Great Big Sea in Sudbury Aug 25, 2013

If you’ve followed Writerly Goodness for any length of time, you may have heard me refer to Great Big Sea (GBS).  There was a time, in my years at Laurentian University, that me and my friends, Kim and Yana, were GBS groupies.

The first time I saw them was in the Great Hall during frosh week of my first year.  The Great Hall was also the cafeteria, and was converted for the concert.  Kim and I didn’t use the chairs after the band hit the stage and spent the evening dancing our wee hearts out 🙂

The next year, GBS was one of the headliners at Northern Lights Festival Boreal.  Natalie McMaster opened up for them.  At that time, the Bell Park Amphitheatre was an old wooden structure and the seating was all concrete (and rough on the bum).  Not that I sat for long that time either.

The next year, Yana, Kim, and I went on a road trip to Oakville, where GBS was playing the waterfront music festival there.  We met up with one of her cousins, and after hitting the festival, spent the night wandering Oakville, hit a bar or two, and then ended up at Kim’s cousin’s apartment.

GBS returned to Northern Lights a few years later, but I had just had an operation and couldn’t go.  Yana went, though, and got me a t-shirt 🙂

So yes, we were, and continue to be fans.

Last year, GBS played the Sudbury Arena, and Kim and I caught the show there.  This year, when it was announced that GBS would be playing Summerfest, Kim, now a member of the GBS fan club, got herself, Yana, and I tickets.

They played on Sunday, August 25, which was, incidentally, Yana’s birthday, so I suggested we hit the local Fionn MacCool’s for supper before the performance.

Kim had just returned from her 2 and a half week Pacific odyssey (Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand) on the Friday immediately before and was still heavily jet-lagged.  The weather was stormy and the concert was going to be at Bell Park again, at the recently reconstructed Grace Hartman Amphitheatre.  While the band shell was much improved and equipped to deliver fabulous acoustics, the seating was still in the open.

We were understandably concerned.

Kim was watching the website and Twitter accounts for news, and Alan Doyle posted that the concert would proceed, as scheduled.

At supper, Kim was feeling poorly and Yana and I convinced her to come anyway.  A short stop at the pharmacy for pain relief, and another to pick up the tickets, and we continued out visit until GBS was scheduled to hit the stage.

The rain stopped.

The impromptu book signing

The impromptu book signing

At the concert, two of Kim’s friends from her recent trip, came over and Kim conducted an impromptu book signing for them.

Then, when GBS hit the stage, we were up, dancing and screaming for all we were worth.  A contingent from Newfoundland moved up to the stage and among some of the other fans, forming a Celtic mosh pit.

GBS

Alan Doyle announced that Newfoundlanders have magickal powers and that the band put a stop to the rain.  This was part of their 20th anniversary tour, and the last day of this portion.  On the Monday, they’d be heading back home for a break, and so they were going to leave it all on the stage.

The chief among Kim's secret husbands ;)

The chief among Kim’s secret husbands 😉

Over the next hour and a half, they played many favourites, old, and new, and let us bring them back on stage for an encore.

Sean McCann

Sean McCann

‘Twas a wonderful night spent with old friends, and we were sorry to see it end.

Have you been to any great concerts this summer?  Were you ever a groupie?  How about a concert road trips story?

Share your stories in the comments below.

kthxbye for tonight 🙂

Six questions with Jennifer J. Chow

Jennifer is one of many online friends I’ve made through Wordsmith Studio.  I’m happy that her novel, The 228 Legacy, is published and that she’s agreed to this interview.

Jennifer J. Chow

Jennifer J. Chow
photo credit Julie Daniels

Jennifer J. Chow, a Chinese-American, married into the Taiwanese culture. The 228 Legacy was inspired by the family stories she heard after viewing photos of a two-million-person human chain commemorating 228. She has traveled multiple times to Taiwan and visited places dedicated to the incident. Her experience with the elderly comes from a gerontology specialization at Cornell University and her geriatric social work experience. You can visit her online at www.jenniferjchow.com, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

________________________________________________________________________

WG: Welcome, Jennifer!

Your new website’s tagline is “Asian-American fiction with a geriatric twist.” Your old blog’s was “Fortune cookie wisdom meets an Asian American writer’s life.” How does this change in tagline reflect your evolution as a writer?

JJC: The blog continues to reflect my fortune cookie life and how I’m twisted into the dual selves of my Asian-American identity. Plus, my posts still start off with a Chinese proverb, and the saying is woven into the content. When I evaluated my fiction writing, though, I discovered certain themes coming through. I enjoyed exploring various aspects of the Asian-American experience. Also, many of my stories contained older adult characters as key figures and examined the interplay between different generations, so I added in the “geriatric twist” to my tagline.

WG: How has your work in the geriatric field influenced your writing?

JJC: I’ve heard so many unique and interesting tales from my previous clients. They shared with me their life journeys and provided a lot of inspiration in my own stories. Additionally, I have a strong desire to shed light on the inner workings of people as they age. I also wanted to highlight older characters, individuals who are often caricatured in the arts—or not mentioned at all.

WG: When did the writing bug first bite you? Tell us the origin story of Jennifer J. Chow, author 🙂

JJC: I always wrote as a child, starting with a pencil on lined paper. During a field trip to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, I dropped a journal entry without realizing it. Later on, one of my schoolmates picked it up, asking, “What’s this? It reads like a story.” When I grew older, I borrowed my father’s typewriter for writing. I even remember him taking my childhood manuscripts and showing them to his colleagues at work.

WG: When I saw your book, I immediately thought of Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club). Not that it’s a poor comparison to beg, but how is The 228 Legacy different?

JJC: I would be ecstatic to have my work compared to Amy Tan’s amazing novel. I’d like to defer this answer to a Goodreads member who summed it very well: “When I first described this book to someone (it spanning several generations, the historical context, mother/daughter relationships, immigrant and second-generation Asian American experience) I realized it sounded like I was describing an Amy Tan novel but in fact this book has a unique, American voice – It doesn’t indulge in magical realism of ancient lore or fortune cookie wisdom. Rather, the voice of the characters are immediately recognizable – maybe not extraordinary but are surviving the sometimes extraordinary circumstances surrounding them (whether it be a suffering spouse or parent, or a teenager witnessing abuse, or a military massacre). I learned about some Taiwanese history which as far as I know has never been touched upon in American fiction. But to me this book is fundamentally about caring – our innate need to care and be cared for. There was so much that resonated and that I recognized in these character’s stories. Just a wonderful book that I enjoyed very much.”

WG: How did your experience in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition contribute to your success as a novelist?

JJC: I think entering the competition gave me more confidence. When I realized that I had made it to the second round, I understood that other people might really be interested in this story. When the contest passed and I started submitting the manuscript to publishers, it also didn’t hurt to mention my experience with the ABNA competition.

WG: What’s next for you and The 228 Legacy?

JJC: I’m hoping that more people will become aware of my book and that readers of all cultural backgrounds will be able to relate to and learn from the book. A specific event I’m looking forward to is my book launch party on Sunday, September 15 at 4pm at Pages bookstore in Manhattan Beach, California. It’ll be a fun celebration of the book’s release, complete with an excerpt, reader testimonials, a raffle, and delicious Taiwanese snacks!

Thanks for a great interview, Jennifer! All the best with your future writing endeavours.

_______________________________________________________________________

The 228 Legacy

The 228 Legacy

Three generations in an all-female Taiwanese family living near Los Angeles in 1980 are each guarding personal secrets. Grandmother Silk finds out that she has breast cancer, as daughter Lisa loses her job, while pre-teen granddaughter Abbey struggles with a school bully. When Silk’s mysterious past comes out—revealing a shocking historical event that left her widowed—the truth forces the family to reconnect emotionally and battle their problems together.

A novel of cultural identity and long-standing secrets, The 228 Legacy weaves together multigenerational viewpoints, showing how heritage and history can influence individual behavior and family bonds.

“An impressive debut!  Moving, hopeful and triumphant.  A compelling read.” -Jane Porter, national bestselling author of The Good Daughter

Introvert is me

quite-bookI just finished reading Susan Cain’s Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking, and I have to say that it’s changed my life.

I “knew” I was introverted.  I’d seen my results on various Myers-Briggs (and derivative) tests.  I knew I liked to be alone and that I felt really awkward in social settings.  I knew that while I’m a good trainer, that I always felt exhausted afterward.  I just didn’t feel the truth of what being an introvert meant, for me anyway, until I read Cain’s book.

Cain opened my eyes to who and what and introvert is and can be.

When I was a kid, my mom had to stop sending me to my room as a punishment.  I liked it too much 🙂  I’d just get a book, or start playing on my own.  When I was a kid, I compensated for my introversion by being giggly and obnoxious.  Friendships tended to wound rather than comfort.

Now I totally get where I feel my power, why I’m so happy with Phil, and why I’ve been writing since I was seven years old.

Even if you’re not an introvert, if you love someone who is, I’d encourage reading Quiet.  It really is an incredible book.

Writing is the ideal calling for an introvert

A couple of articles for you:

http://theintrinsicwriter.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/are-all-writers-introverts/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/katelee/2012/11/02/susan-cain-on-writing-as-an-introvert/

Just this past week, Porter Anderson posted on Writer Unboxed about the myth of the lonely writer.

http://writerunboxed.com/2013/08/16/are-you-lonesome-tonight-the-dreaded-solitude-of-writing/

Not that all writers have to be introverts.  I’m sure there are many who are not (and I know several of them).  I just think that the writing part of the writing life is easier on us.  It’s the promotional work that’s going to be the killer 😛

In the past few months, I’ve also started following Space 2 Live, a blog on introversion by Brenda Knowles.

Here’s her lovely video: The space we need.

Are you an introvert? An extrovert? Is your partner the same or the opposite?  Do you have introverted children?  The dynamics are potentially endless and every relationship is unique.

I’d love to hear from you.

What kind of “-ist” am I, anyway?

Over the past few months, I’ve been seeing a lot of blog posts and articles on sexism and misogyny in writing and publishing.

Just to refresh your memory:

There have been scandals involving Penguin and the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA).  Patty Jansen has posted extensively on women in SF.  Being one of those women, she has an inside track 😛  Just search by that string, “women in SF” on her blog, and see the results.

John Scalzi frequently posts about online and real life harassment and recently talked about his thoughts on feminism and whether he considered himself a feminist.  He wouldn’t be insulted, btw.

Being a woman writer who writes fantasy and SF, among other things, I have a stake in these issues.  I share much of what comes across my desk on these topics on Facebook, my primary avenue for curation.

Yes, I know, get with the times, Mel.  Why aren’t I doing this on Pinterest or putting out a Paper.ly on the topic?

Cause I’m writing.  That’s why.

So what the heck am I?

This all has got me to thinking: what variety of “-ist” am I?

I don’t think I’m a feminist.  I espouse feminist views and support the goals of feminism.  The problem is that I’m a bit more than that.

I believe that everyone, man or woman, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered, of any religion, spirituality, or world view (including atheism), of any culture (I don’t believe in race, we’re all human) to do or say what they wish, so long as it does not violate the law, or the civil rights of another human being.

There’s a pagan tenet that sums up my philosophy: an’ ye harm none, do what you will.

I also believe that bullying should be a crime, because of the evil it fosters.  Yes, I said evil there folks.

I believe that animal cruelty is a gateway crime and that penalties for it should be increased and enforced.

I believe in the right of a woman to do what she wishes with her body.

I think I’m going to stop there, before I get into trouble 😉

So what does that make me? I don’t know.  Maybe you’ll have to sort that one, dear reader.

Caturday Quickies: Bun and Bucket

Those of you who have been following me on Facebook, know that Phil and I got a new car last year.  It was a pretty big deal, because it was our first new car.  We figured it was about time we treated ourselves.

The car is a 2012 Hyundai Sonata.  We went for the previous year’s model, as they gave us an incentive.

This be Bun

This be Bun

With a new car came a conundrum: what do we call her?  Naming a car is important, donchya know?

When Phil picked up the licence plate, the first four letters were BNVN.  He suggested we call her Bun Oven, a mnemonic for the licence plate.

“Why don’t we just call her uterus and be done with it then?” I said.

Sadly Bun Oven stuck, and Bun she remains.  We love our Bun, though.

This year, Phil wanted to get a pick up truck, “an old beater,” as he put it.  As we’ve tackled out home reno projects over the years, he’s lamented the lack of a truck to tote supplies.  We’ve either had to pay for delivery, or beg/borrow/steal a truck from someone we knew.

Initially, he was thinking of looking in the fall or winter, but when his mom announced that she’d be moving in October, he wanted to get one now, so we could help out a little more.

The result: Bucket.  It’s short for Rust Bucket and has nothing to do with her licence plate. She’s a 2003 Ford F150.

And this be Bucket

And this be Bucket

Do you name your vehicles?  My high school science teacher named his car Bucephalus. My friend Margaret, named her bicycle (when we were kids) Star-jumper.  Do you think the practice is silly, or endearing?

I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Caturday Quickies

Creative connections: On Dala, civic responsibility, and unexpected acts of yoga

This Wednesday past, one of my favourite musical groups, Dala, was in Sudbury.  I watch their web site for local concert dates, because I just love them.  Their pure vocal harmonies and soulful folk really touch me.

Dala at the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre

Dala at the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre

I first discovered them courtesy of the CBC’s Stuart McLean.  They were his musical guests on one of his Vinyl Cafe tours.

On Wednesday, Dala and Adam Crossley performed a free concert as part of the Vale Concert Series at the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre in Bell Park to support the Sudbury Food Bank.

Adam Crossley

Adam Crossley

Here are a couple of articles, for your reading pleasure:

Donation, in cash or food, was voluntary, but I donated what I would have otherwise paid for a ticket.  There are still a lot of people who need the food bank’s services.  Should I ever become one of those people, I’d like to think that others would take an interest in helping me.

It’s a great thing to get out and do something artsy, but non-writing related.  All work and no play makes Mellie a dull girl 😉  I also learned last year that I have to keep my well replenished.  It’s a Julia Cameron thing.

Like any endurance sport, writing is a marathon.  And really, it never stops.  If you continually draw on your creativity, eventually, that well runs dry.  Cameron suggests that you get out and experience the arts as a form of levelling that creative water table.

Art begets art.

On the way out, I saw a group of people in the park doing yoga.  There were letters pegged into the ground by the roadside that spelled out Zenlife.

Zen Life yoga from across Paris Street

Zen Life yoga from across Paris Street

Pretty cool, I thought.

What do you think? Do you have favourite musical groups you like to see?  How do you feel about your civic responsibility?  What about fresh air yoga?  Want to try it?  Already have? What was the experience like?

Why I hate flying

Now before I get too far into this post, let me preface it by saying I had an absolutely fabulous time in Michigan City with my friend Stacey Hembruff and her fiancé (now hubbie) Erik Lawrence.

For the day and a half I was there, I met Erik and his family, went to Carlson’s, a local landmark replete with car hops and brewed-on-site root beer (made me reminisce about the A&W of my childhood), went to their wonderful beach, and partied the night away at the local Elk’s lodge.

I had a blast and it made the trial and error of getting there so worth it.

Still.  I had a bit of an adventure.

Hater’s gonna hate

I’m not afraid of flying.  Sure my gut lurches a bit on take off, and when the ride gets a bit rough, I can’t read (legacy of childhood car-sickness) but I have nothing against the mode of transportation itself.  Sometimes it’s the only way to get from point A to point B.

Getting the ticket and dealing with the airline and insurance was a breeze, too.  I was actually pleasantly surprised at how easy it was.  And I was looking forward to flying with Porter, as several of my friends have and have reported that it was a great experience.

I’m the problem.  I’m a control freak.  I hate being at the mercy of someone else’s schedule.  If possible, I’d much rather drive because then if I’m late, I have no one to blame but myself.

So this is all on me 😉

My tale begins when I checked through security at the Greater Sudbury Airport.

The woman behind me turns to me as we’re collecting our belongings from the bins and says, “Is this your first time?”

Excuse me?  She went on to explain that her flight, earlier in the day, had been cancelled.  She didn’t say why and the day so far both in Sudz and in Toronto wasn’t stormy.

I should have known then that I would be in for a few unexpected delays.

The flight departed a half an hour late, and when it arrived at Billy Bishop Airport on Toronto Island, I had 15 minutes until the next boarding.  Would I make it?  Would my checked bag?  I was escorted to the lounge to await the boarding call and about when I expected to board, the announcement was broadcast that due to thunderstorms, all flights were grounded.

Okay.  I texted Stacey to let her know that I would be a bit late and she said that she and Erik were running late themselves and that all would be well.

When the boarding resumed, Porter started with flights to Boston and Newark and the boarding time was now listed 50 minutes after the original.

The boarding call was announced and the lot of us trouped down to the gate where we stood.  And waited.  Additional problems would cause another hour’s delay. We returned to the lounge and I texted Stacey again.  The issue wasn’t weather, she told me.  The skies were clear in Chicago.

The next announcement that went out was that there were weight allowance issues and that any passengers who would volunteer to wait until the next flight would receive a voucher for $250 dollars off their next Porter flight.

If I knew what would happen next, I’d have gone for the deal, but hind sight is perfect, as they say.

When we board, nearly 2 hours after we were supposed to, I noticed that the next flight to Chicago was boarding in 15 minutes. Le sigh.

When we got on the plane, it was one of the smaller ones, and it was packed to the gills.

English: Porter Airlines Bombardier Q400 landi...

English: Porter Airlines Bombardier Q400 landing at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) in July 2008. Français : Un Q400 de Porter Airlines atterrissant à l’aéroport Billy Bishop de Toronto (YTZ) en juillet 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No wonder they had weight allowance issues.  Because of the smaller size of the plane, though, we’d have to stop for refuelling in Windsor…wait for it…for 15 minutes.  I’m willing to bet that the next flight was on the larger plane that could make the hop in a single flight.

As compensation, in addition to Porter’s usual snacks and beverages (and yes, before you ask, Porter serves actual alcohol on their flights) we were served a chicken pita sandwich, coleslaw, and Lindt chocolate.  I wished that I hadn’t purchased a late dinner in the airport lounge.

We stopped over in Windsor and flew to Chicago with no further problems.  I arrived, made it through customs and claimed my baggage.

But I couldn’t get a signal for my cell phone.  The airport had a Boing hot spot, but apparently, it can’t be used to text or email.  I tried texting Stacey again, because I didn’t know where she was, and I tried to text Phil, because I just wanted to tell him that I’d arrived safely.

I turned on the roaming and tried to latch onto some other network, but no dice.

I found Stacey, she introduced me to Erik, and we drove to Michigan City, about an hour and 15 minutes outside of Chicago.  We arrived without further incident at 11:30, 12:30 my time.  We were staying at Erik’s grandfather’s house and I tried again to find some kind of signal.  My poor phone searched and searched but couldn’t pick anything up.

After a day of travel, me by air, and Stacey and Erik by car, we were all of us pooped.  We dropped, and in the morning, Stacey texted Phil for me.

When I returned to Canadian air space, all my stored up texts were sent.

This is the way of air travel.  It must be accepted.  Still.  I had an adventure 🙂

And that’s why I hate flying.

How about you?  Do you like to fly?  Are you afraid of flying?  Or are you a control freak like me?  I’d love to hear from you.

Writerly Goodness, signing off.

Supper calls!  And tonight: True Blood 🙂

Review of Scott Overton’s Dead Air

This review is considerably overdue.  My apologies, Scott.

The Amazon blurb:

dead airWhen radio morning host Lee Garrett finds a death threat on his control console, he shrugs it off as a prank—until a series of minor harassments turns into a set of undeniable attempts on his life. The suspects are many—he’s made enemies—and the police are strangely uncooperative. The radio career he loved has turned sour, leaving behind a dwindling audience and the wreckage of his marriage. Then the friendship of a newly blind boy and the boy’s attentive (and attractive) teacher offer unexpected hope. Maybe he can make a fresh start. Maybe he can admit that he’s the source of a lot of his own problems. But when the deadliest assault yet claims an innocent victim, Garrett knows he has no choice—he has to find his persecutors and force a confrontation. The extraordinary outcome will test the limits of an ordinary man. In Dead Air career broadcaster Scott Overton creates the disturbing scenario of an ordinary man whose life is threatened by an unknown enemy.

My thoughts:

I wasn’t in love with the character of Lee Garrett. In fact, I didn’t like him much at all, but that’s exactly the way it had to be for Dead Air to be a successful thriller.

Lee Garrett has made enemies over the years, enough to fill a room with the usual suspects, and his wife left him, taking their two children.  She’s making a new life for herself while Garrett’s disillusioned and jaded and not a bit depressed.  He’s a bit of a schmuck, steeped in a good dose of self-sorrow.  Not an attractive package.

Garrett has his redeeming qualities, though.  The reasons he’s made all those enemies is because he generally tried to do the right thing and exposed their varied douchebaggery in the process.  He’s still in love with his wife, and the friends he has are the dependable kind that come through when the going gets tough.

Then he makes friends with Paul, a boy who recently lost his sight, and Candace, his CNIB counsellor.  As the relationship develops, Garrett learns a lot about himself, and how he is the author of his own misery.

He also makes a staunch ally by virtue of an act of kindness.  He even wins over the detective assigned to his case despite having been black-listed for ruining another officer’s career.

By the time Garrett exposes that act that haunts his life and underpins many of his poor decisions, I realized I liked Garrett, despite his not inconsiderable flaws.  I could even think of him as Lee 🙂

Dead Air is a novel about hard-won redemption and a fascinating character study as well as being a thriller with enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing until the end.

My rating:

4.5 stars out of 5

About the Author:Scott Overton colour high res

Scott Overton hosts a radio morning show on Rewind 103.9 in Sudbury, Ontario. As a broadcaster for more than thirty years (twenty-four of them as a morning man), he knows the world he writes about in Dead Air.

To most readers, morning radio is as much a part of their breakfast routine as a hot cup of coffee. On the air, Scott has become a friend to thousands as he entertains and informs. He brings those same instincts to his writing, with clear prose and honest feelings.

His short fiction has been published in On Spec, Neo-opsis, and anthologies such as Tesseracts Sixteen, Canadian Tales of the Fantastic, and In Poe’s Shadow. He’s also a regular contributor of theatre reviews for a local newspaper.

His other passions include scuba diving and a couple of classic cars.

Writing to prompt: Amanda Socci called me a Brainiac!

So, first things first:

Amanda is participating, with Nina Amir, in the NaNoWriMo alternative, Write Non-Fiction in November, or WNFIN 🙂

Here’s the lovely pic:

Write Non-Fiction in November

Write Non-Fiction in November

As part of the lead up and promotion, Amanda has gone plum prompt crazy!  She’s even giving us prompt-interviews!  I think it’s a fabulous idea (that’s why she’s the Creative Idea Gal).  For those of you who may not have perused my pages, it’ll give us a chance to get better acquainted. Plus some of the answers won’t be found on my pages, so bonus info!

Here’s what Amanda posted on Wednesday.

Here are my answers 🙂

(1) Does the title of your blog, Writerly Goodness, have a special significance?

Writerly Goodness is my creative alter ego.  In my day job, I work in the corporate learning and development world, which is related to, but distinct from, the creative work I do in the evenings and on weekends.  I need to compartmentalize and separate my two working worlds and so, like a pseudo-super hero, I “change costumes” and transform into Writerly Goodness, which is also what I hope to produce 😉  I address this in a post: Do you dress for success?

I’m also an introvert.  Big time.  It’s another part of my daily transformation.  I have to put on the extrovert for my work, especially when I deliver training, and just need to hole up when I get home.  Fortunately, the interwebz give me the virtual distance to engage all my online friends and family without distress.  I haven’t written a lot about introversion yet, but I’ve just finished Susan Cain’s Quiet, and will begin to share some of the insights I’ve gained in the reading.

I joke in my welcome message that I might have a multiple personality disorder, which is more appropriately called a dissociative identity disorder, but while that is not true, I am host to other mental illnesses, most notably depression.  I actually talk about mental illness quite a bit, what experiences have contributed to my condition, how mental illness intersects with creativity, and what I’ve learned in the process of managing my depression.

Finally, Writerly Goodness has a decidedly canine aspect to her: loyal, patient, dedicated.  I can tell her to “fetch, girl!” and she will inevitably return with the words I need 🙂  So maybe WG is the embodiment of my muse?  Oooh!  Hadn’t thought of that before.  Thanks, Amanda!

(2) You write frequently about Caturday Quickies. What does that mean? What is Caturday?

Caturday emerged from a web site called I can has cheezburger?  It’s one of the original sites where LOLcats can be found (cute pictures and animated gifs of cats, or kittehs, as they’re called, with humorous captions).  The site’s mascot is a gorgeous Russian Blue with a hopeful look on his (or her) fuzzy face and with the caption that eventually became the name of the site.

Instead of Saturday, the day became Caturday.

I used to visit “I can has” every day for my feline fix, and eventually their sister-site, I has a hotdog (which gave rise to Sundog instead of Sunday in the same way) for my puppeh pick-me-up.  Eventually, I couldn’t keep up with the number of new posts in a day and realized it was more of an addiction than an entertainment.  Now, I see enough of the shared memes on social media to keep me happy.

I’m an animal lover and I used to own serve two cats. Right now, I have my dog, Nuala, but more on her in a bit.

(3) Are you inspired by your training coordinator job? Do you write about your job?

My day job intersects interestingly with my creative work.  As a writer, I always think stories should educate as well as entertain, and the things that I learn as a trainer contribute to my stories.

Also, my writing translates into instructional design.  I’m a fan of story-based instructional design (surprise, surprise) and I’ve been able to help write a course that won me and my team a Silver Award of Excellence in 2012.

More recently, my grammar Nazi nature has been able to come out and play as I’ve taught five sessions of Business Writing Made Easy to participants in two different business lines.  The second last one was a training-for-trainers version of the course, where I was introducing colleagues to the training material so they, in turn, could deliver it to other staff members.

As a training coordinator, I’m constantly writing reports, training plans, proposals, and briefing notes.  It’s completely different work than writing a story, poetry, or a novel, and my background in rhetoric (BA, Laurentian University 1995, cum laude) has come into play.

I have a category devoted to my learning and development (L&D) side: the Learning Mutt.  As you’ve been so kind as to ask me about that, I’ll write to that point more directly later on.

(4) Why do you call yourself a writing geek? Why do you call yourself a keener?

I’m a writing geek for many reasons, only a few of which I’ll mention here (don’t want to bore y’all).

I love words.  In my university years, I took several courses on the history of the language, old English, middle English, Shakespeare, and 18th Century literature (the days of the first dictionaries).  I love etymology.  I love the evolution of the language—English is such a mutt language, we’ve stolen from or been contributed to by nearly every language at one time or another.

I love the physicality of language, where the sounds are produced.  It’s different for each stage/evolution of English: back in the throat, up in the nose, forward in the mouth, up front through the teeth.

I love accents and dialects.  I love pidgin languages.

You can smell the smoke when I start thinking about words 🙂

I adore the writing process, mine and others.  Nothing makes me more #furiouslyhappy than to read the posts of other writers who share their workspaces, work habits, revision strategies, etc.  I’ve been glued to Elissa Field’s blog while she’s been writing about her revisions.  Endlessly fascinating.

I also love learning about writing.  I’m constantly doing it, even though I have an MA in English literature and creative writing.  I read craft books (and everything else I can get my hands on—I’m a book addict) and I read like a writer, looking for clues, analyzing structure, teasing out the reasoning behind creative choices.

I’ve got a subscription to Writer’s Digest Tutorials and have recently started taking courses, from Dan Blank’s Platform Building course, to a selection of Wana International webinars.

I follow Grammar Girl.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

(5) How does being an experiential learner affect your writing?

This is going to be a short one: I learn by doing.

I write, therefore I am.

The only way to improve is to write, and to write every day.

(6) You mentioned that learning and writing go hand in hand. Can you describe how you tie both into one on your blog?

I think I addressed this in my answer to question 3, above, but here’s a little more about it:

When I was back in university, I was amazed at how everything I was learning, from astronomy and biology, through philosophy and psychology, to English, music, and art, intersected in bizarre and wonderful ways.

I find this to be true with my work, as well.

Besides, if I’m going to spend most of my waking hours doing something that is not writing, it better feed my muse in some way.  I just stay open to the possibilities.  Mental popcorn.  Wheee!

(7) You list several cultural references on your blog (Ukrainian Christmas, Algonkian conference, etc.). What inspires you to write about those cultures?

I think the reference to Ukranian Christmas was probably about a friend of mine, who celebrates it, or in my discussion about how I developed my religions/spirituality for my fantasy novel.

The Algonkian Conference is actually a pitch conference that has nothing to do with the Algonquin people.  Though I may have referred to the Ojibwe and Cree nations in my discussion of how I invented some of my languages for my work in progress.

In general, I’m very open to religion and spirituality.  I was raised Christian (Lutheran, specifically) but now identify as agnostic with pagan leanings.  I don’t blog about it too much, though, because I think that both religion and spirituality are very personal things, and while I admire the devout of faith, I don’t think that anyone has the right to tell anyone else what to believe.  That is between the individual and the God of their understanding.

I think I’ll shut up now, before I offend anyone :0

(8) What is the learning mutt side of your brain? How does that impact your learning or writing?

The learning mutt is my day job personality, but it’s more than that.  It’s the part of me that watches the Discovery Channel, follows Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, and was enthralled by Commander Hadfield’s social media campaign from space.  It’s the part of me that reads.  It’s the part of me that takes courses and webinars.  It’s the part of me that wants more, more, MOAR knowledge, regardless of what it might be.

I’m a pop culture junkie, a trivia queen (maybe princess), and creative connections pop out at me from everywhere (mental popcorn mention above).

I don’t have an eidetic memory, or speed-read, or anything, but my brain just wants to fill itself with everything out there, so it is very much like a mutt: a little bit of everything goes into it.

I hope most of it stays there too, another reason I try to keep learning 😉

(9) Does your pup-child Nuala inspire your work? Have you considered writing a non-fiction book about dogs?

All of my dependant quadrupeds, feline or canine, have held special places in my heart.  My husband and I are childless-by-choice, and in a way our pets fill the place of children in our lives.

I also believe that dogs, in particular, are here to teach us how to love unconditionally.

I haven’t thought about writing a non-fiction book about dogs yet.  I don’t think I have enough experiences to fill up a book right now.

I do have an idea for a middle grade book that features a dog as its protagonist, though.  It’s kind of like a Desmond the Dog Detective meets Watership Down, with maybe just a dash of Animal Farm.

Yup, that’s the kind of thing I think up 😛

(10) Your curriculum vitae is impressive! It is also a non-traditional addition to a blog. Has posting your c.v. helped you get noticed, get writing work, be featured on other blogs?

Thank you, but actually, it hasn’t resulted in any of that good stuff.  Nobody’s even “liked” it yet.

When I started my blog, I didn’t have any books that I could promote, so I thought the CV would speak for my experience as a writer.  It was key to my application for professional membership to the Canadian Authors Association.  Maybe when I start querying, agents will start looking me up?  One can only hope 😀

I’ve since added a page to feature the two anthologies including my poetry of which the publisher still has copies to sell, but that hasn’t really resulted in much action either.  At least the publisher hasn’t let me know that he’s run out of copies, or that my page has, in any way, influenced the poetry-reading public 😉

This must be tempered with the fact that a poetry best-seller in Canada means 500 copies sold.  NeoVerse accomplished that goal, if nothing else.

Thanks for giving me this opportunity, Amanda!  This was fun!

What do the rest of you think?  Did you enjoy finding out more about me, or did it leave you cold?  Regardless, I’d love to hear from you.

And please do visit/participate in WNFIN if you are so moved.  That’s Write Non-Fiction in November with Amanda Socci and Nina Amir, just in case you forgot 😉  It’s been a while (long post, whew!).

Tomorrow: Review of Dead Air, and sommat about my trip last weekend.