Breccia: An interview with Ignatius Fay and Irene Golas

Irene Golas discovered the world of haiku when she purchased a slender volume of Japanese nature poetry in a gift shop in Elmvale, Ontario. She was immediately drawn to the brevity and concision of the haiku form. Her first haiku were published in 2005, followed by her first tanka in 2006.

Ignatius Fay is a retired invertebrate paleontologist who began writing haiku and related forms of poetry primarily for his own pleasure and as a means of personal expression. His first published poem appeared in 2008, the same year he published a small book of haiku/senryu, Haiga Moments: pens and lens, with photographs by Ray Belcourt, of Leduc, Alberta. In 2011, he published Points In Between, an anecdotal history of his early years.

Irene and Ignatius have been published in many print and online journals, including Acorn, Eucalypt, Frogpond, and The Heron’s Nest. Irene’s poems have also been chosen for a number of anthologies. Both authors reside in Sudbury, Ontario.

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WG: How long have the two of you been working together?

Irene: I’d known about Ignatius since 2008, but it took me a while to find any contact information. I emailed him in the summer of 2010, asking if he’d be interested in corresponding about the art and craft of haiku. There aren’t many haiku poets in town! At first we talked in general terms about books, haiku and other poetry. Soon we were exchanging haiku books and journals and some of our unpublished work. By the fall of 2011, we had developed a mutual trust and a respect for the other’s judgment. This is when the idea of a collaborative publication first came up.

Ignatius: Irene and I are alike in that we are straightforward when asked an opinion. Our intent is always positive, to help each other become better poets. I don’t think a collaboration would have worked had we not first gone through this process.

WG: Whose idea was Breccia? When did you actually begin work on it?

Ignatius: I suggested we consider doing something jointly. After toying with the idea for a time, we got down to it in January 2012.

Irene: We were ready to prepare the manuscript for publication by the end of July. Since then we’ve spent good chunks of time writing promotional material and otherwise spreading the word about Breccia.

WG: By the way, who came up with the name, Breccia? What is its significance?

Ignatius: Irene suggested the title. She was unfamiliar with the term when she read it in one of my poems. I was referring to the Sudbury Breccia, a rock formation that is part of the Sudbury Basin. Both the basin and the breccia were formed by an asteroid impact about 1.85 billion years ago. The nickel-iron-copper ore bodies of the Sudbury area are all associated with this rock.

A breccia is made up of fragments of preexisting rock that have been re-cemented. By analogy, our collection may be considered a haiku ‘breccia,’ poems from two sources cemented together to form a unique whole.

Irene: When Ignatius sent me his manuscript, there were a few poems about his childhood in Levack. They shone a light on a way of life that was unique. It occurred to me that the Sudbury area should have a larger presence in our book. Sudbury is our home, after all, and has shaped our lives in so many ways. I encouraged Ignatius to write more. He did, expanding his focus to include details of miners’ lives and the changing face of Sudbury. I added several of my own and soon we had a ‘Sudbury Breccia’ section.

WG: This type of collection is rather rare in that it is a collaboration and in the way your poems are intermingled. What made you decide on this format?

Ignatius: Our original intention was to put together a small collection of selected and new haiku and senryu. A poem had to satisfy us both to make the cut. A fair number of poems were edited or rewritten.  We ended up with more good poems than expected. Then we complicated matters by deciding to include tanka and haibun.

Irene: At the same time, we began to discuss layout. We wanted Breccia to be a true collaboration rather than a joint publication with two sections, one for his poems, one for mine. We also wanted something different from the traditional grouping by season, something with a more organic feel. Eventually we decided to integrate our poems, creating several extended sequences in which each poem suggests some relationship to the immediately preceding poem.

WG: Breccia is 208 pages long. That’s a lot of poetry. Did you find the sequencing difficult? How long did it take?

Irene: Sequencing turned out to be the longest part of the process. And the most satisfying. We spent hours trying to get short bits of sequence to feel right, then emailed it to the other. Often the response brought suggested changes. Occasionally, emails passed each other in cyberspace and we found we had very different ideas for the next part of the sequence. This process alone took more than two months.

WG: How did you like the experience of collaboration?

Ignatius: Delightful. We’re a good match. Sure, there was lots of hard work, but we work well together. We share an interest in the English language and a commitment to our art.

Irene is an extremely efficient editor…far better than I. She has such patience and attention to detail. Many of my poems have benefited from her insights. She is straightforward in her criticism, encouraging growth. And she doesn’t hesitate to praise something I’ve written that she likes.

Irene: We both look for honest assessment of our work. We strive for improvement, which includes acknowledging a weakness in our poetry when it is pointed out and being open to editorial suggestions.

WG: Why did you choose to self-publish Breccia?

Irene: We both got the same story when we looked into traditional publishing. Finding a publisher for your first book can be a long, drawn-out process. Then it may take a couple of years for the book to appear. Our biggest concern was getting our work out there. And Ignatius had some experience with the process, which is becoming increasingly popular.

Ignatius: Another problem with using a traditional publisher is the need to travel and do personal appearances to promote the book. My inability to do that lowers our prospects significantly.

WG: This was a strictly do-it-yourself project. Did the two of you also design the cover and do the layout?

Irene: Yes, we did everything. From the beginning, we agreed we wanted this to be 100% our project. But I have to give credit to Ignatius for carrying the weight when it came to the actual layout and other aspects of desktop publishing. He’s been in graphic layout and design for 22 years.

WG: What was the most difficult part of publishing Breccia?

Irene:  Definitely the promotional writing. First we had to distill the essence of what Breccia is about – a slow process. Then we had to present that essence – sell it, really – in a catchy way, often in a hundred words or less. Too often we found ourselves reverting to a dense academic style of writing, or reaching for clichés.

Another challenge was reworking this material into different packages – a flyer, a press release, and at least half a dozen blurbs. To avoid sending out carbon copies, we had to rephrase, augment, emphasize or completely delete things from one piece to the next. A case of “how many ways can you serve hamburger?”

Ignatius: For me, the most difficult part was not being able to work regularly with Irene in person. Face-to-face, so much more can be accomplished in a short time. But my health and Irene’s other obligations were limiting factors.

Thank goodness for email! Much of the work was done through the back and forth of emails. It could be frustrating, waiting for a response or trying to iron out a miscommunication, but it allowed us to proceed. We may never have completed the project without it.

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You can purchase Breccia on Lulu.

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The launch of Dead Air, Pontypool, and other Writerly Goodness

Last night was the official launch of my writer friend Scott Overton’s first novel, Dead Air.  I bought my official copy, Scott signed it, officially, I hung out with the other members of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild who came out to support Scott (his official fan club?), and he even got the official CTV interview 🙂

Before I get to particulars, I wanted to share a few more views of the Living with Lakes Centre at Laurentian University where the launch was held.  Yes, that’s the same place that Scott read with John Forrest and Mark Leslie last week for the LUminaries reading series.

I won’t say that I arrived early, but it looked like I had some time to walk around the grounds and I took a couple of pictures of the centre from a different angle, and then another looking out over Lake Ramsey from the centre’s dock.

Upon entering, I immediately gravitated to the huddle of SWG members.  We chatted and caught up a bit before the flurry of purchasing and signing got underway.

There were beverages, but word soon spread that the caterer hadn’t shown up yet.  Ever the consummate showman, Laurence Steven of Your Scrivener Press gathered the crowd and ushered us into the room for the reading.

One of the SWG members had thoughtfully brought cookies and just as Laurie apologized for the lack of provisions, the caterer arrived, the result of an understandable miscommunication.

With that sorted, Laurie made a brief but gracious introduction of Scott and brought him to the podium.

Scott first introduced his wife, Terry-Lynne, to whom his book is dedicated, his co-host for his morning radio show, and then he read three selections from his novel.  Afterward, he opened the floor to questions.

Scott spoke of his inspiration, the process of writing the novel, and the interesting things he learned on the way.  He also spoke about the editing process and how he and Laurie had negotiated that.

Overall, it was a very entertaining evening.

But I got this cold, see?  So when I got home, I crawled into bed like the little illen-filled chicklet I am and settled in for the evening.  In cruising the channels, I came across Pontypool.

In the movie, adapted from Tony Burgess’s novel of the same name, a morning radio host (sound familiar, Scott?) is trapped in his radio station while people in the town around him succumb to a strange virus.

Far from the scads of zombie-related virus movies, Pontypool takes a left turn.  The virus is spread in the form of words, and the infected begin to babble and fixate on a particular word or sound.  Through the timely visit of a doctor to the studio, the protagonist learns that it is the understanding of a word that seems to trigger the infection and that speaking in another language is an effective means of evading the illness.

As everyone around them succumbs, the protagonist and his producer are hiding from the hordes and she (the producer) begins to babble, “kill, kill, kill …”  The morning man, twigged by the words of the visiting doctor, begins to try to break his producer’s loop, telling her that kill isn’t kill, that it’s sun, dress, flower, and finally he settles on kiss.  Kill is kiss.

He knows he’s been successful when she says, “kill me.”

I just found the premise fascinating.  A semiotic virus.

You may have noticed me dropping that academic bomb from time to time on my blog, and the reason for it is that I love semiotics.  It’s the study of meaning, to put it simply.  Ultimately all language is invented and arbitrary.  Language is a series of signs or symbols that we chose to mean things so that we can communicate with others and think about them.

We accept that the letters D O G spell dog and that means a certain class of canine quadrupeds that many of us choose to coexist with, but why is it dog and not cap or tree of bazooka?  Who came up with the word and why did everyone accept that this wee beastie should be called dog (and not tomato)?

Two things: have you ever repeated a word to yourself over and over again until the word loses all meaning and just becomes a sound?  Have you ever written or typed a word that you’ve written or typed thousands (perhaps millions) of times before only to think immediately that the word is somehow wrong?  Have you been so convinced of this illusion that you look the bloody word up in the dictionary just to make sure you’ve not gone insane?

That’s semiotic confusion, or uncertainty and may just lead to the thought that it’s not the experience that’s the illusion, but all language and meaning lumped together.

That’s the kind of mind-blowing awesome of a movie like Pontypool.  Not to mention the eerie serendipity of coming from the launch of my morning radio show host friend Scott, whose novel is about a morning show host who receives what turns out to be a very serious threat and finding a movie about a morning radio show host in the middle of a semiotic virus breakout.

Gave me dreams, man …

One last thing, well two really, but they’re related.

I’ve been so busy guest blogging, hosting guests, blogging events, and interviewing that I forgot to mention that Brian Braden of Underground Book Reviews interviewed me last week!  And this week, as the result of the number of comments and likes, he’s posted an excerpt from Initiate of Stone, my work in progress.  Sure, he may have misspelled my name, but everyone does 🙂  Hazard of being me.

So if you want to find out what my WIP is made of, go read for yourself!

Need to curl up with my dog and some wicked cold meds.

Shivering yet? Seasonal chill? No, it’s just Dead Air

An interview with Scott Overton.

Scott Overton is a radio morning man on Rewind 103.9 FM in Ontario, Canada, who blames his off-kilter perspective on years of lost sleep from waking at 4:00am. His short fiction has been published in magazines including On Spec and Neo-opsis, and the anthologies Tesseracts Sixteen, and Canadian Tales of the Fantastic, among others. His first novel Dead Air (a mystery/thriller) is now available from Scrivener Press, while several SF novels are looking for good homes in the publishing industry. When not writing, Scott’s passions include scuba diving and a couple of collector cars, in which he hopes to someday find enough story inspiration to make them tax deductible.

Scott’s webpage is www.scottoverton.ca

An interview with Scott Overton.

Scott Overton is a radio morning man on Rewind 103.9 FM in Ontario, Canada, who blames his off-kilter perspective on years of lost sleep from waking at 4:00am. His short fiction has been published in magazines including On Spec and Neo-opsis, and the anthologies Tesseracts Sixteen, and Canadian Tales of the Fantastic, among others. His first novel Dead Air (a mystery/thriller) is now available from Scrivener Press, while several SF novels are looking for good homes in the publishing industry. When not writing, Scott’s passions include scuba diving and a couple of collector cars, in which he hopes to someday find enough story inspiration to make them tax deductible.

Scott’s webpage is www.scottoverton.ca

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Thank you, Scott, for taking the time to visit Writerly Goodness in advance of Dead Air’s launch on October 11, 2012 (Living with Lakes Centre, Laurentian University – be there or be … oblong).  I’m very pleased to have you with me, if virtually.

WG: For those of my readers who may not know what your novel is about, could you give them a brief synopsis?

Scott: Sure. It’s about a radio morning man named Lee Garrett who makes a joke on the radio about a neo-Nazi gang and a few days later he finds a death threat left for him. Then a series of incidents of mischief and vandalism turns into outright attempts on his life. Someone wants him dead, and he doesn’t know who or why.

WG: Where did the idea for Dead Air come from?

Scott: I’m a morning radio broadcaster myself, and I was struck by the vulnerability of even small-scale celebrities. People think they know us, but we don’t know them. And it’s very easy to make an enemy without meaning to, or even knowing that you have. I also wanted to explore how an ordinary person would try to cope with such a devastating threat (as opposed to some Hollywood hero who’d just get a gun and blow the bad guys away).

WG: Writing process is a personal interest of mine.  Would you be able to speak to your process in writing Dead Air?

Scott: It took at least five years to write the first version of Dead Air because I was working full-time and was involved in quite a bit of charity work. I worked on it whenever I could: evenings, weekends, and vacation time, but was impossible for me to stick to a routine because of my other commitments. Fortunately I have an upstairs room that became my study and interruptions were discouraged (even when I was hogging the family’s only computer!)

My writing habits are better now, though I still can’t tolerate any distractions or listen to music. I don’t know how writers can do that and still feel the rhythm of their words.

WG: Dead Air is a thriller, but you’ve had a fair amount of recent publishing success in another genre.  If readers would like to find more of your work, where would they look?

Scott: Everything else I’ve written would be considered science fiction or fantasy, though often with thriller elements. I’ve been fortunate to have seven short stories published and, as a Canadian, I’m particularly proud to have been published in the two top Canadian SF magazines, On Spec (twice) and Neo-opsis, as well as the quintessential Canadian SF anthology series, Tesseracts (I have a story in the latest edition, Tesseracts Sixteen). So I feel like that’s the Triple Crown of SF in our country. Now I really hope I can get my SF novels published.

WG: How did you first start writing?

Scott: I’ve been writing stories ever since I was a child, and briefly tried to write full-time in my twenties, but couldn’t stick with it long enough to break in. I’ve always been determined to become a published author, so when I came up with the concept for Dead Air I just went for it, and I’ve been writing consistently ever since.

WG: Getting back to Dead Air, how did you get your contract with Laurence Steven of Your Scrivener Press?

Scott: I’ve always had a lot of respect for the quality of the manuscripts he chooses and the books he produces. My friend and mentor, Sudbury author Sean Costello, spoke highly of his own experience working with Laurence. Scrivener Press is also a recommender for the Ontario Arts Council’s Writers Reserve grants. I applied for a grant to rewrite Dead Air, Laurence recommended it to the OAC, and when the MS was ready I submitted it to Laurence. I didn’t get his answer for about six months, but he says that was because he was trying to work out the timing of the publication. He’s a busy guy.

WG: Finally, aside from your launch on October 11, are there any other upcoming events you’d like to promote, and where can readers purchase your book?

Scott: I’m sure I’ll be doing more readings and book signings at Chapters and places like that, but nothing has been scheduled yet. The book is available directly from Scrivener Press (though the web site’s a little behind on the direct purchase linkage), and I understand it’s now in stock at Chapters in Sudbury and likely Coles, too. Online it can be ordered through Amazon and Chapters-Indigo.

Scott, thanks for joining me 🙂

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Don’t miss the launch of Scott Overton’s thriller Dead Air! Thursday, October 11, 2012, at the Vale Living with Lakes Centre, 6:30-9:30 pm: free admission and refreshments. (Scott will be reading from the book at 8 pm.) More info at http://www.scrivenerpress.com/default.asp?id=580

 

My Journey to the Misty Lands – Guest blog post by John Rice

John William Rice (1942-) was born in Iroquois Falls Ontario to parents of Scots/Irish/Welsh ancestry, spent his public school years in Charlton Ontario, and quit school after completing grade eight. In the spring of 1968, he returned to school under a government upgrading program, completed high school and studied electronics at Northern College of applied arts and technology where he earned the nick name, “The Whisky Poet.”

After graduating in 1971, he began a 34-year career as an instrument technician at International Nickel Company. Along the way, he married and fathered two sons. His wife Patty died from cancer in 2003. John retired in 2005 and after completing a book of verse, From the Heights to the Enchanted Places, he plunged head first into his fantasy novel, Keeper of the Sword.

John lives and writes in Sudbury, Ontario and can be reached on twitter, @keeperofthsword, on Facebook, and on his blog.

My Journey to the Misty Lands

I lie on my bed, let Return of the King, the last volume of Lord of the Rings drop from my hands, and close my eyes. My mind drifts far away from my small room in the Piccadilly Hotel, far away from Vancouver, and far away from my job as a sheet metal helper at Humble Manufacturing, to Middle earth, where I march with Frodo and Sam toward Mount Doom.

The sounds of feet shuffling outside my door bring me back to harsh reality. I prop myself up on the pillow, rummage around in the rickety dresser drawer for a pen and scribbler, and write, “Keeper of the Sword” across the top of the page. Images of a completed epic poem dance through my mind and I bend all my thoughts to the first word, the first line, but nothing comes. I struggle for a while, still nothing comes, and it seems my muse, such as it is, eludes me once more. “Someday,” I whisper, “Someday I’ll write it.”

I put my writing utensils away, snuggle under thin blankets and let my mind drift over towering mountains, across the endless prairie, through the rugged Cambrian Shield, to the village of Charlton Ontario, to the house where my sister, mom, and dad live. For a moment, I wish I was there, instead of in this city by the sea, thousands of miles away.

I kick the homesickness out of my mind, and go back, back into my past, back to my first attempts at writing verse. I remember finding a love poem my brother wrote for some high school girl, remember thinking if he can write poems than I can write a song.

I remember the name of the piece, “There once was a horse named General Jim,” but little else of my first plunge into writing, and most of all I remember sending it away to an address I found in Popular Mechanics, to a person that promised to turn it into a hit record.

Days, each one seeming like a year, passed while I waited for my first of many checks, and at last one day after school, my mom handed me an envelope. I took a deep breath, and taking care not to damage the contents tore it open. A piece of folded paper fluttered to the floor. I bent over, scooped it up, and unfolded it. “We don’t think this subject matter is suitable to become a commercial song,” burned into my eyes.

“What’s wrong,” mom asked.

I turned away, hiding my tears, hiding my disappointment.

For years I never wrote another thing, but at last my bitter disappointment slipped deep into my mind. One day a cousin of mine wanted to know if I had any songs he could sing to the girl he was courting, and over a couple of hours I managed to write a piece he liked. This adventure sparked a creative flurry and dozens of lyrics tumbled out of my mind onto paper.

My alarm clock’s strident ring drags me out of my dream of home and to the reality of a new workday.

Forty-six years have come and gone since I first read Lord of the Rings in that small dingy room, since I first came up with the title, “Keeper of the Sword.” Over those years, I’ve completed high school, completed two years of electronics at Northern College of Applied arts and Technology, worked thirty-four years as an Instrument Technician, fathered two amazing sons, and lost my wife to cancer.

During that span I had periodic spurts of writing verse, most notably while attending college, where I earned the name, “The Whiskey Poet.” Of course I didn’t deserve the title because at that time of my life I could only afford to drink beer.

While at northern college I believe I let an opportunity slip away, an opportunity that might have changed my life in a dramatic way.

I always sat with my peers from my Man Power retraining days, where I completed high school, for lunch, and often wrote poetry during the hour-and-a-half. One day our English teacher joined us and asked if he could see the poem I was working on. I finished the last line, and handed it to him with a degree of trepidation.

He took several minutes to read the short poem, nodding several times. He handed the poem back and said, “Not bad, as a matter of fact it’s quite good. I know someone in Toronto that might be able to help you, but before I put you in contact with him, I want you to learn ten new words every day for two weeks. You not only have to be able to spell them, but you need to be able to use them correctly in a sentence.”

I folded up my poem, “Waiting,” and placed it in the binder.

As the years have speed by on the one way train of time I’ve often wondered what my life would have been like if I’d taken his advice, but I preferred to spend time in the bar with friends instead of taking the time to improve my vocabulary.

The dream of becoming a writer and completing at least one novel has always lingered in the deep recesses of my mind, and in the winter of 2007, I decided it was time to make my dream come true. I started off by attempting to write a play. About half way through, “Music Box Dancers,” the concept for another play, “I taught a Mocking Bird to Sing,” came to me.

After completing two plays, and feeling confident, I wrote several short stories, a book of poems, and remembering that title from long ago, I plunged into Keeper of the Sword.

I still live and write in Sudbury.

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And here is a free excerpt from John’s novel:

In the beginning

 

Morgan Connelly, stunned, unable to move for the moment, feeling a warm wetness dripping down her skin, fluttered violet eyes open and stared at the growing red stains on her blouse, the amber feathers attached to a long slender egg yolk colored piece of wood jutting out from under her collarbone, and whimpered, “Josh. Josh. Josh. Help meeee.”

 

Something crashed to her right, and screams sounding like a cat in pain filled the air around her.

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To read more of Keeper of the Sword visit John’s blog, tweet him @keeperofthsword, or friend him on Facebook.  His novel is available on Smashwords, on Kobo, or on Amazon.

LUminaries: The Power of Popular Fiction

On October 4, 2012, I attended the first of Laurentian University’s new season of the LUminaries readings series, held at the Living with Lakes Centre (LwLC).  The theme of the evening was the power of popular fiction, with authors John Forrest, Scott Overton, and Mark Leslie.

The first thing to note is that the LwLC is beautiful.  It was built with the landscape and the environment in mind, using a lot of natural or reclaimed materials, a green roof, and wonderful views of Ramsey Lake on the shores of which the centre stands.

The parking was a bit of an issue and I understand the reasons for this.  The builders wanted to encourage a more environmentally sustainable mode of travel, such as walking, cycling, or public transit.  Sadly, this would only work for individuals who work and/or live in the immediate university area.  The room in which the reading was held has a capacity of about 60 I believe.  There’s no way the cars of 60 attendees could fit into that wee parking lot.

This is unfortunate, because it makes the site unattractive for larger events where attendees from off-campus might want to participate in numbers.

This year’s LUminaries was co-sponsored by the English department, through Laurence Steven, the big squishy brain behind Your Scrivener Press, and by the English Arts Club, who are also behind the university’s new literary journal, Sulphur.   

The evening began with a meet and greet/author signing session out in the foyer of the centre.  I decided to hold off on picking up one of Scott’s books until his official launch this coming Thursday, October 11, 2012, at 8 pm (also at the LwLC).  I picked up Tesseracts 16, however, and Mark Leslie’s Haunted Hamilton.  I chatted up the authors, including John Forrest, but I must confess to selling Mr. Forrest short.  The books he had for sale were of Christmas stories and I wasn’t interested or yet in the mood for Christmas.

Laurence Steven began the reading more formally with a brief talk on popular fiction, its attraction, and its denigration in the literary/academic community.  Then he called John Forrest to the podium.

John was an educator and principal in his past career, but then turned his considerable talents to writing.  One of his claims to fame is that he’s had eleven stories published in various Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, three in the one about hockey.  That’s what he started with, his recounting of the ’72 Summit Series from the perspective of a young teacher working the sporting event into his teaching unit.

He then read part of a story from his story collection entitled Home for Christmas, about a WWII bomber tail gunner and his struggle to get home for Christmas.  Finally, he pulled out his first published short story, a humorous tale about purchasing condoms pending his vasectomy.

John’s first Christmas short story collection, published by YSP last year, has gone into three printings and was sold in Home Hardware stores as well as online and in book stores.  Home for Christmas has already sold out its first printing even though it hasn’t formally been launched yet!  John was dropping off boxes of his book to a couple of the local Home Hardware stores this week, so look for them in the Christmas home decor section.

Next, Scott Overton took the podium, and read three excerpts from his new novel Dead Air.  Without giving too much away, because I am going to blogging more about Scott in the next week or so, his novel is a thriller about a morning radio host in northern Ontario who has a strange dispute with a caller to his morning show and subsequently finds a hand-written threat on his desk.

Several possible love-interests, a snow mobile chase, and car trouble on a cold and stormy night are among the thrills in Dead Air.

Then Mark Leslie read a humorous horror story about what it might really be like to be Frosty the Snowman and some of his poetry from his collection One Hand Screaming.  He also spoke about his experience at editor for Tesseracts 16.  He’s never cracked the anthology as a writer, but lost his “Tesseracts” virginity at 16 🙂

As you can see from the picture, Mark is a very animated presenter and performer, changing his voice for the various characters in his stories.

At that point, there was an intermission after which there was to be a Q&A session.  Unfortunately, it was what I like to call a “school night” and I had to get home to complete my interview responses for Brian Braden and Underground Book Reviews and then get to bed so I would be marginally coherent at work on Friday.

I’m sure it was a fantastic second half and I’m sorry I had to leave.

If anyone who was there would care to fill in the blanks in the comment section, please do so!

More randomness from which creative connections might arise

Good afternoon!

I wanted to post these ramblings separately from my post regarding the Luminaries reading.

The power of an awesome haircut

I have to set this one up a bit. A number of years ago, the best stylist I’d ever had moved out of our area of town.  I made the attempt to support her by traveling out of my way, but life got increasingly hectic, and I just couldn’t keep it up.  I went to one of the local places, but the one good stylist there went on maternity leave, and then always seemed occupied when I went in for a trim.

Last year, I decided to get “chunky” bangs.  This was fine, until this year and several haircuts later, each by a different person, I decided that I wanted to grow them out.

I have no pictures of this hairy period, but I looked like hell.  My two increasingly lengthy chunks flipped out and looked like a couple of fuzzy horns.  I knew only time and patience would fix it and determined to wait the horrible hair out.

Then, a few weeks ago, my mom told me that Diane (the awesome stylist) had sold her business, and set up in her basement, once again in the south end of Sudbury.

At the time, I was overwhelmed at work and at home and not in the take action mood.  This past week, however, I worked a lot at “letting go” all of those things over which I have no control.  It’s been a very good week.  So yesterday, I made an appointment with Diane.

I knew it would life a weight from my shoulders–long hair is surprisingly heavy and you never realize just how heavy until it’s cut away–but I had no idea how good it would feel, and how lovely the result.

This was the result 🙂

Diane is a consummate professional.  She knows her business and she doesn’t mess around.  She asks, like all stylists, what you want, but then she sets to and you’re in her hands.

Those hands are skillful.  They inspire confidence.  Every snip is purposeful, and she really approaches a haircut as a piece of art.  It was wonderful to be able to trust someone so completely for a while.

The result was two inches shorter, layered artfully, and Diane even straightened my hair, something I never take the time to do myself.  It felt considerably lighter too.

Really, it was just what I needed, even though I didn’t know it.  Funny how that happens.

Mel is happy.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Larry Crowne

Mentioned last night when I logged off that I was going to watch Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and I have to say that I was disappointed.

Though more faithful to the comic (Ghost Rider can come out in the day), the story wasn’t all that compelling.  Nicholas Cage was looking very much like he didn’t want to be there, and his transformation sequences were entirely too drawn out.  With respect to that, he ended up sounding half the time like his character Big Daddy, from Kick-Ass, in my opinion, a much better character and performance, and something that hearkens back to some of his early, quirky roles.

I like the quirky.

Fast forward to this morning and Larry Crowne.  While I missed the beginning, I was immediately on board with Tom Hanks and his portrayal of a middle-aged man having to start over.

I loved the characters.  Julia Roberts as the long-suffering college teacher and spouse of a porn-addicted writer, so-called, was awesome.  Unfortunately, the chemistry between the two leads left something to be desired.  Hanks often ended up looking at Roberts like she was insane.

Still, I enjoyed it a lot more than the second Ghost Rider.

The sounds of fall

This morning wasn’t a quiet Sunday morning.  It’s rarely quiet around here: I live on a busy street corner where a lot of traffic passes.

But this morning, I was struck by the sounds of fall.  In the Carolina Poplars across the street, chickadees and tardy starlings chirped and chittered.  I listened to the leaves falling.  It was amazing.  Over the noise of the traffic and the sound of the birds, I could hear each leaf fall onto the bed of them at the foot of each tree.

Last night was the first night that the temperature fell below zero (degrees celsius) so even though the wind was still, the leaves were falling.  Time has come.

Today, I finally gave over and put the furnace on.  Tomorrow, the winter clothes come out of storage and the tank tops go into hibernation until spring and the Hallowe’en door decoration comes out.  Tomorrow is also our (Canadian) Thanksgiving dinner.  Looking forward to some time with family.

Look for my post on the LUminaries reading series later today.

TTFN!

October submit-o-rama and other randomness

Hey there!

I’ve joined Khara House‘s October Submit-o-rama!

In the lovely Khara’s own words:

There are five unique challenges for you to choose from to participate in the Submit-O-Rama! Click on the links below to pick your flavor of the month!

The “Basic” Challenge
The “Uber” Challenge
The “Alpha” Challenge
The “Name Game” Challenge
The “Choose Your Rules” Challenge

Of course, you know I went for the “choose your own rules” challenge.  I’m going for one submission per week and I’ve just made my first one: a short story to Tesseracts 17.  The deadline’s not until February 2013, but I wanted to get this submission done early.  this will be my fourth try at a Tesseracts anthology, and last year I received a very encouraging (not being sarcastic) rejection letter from Mark Leslie, who I got to meet in person this past week (more on that to come).

It’s not too late if you want to join in the fun.  Just go to Khara’s blog, Our Lost Jungle, click on the Submit-o-rama page, and follow the destructions from there.  She has forums set up too.  You can also join Khara’s Facebook event page for ongoing updates from the participants.

Some of them are going for the gusto.  Join in on the fun!

The blog schedule changes again

In fact, if you look at my blog now, you might notice that there’s no blogging schedule in evidence.  I’m going to be posting as I can and as I have things to blog about.  This may mean a blog or more in a day and it might mean days or weeks when I don’t blog at all.  I’ve decided that I’m good with that.  I’m hoping that you will be too.

Right now, I have to work on my novel, and I’m trying to restructure and simplify my life so that I can do that.

What’s coming

Having said that, I’m going to be blogging on a fairly regular basis for the next couple of weeks.

  • Tomorrow, I’ll post about the first LUminaries reading series at Laurentian University on the power of popular fiction;
  • On Tuesday, I’ll be posting  my first guest blog by fellow Sudbury Writers’ Guild author John Rice;
  • Before Thursday, I hope to be posting my first author interview with Scott Overton;
  • After Thursday, I’ll be blogging the launch of Scott’s novel Dead Air; and
  • In the future, I’ll be blogging about the progression/completion of Dan Blank’s Platform-building course, more submit-o-rama madness ( I hope), my experience at the Algonkian Writers’ Conference, interviewing my friend Kim Fahner about her upcoming book of poetry, and her book launch.

From the learning mutt side of my brain will be:

  • In-person meetings (for virtual teams) as a vehicle for professional development;
  • The Business Expertise Forum experience from a presenter’s perspective;
  • Striving for certification;
  • Business Writing Made easy in action; and
  • Managing transitions – will the course meet expectations?

As you can see, there will be lots of Writerly Goodness to come.

Something apropos of nothing

As the sun rises later each morning and until the snow falls, I’m faced with a dog-walking conundrum.  If Nuala (das pooch) chooses to unburden herself on a lawn that is not flooded by streetlight, how does a proper pup-mom find, let alone extract the odious package?

I was thinking of that semi-annual problem on Friday morning and reminded of a friend, Stacey, who has moved to the States.  When she lived in Sudbury, we walked our dogs together, and discussed this very issue.

Though she was devoted to cancer research, and still is, we both thought that it would be great if some enterprising researcher were to invent some kind of additive (innert and harmless to the animal) that when added to a dog’s food would make their feces phosphoresce to aid in the timely and efficient removal of such materials incumbent upon all responsible dog owners.

Any keen researchers interested in taking up the challenge?  I’m just sayin’ …

The randomness of Writerly Goodness is heading off to watch Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

Good words at ya, my friends.

100 thousand poets for change in North Bay, September 29, 2012

Please note: this post originally appeared as a guest post on John Rice’s Keeper of the Sword blog on October 3, 2012.

It was a grey autumn day when I set off for North Bay.  Then I picked up Kim Fahner, and the journey became a poetic road trip of epic proportions 🙂  Talked craft, poetry, fiction, blogging, social media, and Doctor Who!

Kim brought me back a gift from her recent trip to Ireland: Leanne O’Sullivan’s Cailleach: The Hag of Beara.  Lovely book.  Saving it for the weekend 🙂

The drive was blessedly uneventful and we arrived early enough to have lunch before the event started.

On the way back to the park for the reading, we were greeted by Father Forrest.  The White Water Gallery’s Youth Arts Initiative created puppets this summer.

Father Forrest was one of them and he stopped by the reading later on in the afternoon.

We walked on to the park where the poets and audience were already gathered.

Though the organizers, Kevin smith and Natalie Wilson had brought a PA system there wasn’t an outlet to power it.

Still, Kevin introduced the event and got underway promptly, explaining a little of the background of 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

100 Thousand Poets for Change was initially conceived by Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion in March, 2011, as a worldwide set of events to take place simultaneously on September 24, 2011. Literary event organizers volunteered to host associated events in their own cities or schools. ~Wikipedia

The first reader of the North Bay event was Laurie Kruk, professor at Nipissing University and author of Theories of the World, Loving the Alien, and the soon to be released, My Mother Never Told Stories.

She read several selections from her new book of poetry.

I was the next poet to read and only chose a couple of poems: “Manitou Sky” and Relatively Speaking.”

I started my set with a post on Jezebel regarding a Sikh woman and her response to what seemed a malicious picture posted as a critique on her appearance.  It was my way of commenting on how social media can be an avenue for positive change.

I finished my reading by offering some advice from Kristen Lamb in this season of political frenzy on how writers really change the world.

Following my set was Tim Robertson, poet and aphorist, that is, writer of aphorisms.

He started the session with a series of witticisms and then read a couple of his longer poems.

After Tim’s reading was a brief intermission where poets mingled and chatted.  I took a few moments to reacquaint myself with Natalie, with whom I’d contributed to NEOVerse, and Laurie, with whom I’d read on several occasions during my more active poet years.

The second half of the afternoon session began with Christine Charette, artist and poet.  Father Forrest visited at this point and remained around for her set.

Christine’s poetry has as its heart the issues of womanhood and motherhood and it did speak to the theme of change.

Denis Stokes read next.  He’s taught English in high school and at Nipissing University, and published poetry in print and online.  Denis’s poetry was definitely the poetry of Northern Ontario, evocative of its sights and sounds in the context of family and change.

Then Doyali Farah Islam took the stage, er, cobblestones 🙂  She published her first book of poetry, Yusuf and the Lotus Flower, in October of 2011.

Doyali is definitely influenced by Rumi, and her poetry brought a bit of the sacred to the assembly.

The last poet of the afternoon session was my friend, Kim Fahner, English teacher, and author of You must imagine the cold here and Braille on water.  Her new book of poetry, The Narcoleptic Madonna is due out this fall.

Kim is a great reader who interacts with her audience with humour and self-conscious grace.  Kim read from her new work.

Afterward, the poets mingled again.  Business cards and books were exchanged.  Though there was an evening session where Ken Stange, Kevin, and Natalie would be reading, Kim and I had to toddle off.  Nonetheless, I understand the evening reading at the Cornerstone Cafe was a great one, and the North Bay edition of the 100 thousand poets for change event a success.

And then, after a fortifying pumpkin spice chai latte at Twiggs, we were on the road again, chatting more about the day, poetry, creativity, and again, the fabulous Dr. who 🙂  David Tennant is one of Kim’s secret husbands, don’t you know.

The day ended with a lovely supper at Verdiccio’s where I had the chance to use the coupon I’d won on Facebook this summer.

All was ‘write’ with the world 🙂

For more information, please see the 100 Thousand Poets for Change North Bay Facebook page, or the Web page, graciously hosted by Ken Stange.