study/play the stock market - "manage your money - you'll have time to write"
4) Plumber - "something to fall back on, they make $70 an hour - you'll have time to write"
5) Auto mechanic - see above
Though I have no special affinity for machines (or property management or money management for that matter), auto mechanics sounds cool, so I looked into it. I drive, and it wouldn't hurt to know how to speak "mechanic" when I take the car in for service.

I found some local automotive training courses, but I was more excited to find the super cool Female Mechanics Calendar by photographer and writer Sarah Lyon. Her photos made the prospect of mechanic training far more appealing. Here were women who had already taken a career turn into mechanics and seemed quite happy (and renumerated) for it.
From 2007 to 2009, Sarah Lyon photographed women mechanics (or mechanics who happen to be women, however you prefer to slice it), documented their stories, and put together a calendar. She says it best herself:
This unique and dynamic calendar includes automobile, motorcycle, hot rod, hybrid, marine, jet aircraft, bicycle, and race car mechanics. The project challenges stereotypes of the typical tool-girl, pin-up calendar by showing real women mechanics working in their shop environments.
I asked Lyon permission to use some photos from her calendar and she very graciously sent me a hard copy of the calendar too. It's fantastic. Never mind that we're halfway through April, this calendar is fresh and inspirational and nice to look at. One of the mechanics, Tess Gape (in the first photo), is even from Toronto and now works "on a Ferrari GT2 Team with the American Le Mans Series".

Some of the women grew up around car fixer-uppers or rode motorcycles and wanted to be able to fix them, but one started off with a journalism degree and another graduated with an English degree. As in any field, each woman took a different route to get to where she is now, but the calendar proves that the despite being a male-dominated field, there is (as usual) room for hard-working professional women. Order one calendar for yourself and one for a young woman you know. This calendar would also look great on the wall of your child's classroom. It goes till February 2010, so you'll still get 12 months worth of calendar, and a serious amount of cool.

While you're at it, check out Sarah Lyon's beautiful Journey photography too, of her solo 8,900 mile motorcycle ride.

All photos copyright Sarah Lyon

Monday, March 30, 2009


This blog is on a tiny hiatus for a few weeks. Please come by at the end of April. Thanks!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Are Literary Agents Endangered? (Chuck says No)

Marketing author Seth Godin says that the days of the generic agent are over as evidenced by the disappearance of travel agents and real estate agents. He suggests agents must specialize or die (figuratively) and includes literary agents in his prescription.

Chuck at the Guide to Literary Agents blog says, literary agents have always specialized and are not in danger of becoming redundant anytime soon.

Low Tech Home Ec

If you liked the Mabel Hyde Kittredge blog post
from March 10th, you will love this online library from Cornell University called HEARTH! It stands for Home Economics Archive: Research, Tradition, History.

These amazing home economics texts from 1800 to 1999 can teach your children to sew or help you discover if your cocoa contains arsenic. They might also remind you how good you have it.

(Or when it comes to adulterated food, maybe not.)

Image from The home and its management: a handbook in homemaking, with three hundred inexpensive cooking receipts by Mabel Hyde Kittredge

Monday, March 16, 2009

St. Paddy's Day

I did not drink any Guinness today, but I did watch the St. Patrick's Day parade and waved and cheered, and got pamphlets on Irish Dancing, and a green plastic necklace for my enthusiasm (no flashing was involved).

I don't even know how to upload pics from my phone yet and they're terrible quality anyhow, so maybe it's best to just imagine the following:

1) A faux Finnegan's wake set up on the back of a tractor/trailer - complete with dude lying "dead" in four-poster (with wallpaper behind him), the song blaring, a widow in black lace, and a kitchen table and buddies dancing. It made me laugh so hard.

2) The Ontario DeLorean Owner's Club. Can you imagine a line of DeLoreans driving by you? I could not believe what I was seeing. One DeLorean had a passenger holding a Hoverboard on her lap! That is attention to detail.

There were people handing out flyers for Riverdance (return engagement to T.O. - is there a demand?), and Irish Spring body-and-hair wash sample bottles. Oh, green, symbolizing so many many things!

There was also a song and much riffing on the U.S. Prez being Barroch O'Bama - complete with limo, president impersonator and fake Secret Service dudes. It was funny.

Green Beer Day is over. You may now move on to the chocolate-marshmallow eggs and matzah.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What I'm Reading

I tend to inadvertently read on themes. I don't do it onpurpose, but I start several books, and then when I stack them together, I realize they all connect. I guess my subconscious takes care of it.

I'm reading The Wicked Son by David Mamet. I'm re-reading The Merchant of Venice and The Outsider by Albert Camus.

I really did not enjoy The Outsider in high school, but I was full of pep and vigour then, and was quite repulsed by Existentialism. Camus' writing is much better than I remember. I've never warmed to Existentialism, but I'll see how I feel at the end of the book.

I also forgot that Merchant has one of my favourite openings of Shakespeare's plays, which I often misattributed to Romeo and Juliet.
In sooth I know not why I am so sad.
It wearies me, you say it wearies you.
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff ‘tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn.
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me
That I have much ado to know myself.
I'll write more when I finish reading them.

Friday, March 13, 2009

More Disgrace/Scandal/Debt

I haven't learned to think before I blog. (And probably won't, so don't hold your breath.)

Disgrace and Notes on a Scandal are two very different books. And neither is really about an affair between a teacher and a student.

That is the incident that gets the ball rolling. It's a significant event, but both novels deal much more with power and loneliness. Sex (including rape and statutory rape) is a charged catharsis with vast political aftershocks.

The problem I have with Disgrace is that I never, at any point, liked this protagonist. I understood him, sure, but I spent two hours this evening in the company of a character I didn't like and never grew to love. I appreciated his principles (as far as he stood by them), but the protagonist's (psychological) affect was more reminiscent of Camus' The Outsider. I could not find a way to believe the relationship between him and his daughter, either. Maybe there is something about this aging-man POV I don't get or can't slip vicariously into; I've never read About Schmidt, but I'm not sure I should bother.

Coetzee is as erudite as his anti-hero, so the writing - the actual choice and placement of the words - is strong. The story moves along, and it did agitate me enough (at least intellectually) that I bit my nails. That's a good sign. I just didn't love anyone in the book at all. Is there a clinical detachment here from the writer? Or am I simply very sentimental as a reader, drawn to more sentimental stories? The novel was realistic, but realism does not always move me.

Both Notes on a Scandal and The Debt to Pleasure have strange broken characters who are somehow fun (or interesting) to inhabit, despite being unlovable. You love them in their despicable actions, in their twisted self-preserving logic.

Disgrace is a far-reaching novel. It touches on many themes with intelligence and depth, yet the emotional experience was tepid. Perhaps it is one of those books that will stay with me longer than I expect. Perhaps I am not well-read enough, and don't know enough of the classic literature references. (Like reading Camille Paglia or Harold Bloom, I felt very ignorant as to all the classics I have not read, and the potential layers of meaning I was missing.) Then again, a work should stand on its own.

I'm glad I read it (so people can stop telling me to read it), but will I walk past it at the bookstore, and grab my friend's arm, and say, "Hey! Have you read this?" while jabbing at its cover? No.

(Though I have to add: I really like the cover!)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Scandal and Disgrace

This is a lazy blog post.
"The present letter blog post is a very long
one, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter."
Blaise Pascal Lettres Provinciales, XVI
If I save this as a draft, I'll never come back to it, so I'm posting it as "rough notes" and perhaps I'll write more on this later. Keep in mind I haven't finished reading Disgrace yet. Feel free to add your thoughts and free associations in the comments!

From the Oxford Dictionary of Current English (1993):

n 1- cause of public outrage
2- outrage etc. so caused
3- malicious gossip

n 1- shame; ignominy
v 2- dismiss from a position of honour or favour

- a male professor sleeps with a young female student
- male writer: J. M. Coetzee
- Booker Prize Winner (1999)
- Nobel Prize Winner (2003)
- motion picture starring John Malcovich (2008)
- screenplay by Anna Maria Monticelli
- (recommended to me by two different men in their forties - not teachers!)

Notes on a Scandal (2003)
- a female teacher sleeps with a young male student
- female writer: Zoe Heller
- Man Booker Prize shortlist
- motion picture starring Cate Blanchett and Dame Judy Dench (BAFTA, Oscar, Golden Globe nominations for both) (2006)
- screenplay by Patrick Marber
- (picked it up because I was impressed with the film cast and the library book's cover)

Wikipedia on sexual relationships between students and teachers.

My initial thought that led to this blog post was simply, did one deserve the Nobel Prize and not the other? (One might ask, is the Nobel Prize worth winning with this judge's attitude?)

I just cut 133 words re: gender bias, 'cause I had nothing new to say: Men have dominated as short/longlisted authors, jury members, and winners in the past 30 years. I didn't want to wade into gender-bias issues.

But can you discuss sexual relations between a teacher and a student without wading into gender issues? It's a tangled mess of gender-roles, age-differences, power-wielding, and questions of consent.

Have you read both?
How do they compare?
What did you think?
Did you see either movie?
Are they more similar to each other, or to other works? (Oleanna and Pretty Persuasion or others?)

Well? You only get points if you participate.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I Love What You've Done with Your Tenement Flat

I have no idea why this 1911 book, Housekeeping Notes: How to Furnish and Keep House in a Tenement Flat, is in print, but I'm so glad it is! It reminds me of my visit to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.

It seems to be an instructional book for teachers in Housekeeping Centers who were to teach young women from the tenements (I'm assuming they were women), how to keep house. It lists what one needs to set up a home in a tenement, how much it would cost, and how to maintain everything. It is also full of things to be grateful for (i.e. that I don't need to keep coal for a stove, etc). It also defaults to a family of five, and addresses both units with or without shared bathrooms.

I like the frank approach the book takes:
Shelves for china in the dining-room are better than a sideboard, the latter being too large for an ordinary tenement room. Cheap sideboards are also very ugly.

Book shelves are a necessity in the living-room…
These courses dealt with the reality of living in the tenements. Tenements were notoriously crowded, poorly maintained, and were built with the absolute minimum regard for human comfort and safety. They were such unhygienic fire-traps that they essentially spurred lawmakers to create building code laws. Tenement landlords were eventually forced by law to upgrade all their buildings to have indoor plumbing, and they argued at the time that it was too costly and not worthwhile.

After the first Tenement House Act, landlords tried to get legislation passed to undermine it. Check out this New York Times article from 1896. (Viewing the full article is free.)

There are probably lots of current books regarding public policy on low-income housing, and plenty of material on organizing social activism, but I can't imagine anyone publishing something like this now. It would be like publishing "Your Home in the Projects: How to Keep It Clean and Gorgeous". There are plenty of websites to tell you how to live frugally, or make furniture from Fed-Ex boxes, but I'm not sure if it's quite in the same spirit.

These types of courses were what eventually became public school Home Economics courses (I think). They were gone by the time I got to junior high. Unfortunately, I really needed this kind of training - I'm a pretty lousy housekeeper! I wish Home Ec and Auto Mechanics had been mandatory. However, with tuberculosis and bedbugs on the rise in T.O., perhaps we may as well look to 1911 for help.

Photos of 97 Orchard Street, Lower East Side, NY, from

Monday, March 09, 2009

Eye Camera

It was really only a matter of time till someone developed this eye camera and in my opinion, it won't be long before it reaches a broader consumer base.

Imagine when spies and paparazzi get their eyeballs implanted/replaced with these? Or teenagers? Peeping Toms? Creeps on the subway? I'm having a hard time focusing on the positive benefits here.

Read Poetry for Toronto's Birthday

Toronto and I shared a birthday last week and it was great fun. I didn't know it was going to be Toronto's birthday, so I made my own plans.

I did at least get with the program regarding the Keep Toronto Reading event, and at the Graphic Bandita's urging, put a copy of Glen Downie's Loyalty Management on hold. If you haven't read poetry in a while, I recommend you pick it up. It will remind you how great poetry can be.

Check out the Shortlist for Keep Toronto Reading too. Elyse Friedman's book, Long Story Short, which I blogged about a while ago, was shortlisted. Her stories really merge a new Canadian incarnation of tragic hipness.

Now I am back to reading the Portable MFA in Creative Writing book I mentioned before. I was reading about classic story structure and there was a section on the (non-classic) plotless story. When I got to:
"Keeping a reader engaged with an idea is tricky... However, Milan Kundera's hugely succesful novels are idea laden, perhaps even idea driven."
I realized that I have never read a Kundera novel because of the type of people I've only ever seen reading Kundera novels: skeezy pretentious guys in their twenties! Ha! There's my confession of reading bias for today. What's yours?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

When Your Character Bosses You Around

I wrote a story today. 2677 words.

There was a moment when I KNEW my protagonist was supposed to suffer. Life is cruel and it was going to be cruel to him. It was supposed to be. That's what you're supposed to do to your "hero", or even your "anti-hero" - you're supposed to put him through hell, or up a tree, or up a creek or whatever.

Then I chickened out.

I couldn't do it. He'd already had a plain day and a rough couple of years, so I gave him a hope-y ending.

I don't know if that constitutes a story or just a character sketch, but I'll see how it reads tomorrow in the light of day.

I always chicken out. Apparently it's common for a writer to weep when killing off a favourite character, but I can't even give my character a broken heart.

I need to get tougher. How do you do it?


God bless caffeine-addicted engineers.

Please watch this video on SomethinXY's blog of an astronaut who has his priorities straight.

Bonus tracks:
Caffeine and the central nervous system PubMed article
Caffeine: Neuroscience for Kids!

Champion in the Arena: A Tribute to Jackie Mittoo

The Nufunk Festival is on now and tonight there is a funkalicious event/gig in tribute to Jackie Mittoo, "an integral part of the Skatalites and the whole creation of rock steady".

Read more about Mittoo in this article in the Jamaica Observer. More about the gig here on

Update #1: More about Mittoo and the Jamaica to Toronto phenom on this Yahoo blog here - with MP3s!

Update #2: Light in the Attic Records is where to find all this great music. MP3s available here too.

That's where I'll be tonight. You come too.

Thanks to my ultra-hip friends who keep me aware of stuff like this. You are welcome to guest-blog your ultra-hip activities any time!

I'll be out tonight, but the premises will still be guarded by the ATTACK CAT.

The Hebrew Mamita

I've just been introduced to the Hebrew Mamita, Vanessa Hidary, and I'm better for it.

The other Def Poetry speakers/poets are great too. Looks like I'm going to be spending a lot of time on Youtube this week...

The Story Prize

The Story Prize winner is Tobias Wolff.

I learned about it from the National Post's book blog, The Afterword.

I've only read a few stories by Wolff and I enjoyed them. I guess this would be a good occasion to buy his latest story collection (or put it on hold at the library) and read some more.

The runners up were Jhumpa Lahiri (whose work is fabulous) and Joe Meno (whose work I have not read).

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Time, Wasted

You know when you go on Craigslist to look for one thing - just one thing - and then three hours later you've looked at every piece of retro/vintage furniture available within a 20km radius? When you should've just stuck to the garment racks you found at Ikea, anyway?


Right. So back to the writing, now.

More Globe Wernicke bookcases here.


Pretty and enamel and baubles - three words I love - all together at Graphic Bandit's post here. Go read it, if only to see what Spring looks like as a ring.

Three Reasons Why Work is Rejected

A good post at the Guide to Literary Agents blog on the top three reasons work is rejected for representation by an agent. So to read:
But why do GOOD writers get rejected? Simple... They submit before the work is ready.

It strikes fear into my writerly heart.

Sometimes people say, are you still working on your book? When will you submit it?

Although I would like to submit my manuscript soon, I do not want to submit it before it's ready. The truth is that most first novels end up locked away in drawers to be laughed at later when the author has successfully published her third novel. My Novel #1 still needs revisions, but I am always plagued by the thought that the revisions won't be enough. It might just be my "drawer" novel, and it's too soon to tell.

Domestic Abuse

WendyB linked to Topaz Horizon on her blog in talking about domestic abuse. (I'm not linking, 'cause Wendy got the permission, not me - but DO check out Wendy's blog!) The blogger at Topaz Horizon discusses her own experience of being in an abusive relationship, and it is eye-opening.
I can't really comment on the lives of celebrities, (though of course I do), because by the time we read something on the internet lord knows how many ways it's been distorted. In the case of the singer currently in the news, I hope the people closest to her are watching the situation like hawks. Hawks with guns.

However, if you know a teen you might want to share these posters with her or him. They were a joint project with the Speers Society, the Toronto Police, and Kids Help Phone, and designed by students from Seneca College. I think they do a good job of addressing how abuse might present in a teen relationship, and what it does to the abused party (isolate, destroy self-esteem, etc.). I post them here without permission, but if you want to order them or find out more, there is contact info here.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Portable MFA

I got The Portable MFA from the library. I am on page 28. So far it is excellent. I've worked through my mini-drought and I've written 793 words this evening. Hurrah.

The book is meant to be a portable summary of the lessons you'd learn in the New York Writer's Workshop and so far, the fiction portion is quite good. (It also address magazine, screenplay, and non-fiction writing.)

I especially recommend the Introduction by Tim Tomlinson where he discusses the uses of an MFA (and abuses, too, in programs that are poorly taught by lazy teachers). His list of top ten flaws of Creative Writing MFA programs should be required reading for anyone applying to/pursuing an MFA program and for those teaching one.

While there is nothing radical in the fiction section, I much prefer Tomlinson's approach to teaching plot and structure to McKee's. A lot of the story set-ups he examines are familiar, but I've never looked at them with a writerly perspective as story forms.

So far so good. I'll let you know what else I discover.

Happy Birthday to You

I'm not a fan of Ms. Biel here, but I'm nothing if not caring. So this is for a certain birthday boy. I hope he appreciates how many pics I had to flip through to find this one. Have gorgeous day.

I don't know who the photographer is, but I found this photo at this fan site.


Ugly/cute recycled plastic luggage by Heys.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


Well, I'm rather fond of March (also, of the Hebrew calendar months of Adar I and Adar II) because it's my birthday month and Spring is supposedly on the way. I like the word March too. From Mars, the god of war, comes March, a nice succinct stompy kind of word. But it also has a pale yellow quality to it (like jonquils, the birth flower), and a squishy sound at the end (March-shmallow?) and it sounds like "Ma" which is sweet and cozy, and "arch", which can be wry or villainous! And the birthstones, depending which resource you look at, are bloodstone (dark green with red flecks) - which sounds cool and deep and is a kind of chalcedony (<--also one of my fave words), or aquamarine, which is icy and cool and sparkly.

Well, this ode to March is not the reason I logged on today, but what can I do? I love March very March. (Thank you! I'll be here all week!)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Strength, Thrift, Domesticity

Specchio is having their once-per-season 80% off sale.

This means that shoes like L'Autre Chose and Dries Van Noten and XOXO are reduced from upwards of $500 to approximately $150 (CAD!) a pair. Peanuts! These are leather, made in Italy, shoes you want to hug and kiss, shoes that are supple and sexy, shoes that love your feet, that spirals off into paroxyms of joy...

I went in yesterday. I held off for weeks. Fortunately, the holding off meant most of the shoes my size were gone - that was the plan. But there were a few in my size. That's what took strength. I had to tell myself that not only did I not need any shoes, but since the moths and the cat pee have wiped out a good portion of my closet, I'd have nothing to wear them with anyways.

But do you want to know where I really got my strength from? How I managed to walk out of there and to the library?

I will tell you the new source of my lust/frugality. I am over my Roomba coveting. I want a Dyson. I want a vacuum cleaner that costs $700. I want to see it suck up years of embedded cat hair that my darling inefficient Dirt Devil can't pick up. Oh, the Dyson - it's like the Mac of vacuums, isn't it? When I manage to save, that is what I am saving for.

I even took Biting the Dust: The Joys of Housework out from the library. Not a how-to, but a book on the history of it. Those who know me know I'm a slob. Combine it with the fact that I've been sleeping at night and waking up in the morning... what does it all mean?

Oh dear. I have written a blog post where shoes and vacuum cleaners face each other in a feminine-stereotype battle. I have to go make coffee and examine my gender issues now.

L'Autre Chose boots photo stolen from Shopstyle/ and vacuum photo nicked from

Honey Cake II

This is not the season for honey cake.

Purim is coming up and that means different kinds of treats, but I just read a story called Honey Cake.

It describes the invasion of Denmark during WWII, from the point of view of a ten-year-old boy. It is, like honey cake, dense without being too heavy, and sweet. Denmark's king, if you'll recall, was a brave and honourable soul.

Naturally, when I read about food, I get the urge to eat it or cook it, and there is a recipe in the back which I can't wait to try.

Here is a review from Quill & Quire that I pretty much agree with.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Graphic Novels

I don't profess to know anything about graphic novels.

I read the entire set of Akira in my teens, 'cause hey, my friend was cool and he read them. (I'm original like that.) Then I read Maus some time later.

In the past few months I've read both American Widow by Alissa Torres and Sungyoon Choi and Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto.

American Widow is Alisa Torres' story of her life after 9/11. Her husband was on his second day of his new job at Cantor Fitzgerald and she was pregnant with their first child. Cancer Vixen also recounts joy interrupted when three weeks before her wedding, cartoonist Marisa Acocella found a lump in her breast. Both women have expressed these experiences via incredibly powerful tellings of very personal and painful stories. Torres and Choi's story uses more silence and less humour. Marchetto's tone is just as raw, but more conversational, and often funny too. Both of them transported me fully into their lives and left me better for it.

I feel like sometimes talking about "women's stories" actually does them (us?) a disservice, by segregating them rather than allowing them to be stories in the marketplace, but these two graphic novels are really women's stories, told by women from their own experiences in their own voices. The emotional intensity, honesty, and fantastic art, however, will appeal to everyone.

Now to put Marjane Satrapi's books on hold at the library.

New York Times book review on American Widow here.

Keeping Calm

So back here, I bemoaned the discovery of a print I really liked, followed quickly by my discovery that it seemed to be ubiquitous.

With so many "Keep Calm and Keep Going" posters out there, I did not expect to receive a reply from the artist currently creating some of the prints. But I did get a reply - and I got schooled! The artist informed me that he hand-lettered his reproduction (as the original was hand-done) and then cleaned things up on the computer. He also refined the art in his own unique way, so that there is something of himself in it (and so he can bust anyone who copies him - clever). Mr. Papermoth was also kind enough to send me a link to a telegraph article which provides more info on the original bookseller/poster-finder, Barter Books.

The conversation restored my "consumer confidence" (and taught me to be a little more patient), and now I can happily order myself a print, feeling satisfied that the artist selling it has integrity and approaches his work with care.

Monday, February 23, 2009

This is How I Like Them Apples

I'm reading Apple: A History of Canada's Perfect Fruit by Carol Martin. I'm still at the beginning, but it's a great story of the apple, wild and cultivated, including which varieties were native to Canada and how different varieties got here. So that naturally led to more googling, and I found the following (emphasis mine):

From Apple Journal regarding Red Delicious:
The most controversial and widely distributed American apple. Red Delicious stores and ships so well, while retaining its shiny deep-red good looks, that it is sold in every possible state of internal disintegration. Too often, store bought Reds are little more than cardboard flavored, mealy mush beneath their glamorous skin. Still, Americans continue to buy it more than all other varieties combined. It can be a pretty good apple under the right conditions. Look for locally grown apples in season, and don't insist on a uniformly dark red color, and the chances of getting a better apple will improve in your favor. Many growers are now growing strains that have been developed more for flavor than for looks. Don't defeat their efforts by rejecting apples that don't look as though they came from a plastic injection molding machine. Remember this simple rule- art is a matter of visual esthetics and food is a matter of taste- not the other way around.
The problem is now the consumers of Red Delicious (whoever they are) are used to seeing perfect-looking shiny fruit. Re-introducing a more Delicious, but less Red apple will likely be an uphill battle.

Apple Journal seems to be somewhere between a trade journal and a promotional site. At any rate, I couldn't agree more with the description above. I never buy Red Delicious, partly 'cause they're too sweet, but mostly 'cause there's no way to tell a good from a bad one. Too much googling and now I'm daydreaming about orchards full of heirloom strains like Snow and Court Pendu Plat.

Update: More on the "Keep Calm" poster soon!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Atwood's Not Going to Dubai

Margaret Atwood has decided not to go to Dubai for the Emirate Airlines International Festival of Literature. The Gulf Between Us, written by Geraldine Bedell, contains mention of a gay Sheik and his English boyfriend as minor characters and has been banned in the UAE.

According to The Guardian (and you can guess how much store I put by The Guardian),
In a letter to Isobel Abulhoul, the festival's director, Atwood wrote that "as an international vice-president of Pen, an organisation concerned with the censorship of writers, I cannot be part of the festival this year".
This year? Like "I'll be specific and diplomatic, 'cause I'm Canadian and polite" or "Just wait till I'm done with this PEN thing"?

I'm surprised that so many authors agreed to go, without suspecting that something like this would happen.

Statements from other authors and the Director of English PEN here.

I do have a problem with Penguin waiting five months on this news - coughpublicitycough, but I have a bigger problem with this from The Times Online:
Sir Ranulph Fiennes said the festival organisers were merely being practical. “I think that if anybody out there wants to establish a festival of some sort, they would be rather stupid to offend the locals in any way.”
Hm, well, then don't have an "international" festival. Or set the guidelines ahead of time - "nothing may happen in your book that is punishable by UAE law in real life". The Toronto Film Festival offends locals annually. This quote, if it's real, makes the explorer sound like a spoiled fool who has never given too much thought to freedom because he's had the money to open doors. I respect him for his SAS training and charity work, but there's a difference between "not offending the locals" when they're going to help you find the next wadi, and "not offending the locals" at a festival of literature. Also, does he speak for the gay locals? Or did I miss something - is the UAE, like Iran, not home to any homosexuals?

Blog Bookkake has listed agent contacts for the authors that are attending, as well as a link to a facebook protest group. (Don't blame me for their blog name!)

Unfortunately, now I feel compelled to read "The Gulf Between Us" when it becomes available and it doesn't even look like my cup of tea.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Message, Medium, Musing on Originality

I saw this print on Etsy. Someone had taken a vintage WWII poster and printed it on archival paper in modern colours. I thought it was amazing. I instantly wanted it on yellow. I even emailed the artist (who I thought must be brilliant) to ask if I could please feature a photo on my blog. (I got no reply.)Then I realized I was late to the party. The BBC had already written a story about this poster. Apparently it was printed up on the eve of WWII, but never distributed (why not?). A bookstore owner found one in a book, showed it to his wife and they framed it for their shop. They were inundated with requests for copies. They made a few. One was featured in a holiday gift guide and according to the article, "all hell broke loose". The print I find now on Etsy (from Lisbon), beside being different than the one I originally found on Etsy (from Kentucky), is not only not original, but is riding a wave that has only just reached my shore. BoingBoing blogged it in 2007! There are not only prints available, but now also keychains and pendants and t-shirts. (The t-shirt seller has a photo of a ragged allegedly original poster. You have to scroll down.)

Naturally, the abundance of copies has spawned alternate versions and parodies, like Keep Calm and Carry Guns.

If you're interested in the typeface, consensus seems to be that it was hand-lettered, possibly Johnson or Gill.

Now that I've seen so many version I can't even read it properly anymore - I'm seeing "Kelp Balm" etc. And in the fashion of an indie music snob, who must leap off the "bandwagon" once others are on, I don't want one so badly anymore. I want this this one instead:

There are other incredible posters from WWII (and WWI and others) at the Imperial War Museum in England.

Some more treasures from the IWM are Eat Greens For Health, 6 Reasons Why YOU Should Save and Bad Form in Dress. Can you tell I picked the ones that most apply to me?!

FYI - proceeds from the IWM shop go to support the museum's charitable works, so buy your kids this and teach them a thing or two. (Now, now, I know your children are very smart, keep calm).


I signed up for a feed of articles from the Guide to Literary Agents blog and today that included a link to a Writer's Digest article about discipline. I particularly liked the following:
• Don't make a setback about merit ("I'm not good enough"), but about production ("I could be doing more").

At first I read that to be "don't let a setback about merit be about production" - and I actually prefer that. Rather than reframing my setbacks, I'd rather ignore the "I'm not good enough" (because that pops up every Tuesday and Thursday) and focus on "well, I won't improve by not writing, so I guess I'll keep writing".

Or like the quote my sister picked up somewhere: "Thou has not to like it, thou has just to do it".

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Who Am I and What Do I Write, Part IV

"Novels are concealed autobiography": Insofar as writing goes, the writer's fundamental attempt is to understand the meaning of his own experiences. If he can't break through to those issues that concern him deeply, he's not going to be very good.

- Robert Penn Warren

from Good Advice on Writing: Great Quotations from Writer's Past and Present on How to Write Well


Right now I'm reading:

Gilded Lilies - was in the graphic novel section of the library, but seems more like collected sketches (Jillian Tamaki)
Good Advice on Writing - out of print compilation of quotations (William Safire and Leonard Safir)
Thierry Mugler - part of the Universe of Fashion series (Francois Baudot)
Heat - I'm listening to the audio-book from the library and I am dismayed to see it is abridged. The hardcover is available now on super sale! (Bill Buford)
The Far Euphrates - finished this. It was moving and elegant and I recommend it. I bought it on clearance, but now find that it's apparently out of print, which is strange. (Aryeh Lev Stollman)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I swear to you this is true. About 10 years ago, I said something like "one day computers will get so small, they'll be purses". Not fit in purses - I meant open up and look like purses.

And here they are!

Now, if there was a sliding slot to hide your bank/credit cards and an insulated tab that would pop out and hold lip gloss, we'd be all set!

Pies - they're just like us!

Via Wendy Brandes Jewelry blog I discovered Cakespy - where they are "seeking sweetness in everyday life".

They put together a very cute pie tabloid - as a way to promote pies in the media battle against perenially popular cupcakes.

I love pie and I love this goofy send-up.

That Book from your Childhood

Loganberry Books is a bookstore in Ohio that also sells books online.
Even better, proprietess Harriett offers an amazing service called Stump the Bookseller.

So you know that book you loved as a child, but all you can remember was that it had a girl and a white pony, and the pony's name was snowball or snowdrop or something - and oh yeah, there was a really wicked witch in it?*

Well, you send Harriet $2 via Paypal and a description of the book. She, and various readers who are librarians or teachers, or just book-lovers like me, search and write in with info to help you out. If Harriet finds the book for you she'll get it and you can buy it.

What is most amazing about this site is not the joy when the book is found, but the sheer number of stories people remember from their childhoods. I love that a book can be out of print since 1923 and yet, someone was so touched by an element of the story that they will remember it (and look for it) 50 years later. It is a beautiful testament to the power of stories and how they continue to move and inspire, delight (or creep out) years after you first read or hear them.

* Reading descriptions of books with the keyword "witch" reminded me of the title for the out-of-print (and now quite pricey) The Wickedest Witch in the World which I thought had been lost in my subconscious forever! Author Beverly Nichols was apparently a gentleman.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Brownie Points Foodie Blog

"McAuliflower" is a visual artist, a foodie, and a blogger.

I'm about to add "Brownie Points" to my Cook/Eat blog links. I will probably never attempt any of her recipes, but she astounds me with this Rice-Krispie-based sweet sushi! Go look at her level of dedication!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fodder

No fodder, really. I'm just busy with life, applications to school programs, etc. right now. I'll have more to blog in a week or so. If you have any info on good "writing progress graphs" I can use to embed on this blorg, let me know.

Have a gorgeous Valenschmine's Day and don't buy any marked-up flowers! If you must, consider Organic Bouquet. I could tell you to be frugal and buy a bouquet of beets and carrots, but I've always liked the hyacinths philosophy.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Things I Call My Cat Besides Her Real Name

This is a meme I stole from Marla at Weight and Paint.

Shasha Bread Company (they make ginger snaps, don't ask)

Names I just thought of but have never really called her:
Botox ('cause she has pale eyebrows that make her look perpetually worried)

Her real name is Saturn. Yes, she's a girl. When I adopted her, she was called Franny. I bet you didn't know that.

Query Letters

Taking another stab at writing a query letter for agent submission feels about as fun as taking a stab at my own gut with a rusty knife.

Naturally, I can't just go ahead and start writing it. I must read everything anyone ever wrote on the inturwebz about query letters first.

You can join me!

Agent Query
So You Wanna (Write a Query Letter)
Nelson Literary Agency advice
The author of "The Art of Kissing" dishes query letter advice*
Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent, on how she likes her query letters
Poewar, a blog, on the QL
eHow makes it look easy.

Plus all the links to agents, etc., I have on the side over there.

So, if you would just read all those, summarize and send me a 1-page synopsis by tomorrow, that would be great, thanks.

Yeah, yeah, back to work, I know. But you can't expect me to write a query letter without breakfast. I'm sure I'll write a spectacular letter that will entrance agents and garner me huge advances... just as soon as I've had some brioche french toast and another cup of coffee.

*I don't make this stuff up, I just google it.

I don't like you, Hugo Chavez

Back in October I made a facebook comment:

First they came for the McDonald's, and I didn't speak up, because I didn't eat at McDonald's.

But don't worry, Venezuala's moved on from harassing McDonald's. They've moved on to desecrating synagogues.

Oh yes, I know Chavez is quoting as "condemning the act" - forgive me if I'm a bit skeptical.

And while I'm at it, Ben Cohen expresses himself better than I would on Fatima Hajaig's anti-semitic comments. Ah, Jewish money! If we have it all, who's building Dubai?!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Wherein Fictionally Tries a Poll

Carrot Cake Reward (with rum-soaked apricots, hello!)

I worked on my application. Hurrah! (It's an application so I can goes to a school where they teaches people how to makes good writering.)
Now I can look forward to making this amazing-sounding Chocolate Carrot Cake tomorrow or Monday. It is from the Foodland Ontario website, to promote carrot consumption (among other vegetables). 1/16th of this cake will contain 28 grams of fat. I'm okay with that.

*photo of carrosts stolen from Foodland Ontario website (but it's okay, 'cause I bought Canadian carrots today)


I am a good-to-great procrastinator. Oh, why be modest? I excel at it. I am better than you at it.

I even have the Planner (or Non-Planner) for the Creative Procrastinator.

So tonight as I dawdled the last three hours or so, staving off the raging anxiety that is accompanying current project-in-progress, I finally opened up Word and began.

I thought, perhaps I can look to some trusty heros for inspiration. Dolly's just a bit too successful and hard-working to really motivate me at the moment. You can tell she doesn't even know how to procrastinate. But what about Merle?Aw, yeaaah - that's more like it! Truancy, petty crime, serious time, drinking & drugs, 3 broken marriages? Yeah. Still a genius and a living legend? Yeah!

See? All I did was surf the web and eat chocolate ice cream. I could be at the bottom of a bottle of rye right now... out in the park! I'm ahead of the game. I knew it. This writing stuff is easy-peasy.


**Merle image "borrowed" from site that has compiled his whole discography. Merle has also recovered from a recent lung tumour removal and is touring again. God Bless!

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Seriously, if you are single and childless, don't go reading mom-blogs just 'cause you can't sleep.

Yes, the moms may be witty and smart and hilarious, their children may be adorable and brilliant and well-behaved, but you will allow a tiny worm of fear into your heart and it will crawl into your brain and it will say OMG NEVER EVER HAVE CHILDREN AAAAAAGH!

And really, why put yourself through this if you're already single and childless, hmmm?

I may or may not be speaking from recent experience.


Leave the Moon Alone

Lunar Property Rights, in a Popular Mechanics article by Glenn Reynolds (the Instapundit), is the kind of topic which leaves me deeply uneasy and anxious.

I want the moon to stay off-limits to human habitation. Am I going to need (to make a gazillion dollars) to buy the whole thing up just to prevent you from living there?

Despite the science fiction I've read, I don't really want to live on the moon. Not with the rest of humanity there too. (I'd make an exception for you, of course.)

Ok, I confess, it's not that I don't want to live there - it's that I don't want to spoil the view from here!