Sundog snippet: (W)rites of spring returns to Sudbury

It’s been a while since I posted on a Sunday, and I had another literary event to report on, so I thought I’d share a Sundog snippet with you 🙂

The last time the (W)rites of spring visited Sudbury was in 1997 (!). I was a part of that event as a budding poet as was my friend Kim Fahner, who was getting her first chapbook, You must imagine the cold here, published through Your Scrivener Press.

Kim’s gone on to have two further collections published, braille on water, and The Narcoleptic Madonna, both through Penumbra Press and she’s currently working on the contents of her next collection. It wasn’t a surprise, therefore, that for this year’s National Poetry Month, she decided to bring the (W)rites of spring back to Sudbury.

On Friday evening, at Marymount Academy in Sudbury, Kim, along with Sudbury’s current poet laureate Tom Leduc, its past PL, Roger Nash, Susan McMaster, and Tanya Neumeyer did a round-robin reading of their poetry on the theme of food.

The MC was Marcus Schwabe of CBC Radio Sudbury and he kept the evening moving with some humour and commentary. Here is Kim and Tanya’s interview with Marcus from Thursday morning.

The League of Canadian Poets and The Canada Council sponsored the event.

The organization to which proceeds were being donated was the Young Writers’ Guild which meets every month at the Greater Sudbury Public Library.

It was a lovely evening and the breadth and depth of poetry was wonderful.

Sundog snippet

Advertisements

The Next Chapter: Progress by inches (and bounds)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about my progress, or lack thereof, on my writing.

Initiate of Stone

I’ve been struggling to rewrite my first chapter.  I’ve now made progress, after writing, and rewriting it several times.  I really had to go back and decide what it was necessary to accomplish in my opening chapter.

A short list:

  • Introduce my protagonist – Ferathainn, or Fer, is fifteen, and her coming of age is in two moons, at the next goddess festival, Sestaya.  She wants to become an Agrothe mage, and will be the first girl to do so in a very long time, but she chafes under the tutelage of her master, Aeldred.  Fer has been studying from the moment she wakes to the moment she sleeps (except festival days) with Master Aeldred for 12 turnings of the sun through the seasons, but it’s all been mundane. He’s forbidden her from using her innate talent, to speak with the spirits, or souls, of animals, plants, elements, and perhaps even people, like he controls who the spirits speak to …  Fer desperately wants to be initiated so she can start using her talent and learning “real” magick.  She knows she’s capable of more than what Master Aeldred permits her to do.  The process is long and demanding, though, and she will have to make sacrifices.  She loves Leaf, the eleph finiris, or song master, and will marry him on Sestaya as well.  She sees her astara, or soul-lights, in his eyes, something that only the eleph are supposed to see.  She’s not so sure about children, though they seem to be the natural consequence of marriage.  She’s just been so long separated from other girls her age by her studies that she wants something that everyone else takes for granted.  Fer worries that love, marriage, and family will be the sacrifices that she will have to make to become a mage.  She’s determined to have at least love in addition to the solitary life of a mage.
  • The “normal” world – Hartsgrove, Fer’s village, is a “free town” and the eleph and people of Tellurin live side-by-side in relative peace.  It’s an agrarian village that sends tributes to the surrounding, larger, towns and cities to show fealty and secure support in times of need.  The predominant religion is worship of the Goddess Auraya, creatrix of Tellurin.  Every year the season of Vedranya brings deadly storms to besiege the land.  This has been the way of things since the Cataclysm, two centuries before, changed the face of Tellurin and reduced much of Tellurin civilization to rubble.  Fer lives in a small, but sturdy cottage, with her mother and father, Selene and Devlin, a seer and a bard respectively, and her younger half-sister, Aislinn.  She has never left Hartsgrove.
  • Hook the reader – What’s the root cause of Fer’s resentment of her master, the man who could grant her wish to become a mage?  Why does he want to keep her from using her talent?
  • Ask a question (that needs to be answered by the end of the novel) – What is the secret Master Aeldred feared so much he magickally bound Fer’s friends and family to silence?
  • Foreshadow the inciting event – An earth elemental, or nomi, tells Fer the secret is a potentially deadly one though it cannot more than hint at the nature of the secret; she must be strong to face the trials to come.

So I’m slowly working my way through the list without dumping too much backstory or world building on the reader.  Beginnings, why are you so hard?

Some links about beginnings:

On a whim, I’ve signed up for Margie Lawson’s course, A Deep Editing Guide to Making Your Openings Pop, starting May 6, 2013.  She focuses on psycho-linguistic and rhetorical techniques to improve your writing.  My undergrad was focused on rhetoric and I love psychology, linguistics, and brain science, so this looks like it’s right up my alley.  Will let you know how it goes.

I might do the crazy and send my beginning (when I’m more or less happy with it) to Ray Rhamey’s Flogging the Quill to see if it passes his test.  Stay tuned.

Short Stories and poetry

Well, so far, I’ve kept up with Kasie Whitener’s Just Write short story challenge.  I’ve written a completely new short story for each of January, February, and March.  I’m a little behind in April, and may opt for flash fiction to make up the short fall.

The short story that I revised and sent to On Spec in January has been accepted (!)  I am very (like !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) excited about this, even though I know that it won’t be in print until sometime next year.  I’m looking forward to working with their editorial team to whip “Downtime” into shape.

“Beneath the Foundations (original story #2),” my attempt at medieval Cthulian for Sword and Mythos was rejected.

“A Terrible Thing” was rejected by the editors of Tesseracts 17.

It’s too early to have heard back from either Writers of the Future, to whom I sent “The Gabriel,” or In Places Between, to which I submitted “Molly Finder (original short story #3).”

There wasn’t room for my poem “peregrine” on the League of Canadian Poets National Poetry Month blog, but I have subsequently submitted that poem plus two more, “contain you” and “infant crawls,” to Sulphur.

From last year’s submissions, I learned that my submission to Mark Leslie’s Spooky Sudbury will be included in the publication, and my poem, “north of thule” was included in the fabulous Sopphey Vance’s Enhance no. 11.  It’s been a good month (and a bit) for happy dancing!

I’m going to work on something flashy this week to round out April’s short story quota, and set to work on another original for May in hopes of garnering some attention in the Rannu Fund competition.May Submit-o-rama Choice

I’ve joined Khara House’s May submit-o-rama and have committed to 1 submission per week in the Choose Your Own Challenge category.  Rannu will make up only one of those, so I’ll have to get my arse moving on identifying other submission opportunities (!)

Critiquing

Actually finished the BIG critique for my online group and am working on a review of the first 100 pages of another online critique buddy.

Have only three people left to critique for the Sudbury Writers’ Guild before I’m caught up with them.  We’re trying to get our stories and poetry together for an anthology.  I put forward “A Terrible Thing” and “Old Crow,” another short story of mine that was rejected by Tyche Books last year (Masked Mosaic anthology).  It looks like “Old Crow” might be salvageable as a short story, but that “A Terrible Thing,” as editors have said—and I’ve thought—in the past, is really a novel in the making.

Conferences

A local effort, Wordstock, will be happening June 7 and 8 at the Sudbury Theatre Centre.  This is the first year for the event, and the organizers are hoping to build on what they hope to be this year’s success.  The SWG has a block of time for readings.

I’ve registered for the Canadian Authors Association CanWrite! conference in Orillia, June 12-16, and booked my room in the Orillia campus of Lakehead University.

I’m still waffling about When Worlds Collide August 9-11.  The registration fee is reasonable in the extreme, but I still have to bear the cost of the flight and accommodation.

One reason I’m waffling is because I want to go to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference this year (Oct 25-27).  Domestic flights are sooooo expensive.  Right now, a return to either Calgary or Vancouver for the conference dates is showing as over $1000.  It may be an either/or kind of thing for me.  Or I might just cash in my Avion or Aeroplan points for one or the other flight.  That’s an idea!  Thanks for letting me suss that one out online 😛

I think that’s all the conferencing I can take for this year.  Next year, I hope to add some fancons like Ad Astra.  We’ll see how the financial situation sits.  And my various air rewards plan balances 🙂

Other stuff

Taxes done and refund received 🙂

Am still putting off the decision to move to WordPress.org.  I think I just need some dedicated time to devote to research and reflection.

Hope all is well with you and your writing lives.

I’d love to hear from you about your latest literary adventures!

Tonight’s viewing line-up: Doctor Who and Orphan Black!

Tomorrow, I’ll share my thoughts on happiness and how my experiences have influenced my writing in the final instalment of a life sentence with mortal punctuation.

Caturday Quickies: Other Writerly Goodness to share

In other writerly news

A couple of weeks ago, Mark Leslie contacted me about my submission to his Spooky Sudbury project which will be published through Dundurn Press later this year.  He’s going to include the piece I submitted 🙂

Last week, Sopphey Vance, editor of Enhance Magazine, advised that she was interested in one of my poems.

These were both submissions I had made last fall, while participating in Khara House’s October Submit-O-Rama challenge.  It’s wonderful to know that my efforts are bearing fruit.

On a slight downer, my submission to the League of Canadian Poets’ National Poetry Month Blog has not been accepted.  This is my fault.  I delayed in sending my poem in and they had too many submissions to post everything.  It’s a ‘live and learn’ moment.

Certified and certifiable

I found out the Monday following my return from Chatham, that I passed my certification (yippee!).  I am now a certified trainer through my employer.  This could open up several opportunities for me in coming months.

Also on the work front, my acting position as training coordinator has been extended through to August 31, 2013.  Given the chaos that is my portfolio right now, I’m not so certain that this was a wise move on the part of the powers that be (PTB), but I was happy to accept.

Monday, I’m heading down to Toronto again for a course in writing briefing notes.  This one I’m not facilitating.  Professional development rocks 😉

Platform impasse

WordPress

WordPress (Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri)

I’ve reached the anniversary date of my blog this month and with that have come some challenges that I hope very soon to turn into opportunities.

I have now passed my WordPress follower goal of 100.  I’m currently at 111 and am faced with the challenge of setting up a quarterly newsletter.  I’ve been dragging my heels on this, though, because …

I’m seriously considering migrating to WordPress.org from WordPress.com.  I can’t very well set up a newsletter on my current site and then leave it.

I’ve been reading up on the process of migration/blog set up through WPBeginner and Michael Hyatt.  I’m pretty certain I can make the leap, but I want to parse my posts first.  I need to ensure that my pictures are either my own, or provided courtesy of a commons license.  I want to edit some of my posts too, so that I can make sure that my best foot is put forward.  I know that few if any people will peruse the archives, but I want to be ready of they do.  This is going to take some time.

With the move, I’m also considering a change in theme/appearance.  This also deserves some careful consideration.

Do you have any suggestions for a new theme?  Any and all welcome in the comments below.

Alas, Google Reader, I knew him well

Only days after the announcement that Google Reader would be decommissioned in July, the option disappeared from my more + tab.  Not interested in spending the time trying to find a buried link, I decided to try Feedly.

Feedly Logo and iPhone App Design

Feedly Logo and iPhone App Design (Photo credit: imjustcreative)

So far, so good.  I’d definitely recommend giving it a try.

What I’m working on now

So … I’ve been mentioning for ever that I’m going to submit some more poetry.  I’m now thinking Sulphur will be one of those.  Maybe they’ll like the poem that the League passed on 😉

I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of Initiate of Stone, but since the beginning requires significant rewriting, this has not been easy.  The progress is painfully slow.

I’m having better luck with the short stories and hope to have them completed/revised in advance of their respective dues dates.

Just as a reminder: Writers of the Future closes April 1 and In Places Between April 4.

Recently, I became aware of the Rannu Fund prize.  Bonus: Cory Doctorow is one of the tie-breaking judges.

Conferences

Was looking at the CanWrite! conference this year and it looks quite good.  So good, I’ve just registered 🙂

My other goal is to attend the Surrey International Writers Conference.  Registration isn’t open yet, but I’ll keep watching.  Also, their annual writing contest opens April 1.

So there’s lots of Writerly Goodness going on.

What’s happening in your writerly life?

Caturday Quickies

The next chapter: Diving back in

The last of my caturday quickies is a bit of an update on the work in progress (WIP) and other writing projects I’m tackling these days.

I revised my short story “A Terrible Thing” for Tesseracts 17 and submitted that on February 27, just one day before the deadline (!)  I submitted a short story back in October for the competition, but was not successful at that time, though the rejection letter was of the very encouraging variety (please send us something else).  I followed the editors’ advice, and ATT is sufficiently different from the story I submitted last fall that I hope it will tickle some fancies 🙂

I also submitted a poem for the League of Canadian Poets’ National Poetry Month blog: “peregrine.”  I’ll link through when it’s posted.

In related news, I forwarded an opportunity to my friend, Kim Fahner, a couple of months ago, and she, in turn, asked her publisher to submit her poetry collection, The Narcoleptic Madonna, to the powers that be.  The result?  Kim will be participating in the Battle of the Bards at Harbourfront Centre April 3rd!

It’s inspired me to think more seriously about submitting some of my poetry to various publications.  We’ll see where that leads.

As of today, I’ll be diving back in to Initiate of Stone and the next set of revisions.  I’ll also be revising “The Michael” for the Writers of the Future competition and working on a new story, “Way Station,”  (which the Retro Suites inspired) for In places between.

Finally, after my bout of training fury and certification regret, I’ll be catching up with my critiquing crew.

I never did work further on Gerod and the Lions.  I am hoping that I got far enough into it that I’ll be able to pick up the threads when the time comes.

A not so pleasant writing-related task that I’ll be picking up shortly, is collecting all my various financial bits and pieces and submitting my taxes.  I claim writing as self-employment on my income tax.  My lack of recent publishing success is a bit of a concern, but it’s certainly not for lack of effort 🙂  Do you think auditors would accept this blog as evidence of my industry? 😉

Writerly Goodness

Writerly Goodness

What’s been happening in your writerly lives lately, my friends?  Are you writing “hard”?

What’s coming: I’ll continue my series, A life sentence with mortal punctuation, tomorrow, and in the future, I hope to have an interview with Amazon Breakthrough Novelist Award 2012 quarter-finalist Alon Shalev regarding his writing life and the second book in the Wycaan Master Series, The First Decree.

Caturday Quickies: Susan McMaster Workshop

Susan McMaster

Susan McMaster (Photo credit: pesbo)

When I originally indicated that I was going to change my blogging schedule to weekends only, one of my online writing friends commented on how wonderful the idea was of a ‘flurry of posts’ on the weekend.

I’ve been posting fairly consistently on the weekends since, but I realized that I have a few things to catch up on.  So this weekend, though the weather is sunny and cold here in the Sudz, I’m creating my own mini storm of blog posts.

Who is Susan McMaster?

Susan McMaster is a past-president of the League of Canadian Poets, poet, and spoken word artist.  She’s given a workshop in the north before, and this time, I decided to partake.

The Sudbury Writers’ Guild had enough funds in its coffers to pay Susan’s fee for the afternoon workshop and to secure space at the newly rebuilt south end branch of the Sudbury Public Library.

The theme of the workshop was Writing through the Emotions.

Susan gave a brief introduction and offered up a couple of samples of her work and the work of other poets to illustrate.  Breath and space seemed to be the key elements to evoking emotion in poetry, and so, when Susan gave us our writing assignment, I was expecting something a little different.

For the first part, we weren’t to write a single word.  Instead, we were to map out what we were going to write in terms of beats.  Long, flowing sentences would be represented by lines and short, curt sentences and breaths by carets.

Though I think several of us (fiction writers, in particular) struggled with the concept, we all dove in with enthusiasm and gave it our best.

Afterward, we had the opportunity to read from either our work of the afternoon, or something that we had brought with us.

Though only two and a half hours, the workshop was interesting and gave me a different way to look at my writing that I hadn’t considered before.

An interview with Kim Fahner

Kim FahnerKim Fahner lives and writes in Sudbury, Ontario, where she teaches English at Marymount Academy.  She had published two books of poems, You Must Imagine the Cold Here (Your Scrivener Press, 1997) and Braille on water (Penumbra Press, 2001).  This new book, The Narcoleptic Madonna, is also being published by Penumbra Press (2012).  Kim is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, The League of Canadian Poets, and PEN Canada.  She worked with Timothy Findley through the Humber School for Writers back in the late 1990s.  Most recently, she served on the editorial board of the ezine, terra nord/north.

_______________________________________________________________________

WG: First, hugs and thanks for virtually gracing me with your poetic presence here on Writerly Goodness.  I’m really excited about the launch of The Narcoleptic Madonna on Friday, December 7, 7pm, at Thorneloe University Theatre.

TNM will be your third poetry collection.  Could you comment on how, from the poet’s perspective, your work has evolved from You Must Imagine the Cold Here, through Braille on Water, to TNM?

KF:  If I consider how my work has evolved over the years, since the publication of my first little book of poems in 1997, I find some aspects echo through all three collections, but I also find that I have grown both as a person and as a poet.  This is to be expected.  My early poems were often lengthy, wordy and more narrative in nature.  I still have narrative work, but it might be more of a ‘narrative lyric’ in style and form.  My most recent poems, some unpublished, are purposeful experiments in poetics.  In August of this year, I attended an ekphrastic poetry workshop at the Anam Cara Writers’ and Artists’ Retreat in Eyeries, on the Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork, Ireland.  I had, prior to that, written a few ekphrastic poems, but now I am very enamoured of the genre.  That wonderful retreat was led by Seattle poet, Susan Rich, and attended by poets from around the world.  Since then, I’ve been playing with the idea of persona poems and dabbling more and more in the ekphrastic field.  I’m trying to stretch out in a poetic yoga pose, so to speak.  I want to continue to challenge myself to evolve as a poet.

WG: How or from where do the ideas for your poems come to you?

KF:    I think, as many poets might say, my ideas for poems come from life itself.  I find that I am always observing others.  Poets need to be in the world, but not always of the world, if that makes any sense.  We must hover on the margins, so as to better see how people behave in the world.  I get poetic ideas when I’m walking my dogs.  I find inspiration in nature, something that is prevalent here in Northern Ontario.  I also love to travel and I find that traveling often inspires me to write.

WG: What themes does TNM address?

KF:  This new collection, The Narcoleptic Madonna, seems to have a few key thematic threads running through it.  The most obvious, to me, is that of the idea of journeying to find oneself.  I often find that I must journey outwardly in order to go inside.  By traveling, I journey within myself and uncover new layers of being.  Sounds elitist, but it’s not.  It’s just a heightened awareness of who and what you’re made of, and how you fit into the world around you.  The collection covers poetry that was written over a twelve year period of time.  During the last ten years, I spent a great deal of time taking care of my parents as they became ill and then died.  This was transformative to me, in terms of how I defined myself and how I saw myself.  As a result of that, a number of the poems in NM deal with life, love, death, and the recreation of spirit that comes after death.  It really is a collection that speaks to the phoenix-like quality of life itself.  There are endings, but those endings always seem to spawn new beginnings.  I’m not saying it’s easy to recreate oneself after losing someone you love, but it’s necessary and unavoidable.  That process, of walking someone through the last years of their life, isn’t an easy one, but it did serve as inspiration for poetry and for reflection on lessons learned.  I also spent a great deal of time dealing with depression.  This, too, was a painful, but transformative process for me.  Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom in order to recreate yourself.  That seems to have been part of my process, as a person, and that process is reflected in my work.

WG: I’m a big fan of writing process.  Could you say a few words about your process as a poet?

KF:   I’m not the best at revision.  Usually, when I’m not experimenting with purposeful poetic exercises like ekphrasis or persona, I tend to find that lines discover me!  Usually, when I’m walking, images come to visit.  Sometimes they come to me in dreams, but if I don’t write them down, they disappear.  Other times, when I’m driving through the city on the way to work, I see people and begin to wonder at their lives.  A poem comes to me quickly, in a rush of lines or a first stanza.  Then, I might leave it for a day or so, but whenever I return to it, the poem writes itself in a rush.  I fiddle with it a bit, initially, but then it sits on its own for a few days.  When I return, I slice and dice it a bit, but I’m nowhere near the expert at revision as some of my poet friends are.

WG: Given all of the above, how long did TNM take to come together for you?

KF:  The final part of the collection, its acceptance by publisher John Flood and Penumbra Press, has birthed itself over the last ten months or so.  I had submitted the manuscript to another press, but it was rejected.  Then, I sent the collection to John and he had it for a while.  He emailed me in January or Februrary of 2012 and said he was interested in publishing the work.  I was thrilled.  The last few months, from September onward, has been a time or editing, proofreading and revision.  I love working with John because he has decades of experience in working with poets, so he often sees things in my work that I would rather ignore.  He’ll suggest revisions that, initially, I might resist.  That’s all ego, though, as I always initially feel ‘Oh, I can’t change that….it’s my poem.’  Once I get past the idea of resisting the suggested revision of my work, I always get to a place where I see that his edits are things that make my poems stronger, leaner, and more than what they were before.  I trust him implicitly now and I know he sees my work with more objective eyes.

The actual writing of the manuscript, though, has stretched over a twelve year period.  The topics of the poems vary, but I notice that I am always a keen employer of metaphor in my work.  It’s my favourite poetic device, I am sure!  I think in metaphor on a daily basis, and I know I teach through metaphor as well, so it makes sense that metaphor plays such a key role in my work.

WG: Is there anything else you’d like to share about NM?

KF:   I’m just very excited to have this book come into the world.  My only regret is that my parents aren’t here to share in it.  Without them, without their support, I would never have come this far in my life as a poet.  They were always supportive of my creative sidnarcolepticcovere.  When I decided not to do a PhD in English years ago, in my mid-twenties, because I was worried about what academia would do to my creative work, they were the first to reassure me that I wasn’t making a mistake.  The certainty that they had in my gift, in my talent, was comforting.  I just wish they were still here to see NM arrive in the world.  I think they would have loved it.  It’s dedicated to their memory and I hold them close to my heart.

WG: Thank you for dropping by Writerly Goodness, and for your time and thoughtfulness in sharing these insights.

_______________________________________________________________________

The countdown to Kim’s launch has begun!  In six days she’ll be at Thorneloe University Theatre reading from her brand-spanking new book.  Will you be there?  I certainly will!

NEOVerse

One of the contests I entered while I was struggling through grad school was for the League of Canadian Poets.  Through that competition, one of my poems was selected for publication in the 1997 (W)rites of Spring.

I read at their gala (with Valerie Senyk, Roger Nash, Sonja Dunn, Katerina Fretwell, and others) and subsequently submitted my poetry to Dr. Laurence Steven, who was now the proud owner of Your Scrivener Press.  He accepted my work and along with the work of two other northeastern Ontario poets, Monique Chenier and Natalie Wilson, he published NeoVerse (1999).

It stood for northeastern Ontario verse, but in a way, it was the beginning of a whole new life for me creatively.

I traveled all over the north giving readings that year: North Bay, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, and Parry Sound.  Due in part to my reading activity, I was invited to participate in an event in Caledon called Word Harvest, where several other poets were performing.

Thanks to the publication of my poetry in chapbook form, I was able to become an associate member of the League of Canadian Poets.

Also around that time, I was writing articles for the Sudbury Arts Council (SAC) in the Sudbury Star, after having served on the newspaper’s readers board for a term; I wrote interviews for the Laurentian University Alumni Magazine, and articles for Georgian Bay Today.  GBT didn’t last long.  The way I was to be paid was to sell advertising to local retailers.  I was not then, nor am I now, a salesperson, by any stretch of the imagination.

I put together a few workshops for elementary and high schools, and even one for the Manitoulin Writers’ retreat.

I was also putting together Web pages for the Huntington University Library and for the Art Gallery of Sudbury.  This was the old-fashioned (ha!), type-your-tags-out-in-Wordpad, HTML Web pages.  Eventually I adopted Microsoft FrontPage.

I started to write reviews for the Canadian Book Review Annual, took another short-term contract at the Cambrian College Library, and then two of my Laurentian professors contacted me with an offer of employment.  It would only be a part-time contract, but I could be the executive assistant for an organization called ACCUTE, the association of Canadian college and university teachers of English.

There, I developed another Web site, published the quarterly newsletter, and helped to coordinate their annual conference.

My first year with ACCUTE I did the crazy and auditioned for Theatre Cambrian’s production of Hair.  It was hard work.  Dancing, singing, and acting.  It was also one of the most fun, most amazing experiences of my life.

How about you?  Was there a time in your life when you became creatively fecund? What happened?  If you’re blogging about it, link through in your comments.  I’d love to see what you’ve been up to 🙂

Like, comment, share, subscribe! (The social media equivalent of think-do-create-BE!)