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!