Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Xmas break; CPL Writers Weekend

The gents are off for a another skate with their buddies at our community rink, which is only about 300 meters from our house. So I have a quiet moment, in which I could be doing laundry, wrapping gifts, and many other things. Instead, I'm finishing my coffee and posting here, as I may not get another chance for a while. Though I have to say, we've pulled back from some of our holiday commitments this year and it does feel like more of a holiday. This could be the start of something big. Besides, I'm getting over a cold. Need to take it easy.

So an update on Calgary Public Library's Writers Weekend, which takes place on February 5, 2011. There are free writing programs all day, with Rona Altrows and yours truly doing a session on writing fiction at 11 - 12. Other presenters include Susan Toy from Alberta Books Canada, Betty Jane Hegerat, Marcello di Cintio, Oana Avasilichoaei and a publishers' panel. It think it's going to be a great day! Spaces are already filling up, so register early to avoid disappointment.

If I don't get another chance, I'd like to wish one and all a Merry Xmas. Here's to joy and contentment and lots of good writing in 2011.

All for now. I hear the patter of big Sorels on the front step.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

We All Shine On

I just can't let this day go by without remembering John Lennon. I was appalled to note, while driving around doing errands this morning and hanging around at home, that as I switched around my radio stations (CKUA, CJSW and CBC FM) none of them played any of his music that I heard. However, I'm confident that David Ward will come through on CKUA this afternoon; he always does on December 8th. In the meantime, here's a short excerpt from my story "Across the Universe" which is included in my collection Nothing Sacred. The main character, Maggie, remembers his murder:

When it happened that Monday night in 1980, I was working in Jeunesse, formerly the Misses’ Wear department, at the downtown Bay. We’d just started opening Monday and Tuesday nights for Christmas shoppers, and it was dead, dead, dead. I finished my homework by 6:30. Could have shot off a cannon and not hit any one, said Peg over in Career Wear. Pretty much the only customer who came by was the old transvestite who wanted to try on angora sweaters. I wasn’t really supposed to let him into the ladies’ change rooms, but I didn’t care. There weren’t any managers around. I hoped he’d come out and show me how they looked, but he didn’t. Later, I took an extra long break in the cafeteria. It seemed that night would never end.

Finally, I got home and sat in my room flipping through my records, trying to decide what to listen to. I was so brain-dead from my shift I couldn’t think. Then my friend Kevin called.

“Hey, Kev. What’s up?”

“Are you by a radio?”

“Yeah. Why, is your band on CJSW again?”

“No, Maggie. It’s so weird. John Lennon’s been shot.”

“Get out of here. Who would shoot him?”

“I’m not kidding. Turn it on to CBC.”

I sighed, switched on the radio and tuned it to CBC, expecting to hear a Neil Young song, or something even worse. Kevin was quite a prankster. But this time he wasn’t joking. John Lennon had been shot outside his New York apartment building, the announcer said. He’d been rushed to hospital, but they couldn’t save him. He was dead.

I remember being in shock for weeks after it happened. I went to school the next day, but I couldn’t concentrate on anything. Crystal and I skipped classes that afternoon and went and hung around downtown, wandering aimlessly, trying to understand it. We eventually ended up at Records Galore. Dave looked about the way we felt, just kept shaking his big bearded head. He said he’d sold every Beatle-related item he had in the store before noon. The three of us just stood looking out the front window of the store a long time, watching people trudge by through the snow.

Yep. That pretty much sums it up. I'll never forget that day.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Punk; Vaudeville; Markley launch; Pre-Xmas push

That's me in Calgary Public Library's Dutton Theatre on November 6th doing my portion of the Cowtown / Punktown presentation. What an enjoyable experience. We got a good crowd, and Dan Hayes put together a really impressive historical account of ye olden days, which set up my reading from Love Minus Zero perfectly. The part I enjoyed most was taking questions at the end, because you never know what people are going to throw out at you. I think we both had a lot of fun. Drinks and dinner at the James Joyce after with my old punk rock colleagues was fun, too.

Also enjoyable was the Literary Vaudeville event last Thursday night, a joint reading by four local authors: Rea Tarvydas, Ian Doig, Rita Bozi and Ken Cameron. And in spite of the January-like weather we've been having, they also managed to get a good crowd. Congratulations to all the readers -- you put on a great show.

This Saturday is the launch of Jan Markley's new MegaByte mystery Dead Bird Through the Cat Door, 2 PM at Owl's Nest Books. Looking forward to celebrating and perhaps having a cookie with Jan.

Hoping to keep the final pre-holiday push on my new novel going here, much as possible. The weather is helping in some ways -- outside is definitely not a distraction at this point. On the other hand, my mom's ALS continues to worsen (I just think that word 'progressing' doesn't really work). I have to say I'm not impressed with the consistency of care she's getting. It's all right, most of the time, except when they send people who can't deal with her equipment. Or when nobody comes at all, like happened yesterday morning. She would have been lying there for fourteen hours if we hadn't shown up at noon. Nice. So it's onto the phone once again tomorrow (naturally the person I need to talk to doesn't work Mondays). Ah, bureaucracy.

So over and out for now. Want to write while the writing's good.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Old punks live to tell the tale; Literary Vaudeville

Cowtown / Punktown, the presentation I did with Dan Hayes of the Golden Calgarians for Calgary Public Library on Saturday was an absolute blast. We had a great crowd, some even appearing to be under thirty, who asked interesting questions. Dan really outdid himself on his history and set up my reading from Love Minus Zero absolutely perfectly. I have to say, I enjoyed doing this event in a way I have not enjoyed others. As I read, pictures of my seventeen year-old self flashed on the big screen beside me
(a scary experience for a woman my age). I kept thinking, if you told that girl she'd write a novel based on that experience, and be reading from it and talking about those days in front of an audience in the library theatre all these many years later, she wouldn't have believed you. At first. But ultimately she would, because I always knew I would do this, that things like this would happen. Crazy thing, eh? Anyway, that's it for me for public events for a while. Now I can attend to the rest of my life a little more -- events do take up a lot of my energy. Nothing planned for me until Calgary Public Library's Writers Weekend event on Feb. 5. Rona Altrows and I are putting together a program for those of you who write fiction -- more details to follow.

As far as other people's events go, I'm looking forward to Literary Vaudeville, a multi-author reading taking place at dear old Memorial Park Library, 1221 - 2 St. SW, next Thursday, Nov. 18, at 7PM, featuring readings by my friends Rita Bozi, Rea Tarvydas, and others. Should be lots of fun.

Now I'm going to read some Rumi. I deserve it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Two Virgins; Cowtown / Punktown; Dead Bird Through the Cat Door

That's the Virgin Mary and the Virgin Lori at the grand opening of Shelf Life Books last Saturday, shot by my pal and official photographer Jan Markley. The event was truly a blast -- the readings were great, lots of people turned out and Shelf Life is owned and operated by some great book lovers. And lunch before and drinks after at Boxwood were both very nice. A very good Saturday, all in all.

Speaking of The Virgins, this Saturday Dan Hayes of The Golden Calgarians and myself will be talking about all things old-school Calgary punk in our program Cowtown / Punktown, one of the many interesting programs comprising the One Book, One Calgary event inspired by Aritha van Herk's Mavericks. We'll be in the John Dutton Theatre on the second floor of the Central Library (616 Macleod Tr. SE) from 4:15 - 5:00. Looking forward to looking backward!

Also looking forward to the launch of the aforementioned Jan Markley's new novel, Dead Bird Through the Cat Door, at Owl's Nest Books, 815A-49th Ave. SW (Britannia Shopping Plaza) at 2PM, Saturday Nov. 27th. Jan's last launch was a juggernaut and I expect this one will be no different. Nothing like a good book launch!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shelf Life grand opening this Saturday; Cow Town / Punk Town Sat. Nov. 6th

The launch of Rona Altrows' new book, Key in Lock, was a great time and a huge success. Glad I could be there to help Rona celebrate!

This Saturday the fun continues as Rona and I read at the grand opening celebration for Shelf Life Books at 1302 - 4 St. SW. There will be refreshments, prizes and hourly author readings Thursday evening, Friday and Saturday. Rona and I will be on between 3 and 4PM Saturday if you want to come and cheer us on. Should be a blast.

Here's a public service announcement I wrote for Cow Town / Punk Town:

COWTOWN / PUNKTOWN: Calgary’s Punk Rock History

Sat. Nov. 6, 4:15 - 5:00 PM 2nd floor John Dutton Theatre

Calgary’s live music scene in the late ‘70s / early 80s would have been made up of country rock, top 40 bar bands and disco -- right? Would you be surprised to learn that conservative Calgary was actually home to a thriving underground music scene in those days? That a host of punk bands played shows every weekend at community halls and venues like The Calgarian Hotel, The National Hotel, The Long Bar and Ten Foot Henry’s? Join author Lori Hahnel of The Virgins and musician Dan Hayes of The Golden Calgarians as they reminisce about Calgary’s nearly forgotten early alternative music scene.

If you're interested in registering for this informative local history program (ahem!), go to (Enter “Heritage Weekend” for the entire list ) or phone 403-260-2620. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cursed! and Key in Lock launches; Shelf Life Books; Cow Town / Punk Town

Unfortunately had to miss the launch of Maureen Bush's new YA novel Cursed! on Saturday, as I was at my Uncle Rick's funeral. Sigh -- sad indeed. My mother's family is being hit hard right now. But I understand the launch was a blast, even without me. Congratulations again, Maureen -- looking forward to getting my own signed copy soon.

Can't wait for the launch of my good friend Rona Altrows' new book, Key in Lock, at Memorial Park Library, 1221-2 St SW, next Saturday, Oct. 23rd at 2 PM. Congratulations to Rona and her publisher, Calgary's own Recliner Books.

I've been invited to read at the grand opening celebration for Shelf Life Books at 1302- 4 St SW. They'll be featuring readings by local authors Thursday, October 28 - Saturday, October 30. I will be reading sometime on the Saturday; details to follow. In the meantime, come on down and check out Calgary's newest independent bookstore! Not only is the staff friendly and knowledgeable, they also reminded me that as well as being the former home of Interfaith Thrift Stores, the very spot in which I worked many years ago, the store was once the site of the infamous Parkside Contintental. Ah, yes, I'd forgotten about the Parkside. We used to go on Sunday nights sometimes to catch the drag queen shows and to drink. This was in the days before you could go to a bar on Sundays in Alberta -- imagine. Seems kind of quaint and old-fashioned now.

Anyway. Speaking of long-ago things, as is my wont, a reminder about Cow Town / Punk Town, the program that Dan Hayes of the Golden Calgarians and myself are doing as part of Calgary Public Library's One Book, One Calgary event on November 6th. I will read from Love Minus Zero and Dan has set up a rockin' multimedia show. Punk out!

Speaking of Love Minus Zero, I'm doing a book club meeting Tuesday night for a lovely woman I know, wife of a colleague of my husband's, and a very cool librarian. Looking forward to it!

Finally, tomorrow's civic election day in Alberta. I look forward to exercising my right to vote, and hope we get a good voter turnout this time around.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

NoveList; Tofurkey time once again; writing and research

Like many writers, I get a charge out of seeing where references to my books crop up. That's the kind of thing we get excited about. Lately I came across Love Minus Zero's listing in NoveList, a library reference tool that I used to use a lot in my days at Calgary Public Library. Someone can come up and say, "I want to read a first novel about a conflicted female old school punk rocker" and, voila, there will be my book. Nice stuff.

So here we are first week of October and the weather is absolutely gorgeous. Typical -- freezing, dark summer followed by warm, sunny fall. Oh, well. I'm thankful it's nice now. Thankful for a lot of things actually, and of course, Thanksgiving weekend approaches. Tofurky is already in the freezer.

Working away on the novel. Sometimes. It hasn't always been easy these days, with my mom's ALS and all, to stay focused. On the other hand, sometimes writing is kind of a refuge. Then again, there's always 'research' which I've been doing a fair bit of these last couple of weeks. This has entailed reading books, listening to CDs and watching movies. Work, work, work. But hey -- it's got to be done, right?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Launches; WitWorks 4 in the works

It wouldn't be fall without book launches, and I'm looking forward to the launch of Lee Kvern's new novel, The Matter of Sylvie, at Shelf Life Books, corner of 13th Ave and 4 St. SW at 7 PM this Thursday. I'm also interested to see what Shelf Life is like -- not only is it Calgary's newest bookstore, it's also located in the very spot where the Interfaith Thrift Store I used to work in many years ago was. Other upcoming launches include Maureen Bush's new YA novel Cursed! on October 16th at Monkeyshines Books, and Rona Altrows' new collection of short fiction, Key in Lock, at Memorial Park Library on Oct. 23rd. Nothing more fun than a good launch. Assuming I stay well enough to go to any of them. It also wouldn't be fall without colds and flu, and Dan is home today with some kind of nasty cold, which I've been staving off with Cold FX.

Speaking of Memorial Park Library, Writing in the Works 4 is set to take place there on Saturday, May 14th, 2011 at 1:30 PM. This year's lineup is comprised of Naomi K. Lewis, Leslie Gavel, Susan Calder, Inge Trueman and myself. Always a great show!

Well, speaking of writing, that's what I ought to be doing right now.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Another W-i-R; Punk History; WitWorks 4 looms

Enjoyed a reading last Saturday by Gail Bowen at the launch of her new book The Nesting Dolls and the kickoff of her term as this year's Writer-in-Residence for Calgary Public Library. She will be giving manuscript consultations and giving a variety of programs until the end of November. If you have a manuscript you want some feedback on, I'd encourage you to get it in early as the spaces do fill up.

Speaking of Calgary Public Library, as I mentioned earlier Dan Hayes of The Golden Calgarians and myself are putting on a program entitled Cow Town / Punk Town on November 6th, as part of CPL's inaugural One Book, One Calgary project. Aritha van Herk's Mavericks is the book this year, and it's inspired the library to put together a whole slew of really interesting programs. Looking forward to reminiscing...or trying to. I'll be reading and Dan and his lovely assistant Christine are putting together a really rockin' multimedia thing. Should be a blast.

In mundane daily news, chugging away on this novel revision, which I'm hoping to have wrapped up once and for all by next spring. I was a little bit afraid that I'd been away from it for too long and that the whole thing would have gone cold for me. But actually, I think I have abundant objectivity now and am able to make some big changes -- improvements, one hopes.

My mom is hanging in there, but her ALS continues to progress and almost weekly she loses more and more physical capabilities. It's meant lots of challenges, no question. I have to hand it to her, though -- she is coming through this with grace and dignity intact, as well as her sense of humour. Food for thought indeed. All of this has had me thinking about the nature of compassion quite a bit, and I happened to come across The Charter for Compassion a little while ago. That food for thought is everywhere, I tell you.

Finally, looking forward to a beer tomorrow eve with my friends on the Writing in the Works organizing committee. Watch for our fourth annual fabulous showcase of local writing coming out sometime in the spring. Seems far away right now, but you know how that goes.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

CAA w-i-r; Key in Lock; Bottled Poets, etc.

So here's the contact for Rona Altrows if anyone is interested in sending her a manuscript through the Canadian Authors Association Writer-in-Residence program:

She can give you details on manuscript length, appointment times and so on. Rona's got a busy fall coming up this year, kind of like me last year, in that as well as doing this residency, she's also bringing out her second book of short fiction, Key in Lock, being published by Calgary's own Recliner Books. Yeah! Looking forward to the launch: 2 PM, Saturday Oct. 23 at Memorial Park Library, 1221- 2 St. SW.

As usual, school's back in session, and the weather turns from August-miserable to September-gorgeous. And here I am with my nose to the grindstone. The proverbial grindstone. Not that I'm complaining. I'm trying to be mindful lately, to stay in the moment; my mother's illness has certainly made me realize of late the importance of staying in the moment. Yes, I could have been looking at life this way for the previous forty-seven years. But. At least I'm starting to figure it out a little -- is that to my credit? Anyway, happy to look at the blue sky from my office window, indeed.

Aritha van Herk's talk for AWCS last Saturday was great; very refreshing and down-to-earth. And here's an awesome picture, unphotoshopped, of the old Inglewood Bottle Depot a little ways down the street from the Alexandra Centre, courtesy of my pal Jan Markley over at Three Dead Moths in my Mailbox. Enjoy:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stevie Ray; Virginsfest; Aritha van Herk; CAA W-i-R 2010 - 2011

Can't let this day go by without a tip of the hat to Stevie Ray Vaughan, massively talented blues guitarist who died in a helicopter crash twenty years ago today. I saw him and his band Double Trouble play at the Jubilee Auditorium, of all places, in 1984. The air was blue with dope smoke, and Stevie Ray put on an amazing show. They kicked down the baffles the Jube staff had put up in front of their stacks and went for it. A great evening.

Had a swell time with members of The Virgins (and our later incarnation, The Strangeloves) over drinks last night. We tried to hang out on the deck in my backyard but it was just too windy. Calgary.

Heading to the Alexandra Centre tomorrow for a talk by Aritha van Herk on Writing: The Dubious Occupation . Indeed it is.

Finally, I'm happy to announce that my friend and colleague Rona Altrows will be acting as Canadian Authors Association's Calgary Writer-in-Residence for the 2010 - 2011 term, starting Sept. 15th. Congratulations, Rona! I encourage anyone who may be looking for feedback on their work or a friendly ear to submit your work to her. We're fortunate to have these kinds of opportunities in Calgary -- take advantage!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Archeaology; Return of the Natives; Now what?

Adele Wolfe, old chum and former Virgins' bassist and vocalist, dug up some of our old gig posters and stuck them up on Facebook, so I thought I'd repost them here for poster-ity:

I made this one for a show we were going to play at our high school. It was cancelled due to the furor the poster itself caused, but the music teacher got us a gig at the Stampede to make up for it.

This one I made for a memorable show at Hillhurst Sunnyside where we jettisoned black bras into the audience at the end of our set. Silicone Injection's set was brought to an abrupt halt by the arrival of the police, who shut the place down and poured out all the booze. The Verdix never did play that night. The photo of us that ran with the The Calgary Herald article last year was taken outside the hall before this show.

Finally, I didn't make this poster (Mark I., perhaps?) but I did have it hanging in my room for a long time. On the other hand, I have no memory of this show at all. Hmmph.

So, there you go. A little blast from the past. These ought to come in handy for the program Dan Hayes of The Golden Calgarians and I are doing for Calgary Public Library on ancient Calgary punk in November. More about which later.

Other news: we made it back from Van Isle without incident and now it seems like we were never gone. The usual thing, you know. Last week I managed to get a grant application wrapped up and finished off a new story which I've submitted to a hopefully-forthcoming anthology. Thanks to Diane and Rona for your help with it.

Funny how things go. I'm facing a period of uncertain length where I will be just writing -- not teaching, or promoting a new book or working on edits for a forthcoming one -- just writing. And as it turns out, my mom's ALS seems to be  progressing fairly rapidly at this point.  So I will definitely be spending some time in the coming months visiting her and taking care of a number of matters for her. Although I'm not actually glad this is happening, I'm glad it's happening now and not in the previous two years -- it would have been a lot harder. So for that, and many other things, I am grateful.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Island; Canadian Literature

Been on Vancouver Island the last week. Enjoyed Nanaimo, Tofino and Ucluelet over the weekend and early part of this week. Cold and foggy out on the west side, especially since we camped at Pacific Rim National Park three nights. Now we're back on the mild and calm east side, hoping to visit Comox and Mount Washington tomorrow. More Qualicum and Bowser relaxing until Monday when we go to Victoria for three days starting Monday and then make the trek back to Alberta starting Thursday.

I was very pleased to see Timothy Dugdale's review of  Love Minus Zero (along with Silver Salts by Mark Blagrave) for an upcoming issue of Canadian Literature, available on the web here. Cool!

Well, enough of this stuff. Too much like work. Back to relaxing!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Betty's Run; Summertide; Beer; Writing

This year's Betty's Run for ALS raised almost $400,000. When the website is updated I'll link to it here. Thanks again to everyone who made a donation on behalf of my mom. Took my dog along for the walk and I was amazed at the number of other participants who were there for someone else. It certainly puts things into perspective, something that I've really needed lately. For a supposedly rare condition, it amazes me how many people I talk to who know someone who's had to deal with it.

In other news, summer is upon us again and now that Nick and Dan are becoming more prodigious sleepers I find myself defaulting to my natural sleep patttern, which is heading to bed around 12:30 - 1:00 and getting up around 8:30. We are looking forward to setting off for Van Isle later in the month.

Went to a session on crafting an Alberta Foundation for the Arts grant proposal last night (this is what I'm supposed to be doing right now) and picked up some tips. Then headed out for beer with Rona and Maureen. Yum. Talked books all night of course. What else is there?

And have been doing pretty well, I think, with ye olde writing. Pumped out the first draft of another (!) new story for a proposed anthology I've been invited to submit to. And yes, there's that novel, which I'll be getting back at as soon as I get this grant application off the ground. Really. Speaking of which...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Exporting Alberta; Betty's Run; Alberta Acrostic

These are the flowers my good friend Suzanne Harris took home after reading for me at the Canadian Authors Association Exporting Alberta Awards ceremony in Edmonton on Friday night. And although Nothing Sacred did not win the award, I am very pleased to say it did get Honourable Mention. And now I have these flowers to enjoy forever, how about that?

So on June 13th I'm taking part in Betty's Walk / Run for ALS in Calgary. My mother was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) in November and I feel this is at least something constructive I can do. Things like this put everything into perspective, no question.

On the lighter side, today my copy of Alberta Views magazine arrived  and get this, Love Minus Zero is the subject of the monthly acrostic puzzle. There's a quote from the book (the bit about Alberta blowing up hospitals and never changing the government -- yeah!) and the first letter of the clues spell out my name and the title of the book. Honestly, it was the weirdest thing to do this puzzle. Weird but fun.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fiddlehead review; WitWorks 3 rocked it!; I wrote a story!

Thanks to The Fiddlehead and Ian Colford for the great review of Love Minus Zero in the spring issue. You can't actually read the review there, but you can see the table of contents. What I've read of the issue so far is excellent. Perhaps you should just run out and buy it.

Our third annual Writing in the Works event at Memorial Park Library on Thursday night was a huge success. We had a big crowd, awesome readings, tasty refreshments and succulent Wild Rose beers at the Hop In Brew Pub afterward. Nice work, everyone!

Finished that story I was working on, with the help of my dear friend, Diane Girard. It's on its way, in the mail. That does feel good.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bridesmaid; Writing in the Works 3, yet; Weird!

The family and I had a great time in Edmonton last weekend, and although I did not win the Georges Bugnet award (Michael Davie was the winner for Fishing For Bacon), I am still honoured to have made it on to the shortlist at all. Congratulations once again to all the winners and shortlistees. Good to catch up with all my Edmonton friends and of course visit the mind-boggling West Edmonton Mall. Whoa, WEM -- build another couple of washrooms, eh? Standing in line at a mall? I don't think so.

Tonight is the third annual Writing in the Works event, 7 PM at Memorial Park Library, 1221 - 2 St SW. This year's lineup is Faye Reineberg Holt, Elaine Morin, Jane Cawthorne, Donna Sales and Judith Galbraith. And I am pleased to say that this evening I am not reading. I'll be hanging around whining, getting in people's way and helping myself to the wine. Heh. Seriously, come on down for some fine readings, vino and snacks, book sales and camaraderie.

Finally, on to the weird part: I'm almost done (I think) a short story. Haven't written one of those, or any fiction in fact, since last summer. It did feel good to get through it, since I was kind of afraid I'd forgot how to do it. It's now in the hands of my gracious first reader. Phew!

Well, best get ready for the show, now.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Shortlist readings; Gala; snow again

The Calgary Shortlist readings event at 100 Wines turned out to be a lot of fun. Good readings, good wine, good food and a nice turnout for the event. And here I am, eating the mike and standing in front of more Dom Perignon than I ever dreamed of. Thanks to my intrepid photographer, Jan Markley.

It already seems so long ago, maybe because it actually wasn't snowing that day. But it wouldn't be the month of May in Calgary if we didn't have some wet snow. And having it we are. That is all I'm going to say about it.

So next up is the Writers Guild of Alberta's Literary Awards Gala, May 14th in Edmonton. Looking forward to that very much. There are going to be a lot of Calgarians in the crowd -- hell, there'll be a lot of Calgarians at my table -- and we intend to rock it. Should be a blast!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Alberta Literary Awards Calgary Shortlist Readings This Friday!


Friday, April 30, 2010
100 Wines
1109 Olympic Way SE, Calgary
Free admission & open to the public

As a prelude to this year's Alberta Literary Awards Gala—come out and raise your glasses to the 2010 nominated authors at Calgary's exquisite 100 Wines.  The celebration will feature a complimentary wine tasting and tapas (tasty!), wine & literary pairings (fun!), a series of slam readings (entertainment!), book sales courtesy of Owl’s Nest Books (shopping!), and an opportunity to relax and socialize with friends.  Many of the shortlisted authors will be available for signings.  Nominated readers include Will Ferguson, Lori Hahnel and Lee Kvern among others—check out the full shortlist here:

For catering purposes, please RSVP to
Venue, map & parking info:
(or call the store at 403 452 8820)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Calgary shortlist readings Friday April 30th

Calgary shortlistees for this year's Alberta Literary Awards are reading this Friday night, April 30th, at 7PM. The venue is 100 Wines, 1109 Olympic Way SE, the same place the Wine and Literary Pairings event was last winter. Looks like Calgarians are dominating the awards this year (hee hee), with fifteen of us reading on Friday, including Bob Stallworthy, Betty Jane Hegerat, Will Ferguson, Cecelia Frey, Lee Kvern and me. Plus wine and tapas! Sounds like a great party to me. Then we'll all be heading up to Edmonton May 14th for the WGA's Awards Gala. More fun!

In the meantime, I enjoyed the Alexandra Writers' Shining Stars Event on the 16th and am in the thick of preparing notes for my weekend intensive, Life Into Story, which is set to run May 28 - 30th. No rest for the wicked, eh? So I guess I'd better get back to work.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Love Minus Zero review; AWCS events; W-i-R wrap up

Dave Williamson reviews Love Minus Zero in Prairie Fire Review of Books. Thanks again to Prairie Fire  -- it's great the book is still getting reviews.

Instructor reading at the Alexandra Writers Centre on Friday night was a fun time, as was a Kilkenny at The Hose and Hound afterward. Next Friday it's the Alexandra Writers Shining Stars event, 7 PM at the Alexandra Centre, 922 - 9 Ave. SE. Looks like a great lineup of readers!

Getting ready for my last batch of residency-related writer meetings at the library this afternoon. I have one more manuscript to read and then the job is officially wrapped up. I hope the writers I consulted with got as much out of the experience as I did. I think everybody involved benefitted. Now I can concentrate on preparing for my AWCS workshop at the end of May. And after that, maybe I'll write something. That would be cool.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Seattle, Shortlist

Just back from a spring break trip to Seattle with the family. We had a fabulous time. It was our first time there; so many cool things to see and do. But we were unanimous in our choice for best Seattle attraction: The Experience Music Project, an interactive museum dedicated to rock music. Wow, unbelievably cool stuff like a whole gallery devoted to Jimi Hendrix's guitars, for instance (or the remaining pieces of them, in some cases). Could have spent days there. Spent a few bucks in the shop, though we really held back. Kinda sorry I didn't buy the Axis: Bold as Love lunchbox, but I guess I can live without it.

Anyway, now it's April 1 and I can finally announce that Nothing Sacred is on the shortlist for one of this year's Alberta Literary Awards, the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction. The complete list of shortlistees is here. The competition is pretty stiff, but it's a great honour just to be on the shortlist. Lots of excitement until the winner is announced at the Literary Awards Gala in Edmonton on May 14. Shortlistees will be reading in Calgary at 7 PM, April 30th, at 100 Wines, 1109 Olympic Way SE. Come on down and buy some fine books by some fine Calgary writers!

That's three readings for me this month, along with the events I'm doing with the Alexandra Writers on April 9 and 16th. Crazy stuff.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Program a success; AWCS events; Last call

So last week's Canadian Authors Association and Calgary Public Library spring writing program with my friend  and colleague Rona Altrows went over quite well. We were pleased with the response and I think the participants were quite happy with the presentations. And they were the first events put on in Calgary by Canadian Authors Association in over thirty years, how about that?

I will be reading at the Alexandra Writers Centre Society spring instructor reading and registration night at 7:30 on Friday, April 9th and again the following Friday, April 16th, 7:00, at the Alexandra Writers Shining Stars event. Both events take place in the Rose Room, main level, 922 - 9 Ave. SE. And speaking of AWCS, their spring course schedule is now up, including my weekend intensive workshop, Life Into Story, which goes May 28 - 30.

And, last call. Once again, March 31 is my submission deadline for manuscripts if you'd like to have a free writer-in-residence consultation with me (details on the right-hand side of this page). I encourage you to send your submissions now, since slots are filling up, my hours are limited, and it's possible I may have to start turning people away before the end of the month.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rona Altrows Writing Program March 9th & 13th; Residency begins to wind down

Gearing up for Canadian Authors Association and Calgary Public Library's spring writing program with Calgary author Rona Altrows. Part I, The Self-Reliant Writer, is Tuesday, March 9th, 6 - 7:30 PM (free admission) and Part II, Getting Your Work Out There, is a full-day workshop on Saturday March 13th, 10:30 - 4:30; $40 for CAA members, $70 for nonmembers (lunch included). Both run at Memorial Park Library, lower level 1221 - 2 St. SW. To register, email

In other news, March 31 is my submission deadline for manuscripts if you'd like to have a free writer-in-residence consultation with me. If you do have something, I encourage you to send it now, since slots are filling up and my hours are limited. Don't want to have to turn anyone away!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rona Altrows program; send me your stuff; Life Into Story again

Only about three weeks now until Canadian Authors Association and Calgary Public Library's spring writing program with Rona Altrows. Part I, The Self-Reliant Writer, is Tuesday, March 9th, 6 - 7:30 PM (free admission) and Part II, Getting Your Work Out There, is a full-day workshop on Saturday March 13th, 10:30 - 4:30; $40 for CAA members, $70 for nonmembers (lunch included). Both run at Memorial Park Library, lower level 1221 - 2 St. SW. To register, email

Busy still with manuscripts and writer meetings -- if you do want to send me something, send it now because my cut-off date is March 31, and if I find myself swamped with submissions then I may not get to read all of them. Details on the right hand side of this page.

The Alexandra Writers Centre has convinced me to expand Life Into Story, the one-day workshop I presented in the fall into a weekend intensive workshop, which will run Friday - Sunday, May 28 - 30th. Also with AWCS, I will be reading along with other instructors and members at their Alexandra Shining Stars event (like the sound of that!) on Friday, April 16th. I'll link to both these events as details become available.

All for now. Over and out.

Monday, February 8, 2010

February fog and frost and looking ahead to spring

Full house for the program I presented at Calgary Public Library on Saturday. I had fun and I'm pretty sure the audience did, too. People asked some very interesting questions. I hung around for some of the other sessions Saturday and they also seemed to go over very well. Looks like Writers' Weekend was a success, and I hope CPL can do it again next year.

For now, I'm plugging away at manuscripts for my CAA residency. The deadline for receiving submissions is March 31, so if you've been putting off sending one I encourage you to do so now. Also looking forward to the program Rona Altrows is presenting for CAA here in Calgary next month.

Even further down the road is Writing in the Works III, slated for the night of May 20th at Memorial Park library. Check here later for a full roster of this year's readers. Should be a great show.

Yawn. February so far has been foggy and frosty. Spring seems far away at this point. Must be why I'm thinking about spring.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

This week's newsreel

January's almost done. It went by in a blur, a cold, busy blur, and I can't really say I'll miss it. So goodbye already, January.

Thanks to Laurie Fuhr at FFWD for giving my residency a boost in this week's column, as well as for running an excerpt from Nothing Sacred. It all helps.

One space left in the program I'm doing at Calgary Public Library on February 6th. Any takers? So far, it looks like the Writers Weekend is going to be a success. Looking forward to it.

Canadian Authors Association Alberta Branch website has posted details on the program we're offering on March 9th and 13th with Rona Altrows. Space is limited, so register early.

Going to hit the Literary Roundtable event at the Barley Mill tonight hosted by the Writers Guild of Alberta. Looking forward to that also.

And finally -- look, here it is in Norwegian. I can't stop.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Histamine; work, work, work; Meine Buch

Had some fun with histamine and antihistamine this week as I experienced my first (and hopefully last) food allergy. My face started to puff up and itch Saturday night and by Tuesday morning I was scaring small children in my doctor's waiting room. Remember Lon Chaney in The Hunchback of Notre Dame? Yes, that face rang a bell for me, all right. But once again, all's well that ends well as I got some heavy-duty antihistamine and cortisone on the job, and managed to identify the culprit fairly quickly. So, no more spirulina supplements for me. And I look almost normal now, so that helps. A baby even smiled at me in the doctor's waiting room this morning.

So back to work as of today. In addition to manuscript consults and meetings, I've been busy organizing a two-part workshop program, Getting Your Work Out There, featuring my good friend and colleague Rona Altrows. The first part will take place the evening of March 9th and the full-day workshop is March 13th, both at Memorial Park Library. I'll link to details as they become available, but if you can't wait to get in, you can email

I am taking part in Calgary Public Library's first Writers' Weekend February 6th and 7th. My program, Ideas Into Story, is Feb. 6th from 10 - 11:30 AM and I'll also be taking part in the Blue Pencil Cafe Feb. 7th from 2 -4 PM. CPL has put together a great roster of readings and programs for this event and I'm pleased to be part of it.

I just can't resist mentioning that Nothing Sacred now shows up on I hope those Germans are ordering up a whole whack of them.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Prairie Fire Review of Books review; Happy New Year

2010 seems to be off to a great start so far with this review of Nothing Sacred in the Prairie Fire Review of Books by Dave Williamson. Cool!

So the holidays are now almost officially over; Bruce returns to work tomorrow and the the boys are not far behind with school on Tuesday. And so back to work for me -- a little attention for my long-neglected second novel, preparing for my Calgary Public Library program, Ideas Into Story, on Februrary 6th and then headlong back into the residency as of Jan. 15th. Work, work, work, as they say.

For now, Happy New Year, all and I hope 2010 turns out to be as good as it looks right now!