People create books and books create people

 

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Watch out for Arif Anwar in 2018!

The Storm Book Cover

The Toronto Public Library, an institution all Torontonians are very proud of, has compiled its list of 10 New Canadian Novels it is particularly looking forward to in 2018. On this list, The Storm, by Arif Anwar. Pre-order now from your favourite book retailer. Out in Canada on March 13th and in the US on May 15th.

Hey folks, I know this guy. He’s in our writing group!

Writing Groups

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Photo by JS
In my view, a successful writing group is one where the #1 goal is to make everybody’s writing stronger while giving other writers license to accept or reject our recommendations 
 
I have been blessed with belonging to two such groups, one that still keeps in touch and meets socially, while the other – First Page – is still going strong after 6 years. We meet every two weeks at someone’s house and take turns giving feedback and having a discussion about two submissions of twenty pages or less each. Since we’re only 7 members, our turns come up fairly often!
 
Thanks everyone! My writing and my stories are so much stronger than they would be were I still taking this long journey alone. We’ve come a long way together, haven’t we?

Happy news: two First Page members have books coming out!
 
Unfinished DollhouseMichelle Alfano’s memoir of gender and identity, The Unfinished Dollhouse, published by Cormorant Books, came out last month to glowing reviews in both the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star.

Michelle, we’re so proud of what you’ve accomplished! TUD was already very good when we read it as submissions, and now that you’ve added more of the insights you and Frankie’s father have gained along the way, your memoir is simply superb!
 
Link to my review on Goodreads will appear in an upcoming post.
 
The Storm Book CoverSecond good news: Arif Anwar’s debut novel, The Storm, will be available in Canada (Harper Collins Canada) on March 13th, 2018, and in the US (Simon & Shuster), on May 15th, 2018. Pre-order at all major online bookstores!
 
More happy news: Michelle Boone, another member, had a short story published in The Danforth Review earlier this year. It’s called Full Submission. Read it here!
 
secret_music_coverAnd this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Susan Doherty Hannaford, member of my first writing group, whose first novel, A Secret Music, came out in 2015, is the Winner of the 2016 Grace Irwin Prize and was shortlisted for the 2017 Frank Hegyi Award for Emerging Authors! Publisher: Cormorant Books. Again!
 
So thrilled for these fabulous honours, Susan!
 

The Creative Writer as Voyeur

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The Aunties, National Palace Museum, Taipei – Photo by JS

I was in Taiwan recently and, looking through the pictures I took, found a few where I’d snapped groups of strangers.

Who are you and what brought you there? All delightful possibilities for the imagination to explore.

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Schoolgirls 1, Chung Ching Shrine, Taipei, Photo by JS
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Schoolgirls 2, Chung Ching Shrine, Taipei – Photo by JS
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Railway Lunch, Fenchihu Station, Alishan – Photo by JS
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Sightseeing in Style, National Palace Museum, Taipei – Photo by JS

Thanks for the memories, fellow travelers!

p.s.: I’ve done my best to blur all faces.

Temporal Point-of-view; Upcoming Reading

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Autumn’s glory in Stanley Park, Vancouver, 2016 – Photo by JS

Less noticeable than who steers the narrative – a first person narrator, say, or an omniscient third person narrator – is the point in time from which a story is told. Have years passed and is the storyteller, older and wiser, revisiting her youth, as in Lee Harper’s To Kill a Mockingbird, or is the story unfolding in present time with no hindsight to call upon – except for portions told in flashback? Something to ponder as we go about crafting our stories.

Meanwhile I’d like to invite everyone in the Toronto area to Draft 12.1 on Sunday October 23rd, 3 pm, at the Flying Pony, an artist-run gallery at 1481 Gerrard Street East, west of Coxwell. The event will include readings by:

Karen Mulhallen

Josée Sigouin

Teri Vlassopoulos

Bänoo Zan

This will be my second reading at Draft. Thank you, Draft collective! My first was on October 31st, 2010 – Halloween – and the theme was Death! Back then my novel was entitled Intersection rather than The Fifth Season, and the excerpt I read here and here were narrated from a different point in time. The set-up is explained in the first video but what counts here is that my male protagonist, Adam, was in North America and had recently met female protagonist, Joanne, before he flash-backed to an earlier love interest and a dramatic event connected to it.

In the current version of the story, Adam is back in his home country, South Korea. The flashback occurs a whole year later and is motivated by trying to grapple with the novel’s central dilemma more than Adam’s poor track record with relationships.

In any event, I’m not planning to read the re-imagined version of this scene but, rather, the opening chapter of The Fifth Season narrated by Joanne. The temporal point-of-view should be be obvious in the first minute or two. If you come, let’s talk about it at the break!

Exhausting the Wind

The wind ruffles curtains
And sweeps dust bunnies under beds.
The wind gusts.
The wind puffs sails
And cartwheels through wheat fields.
The wind booms.
The wind knocks chairs down
And wrestles tables to the ground.
The wind keens.
The wind whistles past windows
And moans through roof rafters.
The wind sighs.
The wind rushes through leaves
And gallops between houses.
The wind wallops.
The wind lifts up my skirt
And whips my hair into my mouth.
The wind drives.
The wind slips through cracks
And coats the floors with grit.
The wind swirls.
The wind swings weathervanes
And chatters through blind slats.
The wind races.
The wind fans flames
And slams doors shut.
The wind roars.
The wind funnels through streets
And hurtles across public squares.
The wind growls.
The wind tears through backyards
And strips sheets off clotheslines.
The wind hisses.
The wind lashes across lakes
And slashes old flags in half.
The wind dries.
The wind desiccates the ground
And mops sweat off my brow.
The wind whispers.
The wind whooshes past my ears
And blows cool on my cheeks.
The wind wafts.
The wind carries the scent of curry
And makes us all hungry.
The wind caresses.
The wind brushes eyelashes
And tickles wind chimes.
The wind retreats.
The wind recedes as the sun sets.
The wind dies.