This coming Saturday is the day to get thee to your local independent bookstore!
I will be at THE AVID READER MAGAZINES & BOOKS in Cobourg, Ontario.
I’ll be signing my books and promoting 5 of my favourite books – From NOON to 2PM.There will be copies of both of my latest young adult novels available! BURN BABY BURN BABY and HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN.
If you are in the area, I’d love to see you! If not…make sure to visit your local indi-bookstore on SATURDAY MAY 2nd! This is a cross-country event…a day to celebrate the bookstore!
The schedule for authors appearing at Avid Reader on Saturday is as follows:
This past weekend, I attended the Ontario Writers’ Conference at Deer Creek Golf & Banquet Facility in Ajax, Ontario. The theme this year was WRITER AS WITNESS. Oddly, this was a subject I covered in my most recent (and upcoming) WCDR Wordweaver newsletter article. I am feeling a heavy weight of late. That weight being the responsibility the writer has to bear witness to the life around them…to echo it forward for others to examine. It could not have been a more fitting and timely theme for me.
My first experience with the theme came Friday afternoon when I arrived at Deer Creek for the Masterclass with Richard Scarsbrook. It was subtle at first. I suppose it was simply in the act of showing up. One cannot bear witness if one does not show up. I felt this overwhelming spirit within me, growing as the day went on. I was in the place I knew I needed to be. I had surrounded myself with the people I knew I needed to surround myself with. My people.
After the Masterclass, and a quick meal, came the Friday evening FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS event. I was immediately reunited with my friend and mentor, Wayson Choy. As we embraced and began to talk, I realized something. I had been keeping Wayson at arms length throughout the years. For no other reason than because I had put him on a pedestal. He is a beacon in the Canadian literary landscape. So in admiring him, I had not allowed us to connect on a deeper level.
When Wayson said, “I’m sitting with you! Come on, where should we sit?” I knew the pedestal between us was unnecessary. This lovely man who had always presented himself with a heart wide open wanted to chat with me. And, of course, I wanted to chat with him. He’s a fascinating and interesting man. And, like nobody else…he listens. He is a writer who fully understands and embraces this year’s OWC theme. Mr. Choy bears witness every day.
After a lovely evening of authors at the festival, I was eager with anticipation for Saturday to arrive. The full day conference! And it began with a bang for me. I was a Manuscript Mentor this year. I had meetings with three different writers, where they presented me with three pages from their works in progress and I offered feedback and advice. And each piece had a unique and exciting voice. I was well pleased to be able to bear witness to their words. It must be an incredibly difficult thing to do…to present yourself to a stranger and entrust your work to them at a vulnerable time when you’re in a new and unfamiliar setting. It was an absolute pleasure to read their words.
From there, I went on to a workshop with Andrew Borkowski. I first met Andrew when he and I were both doing a reading at McLaughlin Literary Festival at McLaughlin House in Oshawa, Ontario…way back in 2011. I was taken with his reading…not only were the words amazing, but the delivery of them was flawless. I was on the Board of Directors for the Ontario Writers’ Conference at the time…and I struck up a conversation with Andrew about the possibility of him doing a workshop at the conference. All the board members had their antennae up back in those days…scouting talent for our beautiful new baby. Andrew fit the bill flawlessly.
Andrew has been with the OWC ever since. He consistently delivers amazing workshops for the organization. He has become a favourite of the conference attendees, myself included. This year, he wowed us with a workshop on DIALOGUE. It was informative and hands-on. I even got to read aloud a piece I wrote during the class, with Andrew taking on one of the two roles in the conversation. The workshop truly ignited the writer in me. I felt ready to bear witness…
I attended two other workshops… a short-story workshop by another conference favourite– Gwynn Scheltema. I left that one ready to submit my shorts! Gwynn is one of the writing instructors with WRITESCAPE.CA The other, from the lecture series, was with literary agent Olga Filina of The Rights Factory. I really loved her talk on all things YA and MG markets. I found it both informative and entertaining. Three for three!
Add in the amazing buffet lunch (the best meal yet out of all the years I attended the conference), a great luncheon speaker in Linden MacIntyre and an equally wonderful closing speaker in Paula Todd…and it was an out-of-the-park success this year. Both Linden and Paula were edgy, hard-hitting and thematically on-course. Add in the prizes, the always fantastic emcee DOROTHEA HELMS, and, of course, the annual message of hope, love, praise, and inspiration by the Honorary Patron himself, Wayson Choy, and you have a perfect celebration of words.
And if all those things were not enough to make my day a magical one, I also had the company of friends. Old ones, new ones, close ones…some from near, some from far. Every year I find myself saying, “This was the best year yet!” But it was, it really was. I was open to this one so much, so ready to bear witness. Thanks to the organizing committee of the OWC for making this year so incredibly special. And thank you for allowing me to be a small part of it by taking me on as Manuscript Mentor…it was an honour and a joy.
When a poet makes a list, death cannot be far behind. He says, I will go here and there, I will see this and I will touch that. But that is all, that is all he will stay for, he is a poet at the end of his life. He has better things to do than live. These are the things he has promised himself. He makes a list of all the things. And quietly checks them off, one at a time. He hears the clock ticking down, knows it’s time to slip into that well worn funereal suit. But he is reluctant to go, he adds to his list. I have not yet seen this, I have not yet touched that, Things will be different,
if only I touch that one last thing. And then he’s in the mountains one day and he shouts and shouts, and no man, no woman, no child responds. He knows he is utterly alone, but this time he remembers that it has always been this way. Alone is no longer lonely, he steps in the puddle at his feet, decides he does not need the list.
He sits and adds all the things to a new list, this one of reasons
not to die just yet.
Poetic silence is a three step process.
First step, you must relinquish all tears. They help the words to flow. While you break, words crystallize pretty and big.
Second step, you hold your breath, this is the in-between phase where nothing happens but the passing of time. Healing occurs, like an underwater lake being made into mud as it steams away.
Third step, you have nothing left to say, lost in your own fleeting happiness, the poems run dry
as words left to rot
in a noonday sun. You revel in the joy that incidentally killed them.
I will be participating in this year’s AUTHORS FOR INDIES celebrations! This means I get to be a bookseller for a spell. (-:
Excuse me while I run and put a little something on my bucket list…
There we go! Item #34…covered!
What is Authors for Indies, you may be asking? And why do I get to be a bookseller, you may also be asking? Here’s a bit of a rundown…
Authors for Indies is a way for all of us to celebrate our local independent bookstores. Saturday May 2nd is Canadian Authors for Indies day. I don’t know about you, but I grew up in bookstores. It was nothing to wile away a few hours sniffing books, caressing pages, reading jacket covers and taking home prized possessions.
Authors across this great nation of ours will be volunteering as GUEST BOOK SELLERS at independent bookstores throughout the day on May 2nd. Which is why I will be a bookseller. I will be at THE AVID READER MAGAZINES & BOOKS book shop in Cobourg, Ontario. And I will be there to recommend my TOP 5 books! And I will also have a few of my own books available for purchase through the store.
If you’re in the Cobourg, Ontario area on Saturday May 2nd…come on in and say hi! I’ll let you know my top five pics for the day. There will be a few other authors joining the Avid Reader team for the day as well…
If you’re not in the Cobourg area, find the closest bookstore in your area (through the extensive list of participating bookstores on the Authors for Indies website) and head on down to it to meet your favourite authors. And bring your friends and family. Bookstores have long been a meeting place for the communities of this country. Show your appreciation on May 2nd by stopping by and joining in on the celebration.
“Is everybody in? Is everybody in? Is everybody in? The ceremony is about to begin. The entertainment for this evening is not new. You’ve seen this entertainment through and through. You have seen your birth, your life, your death….you may recall all the rest. Did you have a good world when you died? Enough to base a movie on?” ~ Jim Morrison, American Prayer
I think about these words by Jim Morrison probably more than I should. To me, they remind me to live in the now…in the light of the day. They prompt me to ask if I’m missing anything. If I’m doing everything I can be doing. For myself. For others.
I am having a sappy day again. A day of pondering… I think about missed opportunities. I think about crushing others and how not to. Walk softly and you will not scatter the dreams of those in your wake. Do unto others. Skip the light fantastic…fandango. Let’s think about life for a while. Every once in a while something comes up that illuminates things for me. Makes me aware. Makes me appreciative. Makes me question my intentions and hope that I’m doing enough. Makes me wonder and wander.
Today, there is no sun shining. But that’s a matter of perspective. It’s always there. It doesn’t go away. If we need a little light in our lives, it’s sometimes up to us to put it there. We can’t wait around for the clouds to dissipate. I tend to lean towards music as therapy for the dark days. I’m pretty sure I mentioned that here before. Nothing brings out the sun better than the right beat. And beautiful lyrics to accompany it.
Like Stevie Wonder says in Sir Duke, “Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand. With an equal opportunity for all to sing, dance and clap their hands…” It truly is a transformative art-form.
Sometimes, it’s not only happy songs that lift me. Sometimes maudlin or thought-provoking does the same thing.
THE THE – Perfect…Oh, what a perfect day To think about my silly world My feet are firmly screwed to the floor What is there to fear from such a regular world? Passing by a cemetery I think of all the little hopes and dreams That lie lifeless and unfilled beneath the soil I see an old man fingering his perishing flesh He tells himself he was a good man and did good things Amused and confused by life’s little ironies He swallows his bottle of distilled damnation
I believe we have one chance to dance this globe. Regrets can eat up a lot of that time. Lord knows I know that truth. But I don’t want to be hopes and dreams lying lifeless and unfulfilled beneath the soil. I want to go to that big sleep having done everything I ever wanted to do. Fearless and tired and ready for the nap… Another THE THE song that I love…
This Is The Day…
Well you didn’t wake up this morning ’cause you didn’t go to bed You were watching the whites of your eyes turn red The calendar on your wall is ticking the days off You’ve been reading some old letters You smile and think how much you’ve changed All the money in the world couldn’t buy back those days
I find their lyrics to be so nostalgia inducing. Not just now, so many years later…but even when I first heard them back in the 80s. I feel like I’m taking a walk in the sunshine, pondering life, when I listen to THE THE.
You pull back the curtains, and the sun burns into your eyes You watch a plane flying across a clear blue sky This is the day your life will surely change This is the day when things fall into place
I’ve always been waiting for that day. But the truth is EVERY DAY CAN BE THAT DAY. Every heartbeat you take is an opportunity. Things can fall into place just as easily on a cloudy day as on a sunny one.
You could’ve done anything, if you’d wanted And all your friends and family think that you’re lucky But the side of you they’ll never see Is when you’re left alone with the memories That hold your life together like glue
We are all members of a collective and simultaneously islands unto ourselves. It’s how we interact that matters. And how we use the time when we are well and truly alone that matters. The last lines above are another example of how perspective is everything. To others, we can appear to contain the sun in our eyes and in our every step. To ourselves, we can be slothing around in a mire of glue…living and reliving bad moments from our past. Or vise-versa. The trick is to find that magical place where we live on the outside as we live on the inside.
To everything, there is a season. Absolutely, there is a time to wallow. Wallowing is therapeutic. But not overly helpful in the grand scheme of things. This life is so precious. We string days together one after the other until we get to the end of the line. And in the end, we don’t want to think, ‘I wish I could have…’ ‘I wanted to…’ ‘I thought I would have been able to…’ etc, etc, etc. We want to have had a good world when we die.
We want the end to be a recollection of the beauty we have amassed. A soft last kiss to send us ever forward into the next adventure. In the end, there is only beauty. The beauty of emotions, the beauty of memories, the beauty of love and light and laughter. The rest? Like the clouds that cover our darker days, it’ll all dissipate. Clouds don’t have the strength to be eternal. Not like light. Not like love.