My launch on Dec. 8th was a bit of a blur in my own mind - but I've got some photos now to prove that it really did happen. I wish I had a photo of my guests - they were just awesome - and looking back now, I am so grateful to each and every person who came out that snowy December night. Thank you.
And I've got some great news - McNally Robinson - in spite of bankruptcy - is restructuring and I'm on the receiving end! Plus, a school in southern Manitoba has ordered a classroom set of The Kulak's Daughter. I'm just blown away with gratitude!
My 17 year old daughter wanted me to read twilight by Stephenie Meyer and I did and I enjoyed it, but ... it dragged in places for me. I thought it could have been a lot shorter. Still it was a page-turner kind of book and I'll always associate my wrist-rehab with vampires and young love.
I must say I enjoyed the Harry Potter kind of adventure more than this romance story. Now I'm purging myself with a nonfiction book called "Life and Death in the Third Reich," by Peter Fritzsche. Real life monsters. How did my father get sucked into Hitler's vision?
I attended a local workshop last night at Aqua Books. The topic: How to sell yourself, without selling yourself. We were a small group - and most there were young enough to be my children (maybe people, old like me, aren't supposed to be still trying to sell themselves or their ideas).
Little do those youngsters know that age has nothing to do with numbers. Age is more about attitude. Also, I discovered I came from the wrong part of the town. This bookstore tries to ignore people like me living out in the 'burbs. I always find that sort of pre-judging enlightening and amusing. Culture has such snob appeal.
Anyway. Here, in six short points, are Kelly Hughes' secrets to successfully selling one's self. (Nothing too original here, but totally useful, nonetheless.) These points can be applied directly to book marketing.
Thank you, Kelly Hughes (aka Mayor of Winnipeg's Cultural City Hall).
House of Bears by Orysia Dawydiak (Acorn Press) just came out in December. It's a great debut novel written by a PEI author with a Ukrainian heritage. The story itself takes place in Ontario - shuffling between Toronto and a small northern mining community called Copper Creek. But the story also shuffles between the past and the present and so the reader travels overseas to Ukraine and the trauma of war and its consequences. It's a book about the immigrant experience, about family dynamics, and about finding one's self. In spite of many serious issues raised in the book - including suicide and alcoholism - I found myself chuckling as I recognized myself in the protagonist - Luba - reacting to her overbearing mother. Overbearing mother?
House of Bears is the kind of book that stays with you. It makes you think about big things like secrets, shame, and family - and about how love is a complicated dynamic energy that is so aptly expressed in the title of the book.
Life on the couch has been totally fun. The good, or should I say, great, books just keep falling into my lap. What a way to mend a broken bone. I totally escaped with Barrie Summy's 2nd book in her "i so don't do" series with her energetic, charismatic Sherry character. This one, I So Don't Do Spooky is even better than the first of the series - or maybe that's just because I've warmed up to Sherry now and she feels like a crazy, lovable daughter. Very contemporary, very funny. I see the 3rd book in the series will be out in the spring. Can't wait.
I gobbled up another book this past week that somehow got misplaced in my "to read" pile. J. E. MacLeod's Waiting to Score. Wow! This book really impressed me. I couldn't stop reading and then I had to make my 17 year old read it. She usually doesn't go for my suggestions but I know she was up pretty late last night with it. This book's strength is the characters. They are complex, real, and empathetic. Great tension, great upper YA read. (definitely not for middle graders).
J.E. Macleod is from Calgary. I look forward to reading more from her. Hey, and I have another Calgary writer's new book in my reading pile - Leslie Carmichael's The Amulet of Amon-Ra.
I met Bev at a TLA conference back in 2008. We got to speak on a panel about cultural diversity. We're also fellow Blooming Tree authors. I was eager to read her book and it's been well worth the long wait. If I could use only one word to describe Bev it'd be dynamic - and this same dynamic energy flows through her debut novel, Haven. Her characters are strong and totally engaging. The pacing just pulled me along. Everytime I finished a chapter, I'd want to start the next. The plot surprises are well crafted and the resolution satisfies (don't want to give the ending away).
But what really blew me away were the metaphors. They sparkled. Nothing is more jarring than an out-of-place comparison. But Bev has a gift for showing feelings and character by giving vivid images. Let me give an example (or two):
"All the talk of jail and Britt's burns and rotten mothers weighed on me, like one of those lead blankets the dentist puts on you for x-rays." (chapter 16).
Or, back in chapter 10, where she describes Stark: "His bright blue eyes on his oil-smudged face looked like two patches of fresh sky surrounded by thunderheads."
Bev's writing reminds me of Stark's eyes - fresh and bright. May her career as a novelist will continue to sparkle. Go, Bev!
I visited the Assiniboine Park Zoo here in Winnipeg last week. The coordinator at the Immigrant Centre where I volunteer had given us passes...