Ring My Bell

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(Yes, a post that has nothing to do with The Unwanted. I know, shocking.)

Last week was a hectic one. On Thursday I turned in my thesis for my creative writing graduate degree. Bonus: I had company! My friends Charles and Beth were also turning in theirs. So did my friend Rebecca, who’s not pictured here (how did that happen? I have no idea), but she’s waiting to ring the bell when her parents come for graduation.

I do have one other script to read and give feedback on for a class that had its last meeting last Thursday, but other than that… I’m done. And it’s kind of weird. Also, a tiny bit panic-inducing. I’ve known all along that once this was over, I would have to find a job.

Well, here we are.

I have another month or so here in Vancouver, and after that, it’s back to St. Louis. I went for a long, meandering bike ride to Stanley Park yesterday, and the day before I began my search for the best poutine in town. (Hence the need for the bike ride.) In between looking for gainful employment and stressing about The Unwanted and thinking about my next project, I’m going to make the most of my time here, because it has a sell-by date.

What’s #MyWritingProcess? I’m glad you asked….

Juliann RichThese things are a little like internet chain letters, aren’t they? I’m a sucker for reading about other writers’ processes, though, so when Juliann Rich asked if I’d like to participate, I said yes pretty much right away. Juliann’s debut novel, Caught in the Crossfire, is available for pre-order now. I’m really looking forward to reading it. You can read about her writing process here.

Right, on with the questions!

1) What am I working on?
At the moment, my third cup of coffee of the day. I’m also finishing up edits on my thesis (have I mentioned I’m in grad school? Well, I’m in grad school), which is a speculative fiction novel. Once it’s turned in, I’ll have a few more edits to do (I’ve gotten some fantastic feedback from my faculty readers), and then it’ll be time to find an agent.

In the meantime, I’m also working on revising several short stories, sending them out, working on a sequel to The Unwanted, a novel about the private investigator in “Murder on the Midway,” which was in Men of the Mean Streets, as well as a middle-grade science fiction novel I started last year and really want to get back to. One thing at a time, though.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Um, it has my name on it? I know that’s not the answer we’re looking for here, but it’s the first thing that came to mind.

I think that the thing that distinguishes my work is the fact that it usually straddles two or more genres at the same time. One of my colleagues in my fiction workshop this year called me a genre chameleon. That’s kind of accurate, I think. I try to respect the rules of a genre while at the same time giving them a turn that keeps it interesting to me. I also look for an emotional center to revolve around.

3) Why do I write what I do?
Because the voices tell me to. Seriously, though, I often have no idea. It’s what comes to mind and what interests me. The synapses fire in a new, unusual pattern and an idea forms.

4) How does my writing process work?
In fits and starts, usually. I don’t have a set process and I try not to get too rigid with it anyway. I write on a computer or in a notebook, or sometimes on a typewriter.

So, who’s up next?

Well, that would be:

’Nathan Burgoine, who is basically my writing twin, since we more or less got started at the same time and have been in a number of anthologies together since then. He’s Willow to my Buffy or Buffy to my Willow, I can’t be sure which. (If I’m Willow, it’s the Willow during her dark time.) His debut novel, Light, is a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. So he’s basically awesome.

Jess Faraday is no stranger to award nominations either. Her novel The Affair of the Porcelain Dog was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and the follow-up, Turnbull House, is out now. Check it out.

Greg Herren is the award-winning author of the Chanse MacLeod and Scotty Bradley mystery series, as well as the YA novels Lake Thirteen, Sara, Sleeping Angel, and others. He’s also my editor and I have so much to thank him for it’s ridiculous.

Check them out next week! (And thanks, Juliann, for getting me in on this.)

Seen in the wild!

IMG_20140405_150925I owe some thanks to Gavin Atlas, who was in St. Louis this past weekend and sent me this snapshot of The Unwanted at my favorite bookstore, Left Bank Books. And it’s facing out, no less!

On top of that, if you go over to Chelsea Station magazine, you’ll find a review of The Unwanted by Keith Glaeske. You’ll also find one over at Out in Print.

Don’t forget there’s a giveaway going on over at Goodreads. I’ll be giving away five copies of the book (U.S. and Canadian addresses only—sorry, but international postage is expensive). You’ve got until April 16 to enter!

Missing deadlines like Douglas Adams

You know what I mean. That great quote by Mr. Hitchhikers Guide: “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” That happened to me this week. I was working on not one but two stories to submit for contests with March 31 deadlines, and as I sat down to submit one of them on Monday night, I discovered I’d fallen victim to the East Coast bias. Here on the West Coast at 9pm it was still March 31, but over there on the other side, it was already April 1. No foolin’.

Which sucks, but it gives me time to work on the stories a bit more.

One deadline I didn’t miss though was the deadline to apply for the Lambda Literary Foundation 2014 Writers Retreat. My friend Leah Horlick was a participant in 2012 and said it was fantastic, and Lucy Jane Bledsoe is the instructor for the fiction portion of the retreat. So, fingers crossed.

Tonight is the reading at Green College with Nancy Lee and Laisha Rosnau. I just finished Nancy’s novel The Age and am reading Laisha’s book of poetry, Pluck. They’re both pretty amazing. If you’re in Vancouver, you should really come to this. You should also stick around for the reading by the fireside at 8pm, which will include me along with colleagues Nicole Boyce, Sarah Higgins, and Sugar le Fae. Should be fun.

IMG_1731Speaking of fun, here’s a picture, courtesy of my friend Ruth Daniell, from last weekend’s reading at the UBC Bookstore. In case I hadn’t mentioned it, I’ve cut my hair, which means I no longer look like my author photo…..

UBC Bookstore Reading March 29

book_the_date_mesh_panel_PRINTHey, Vancouverites! If you’re free on Saturday, March 29, come out to the UBC bookstore at the Vancouver campus to hear me read. It’s part of the bookstore’s grand reopening after a big renovation. (Everything, it seems, is under renovation or construction around here. You think UBC stands for “University of British Columbia”? No, it apparently stands for “University of Building Construction.”)

I’ll be reading from 1:40 to 2 p.m., but come out earlier to hear readings by my talented colleagues Ruth Daniell, Rebecca Hales, Francine Cunningham, Charles-Adam Foster-Simard, and Kayla Czaga.The day’s events start at 9:30, and there’ll be free food and giveaways. (And who doesn’t like free?)

Why the arts matter to civilization

“I’m hoping people will look at how they engage with the arts, re-evaluate this notion that gets sold to us that the consumption of a book or a painting or a non-entertainment movie or a play is an elitist activity that you do when important business of your life is completed and you have a little leisure time. That’s just dead wrong.

“Civilization is an agreement people have to behave in certain ways towards each other. It’s not governments and roads and buildings and stock markets. When you engage with works of art you are participating in that conversation. You are judging what is good and what is bad, and what you want and don’t want. It’s really important if we want to have civilization that individuals continue to do this in a thoughtful and reflective way.”

—Steven Galloway

Galloway is the acting chair of the Creative Writing Program at UBC (soon to be my latest alma mater) and discussed this in an interview with the Toronto Star. His novel The Cellist of Sarajevo was chosen by the Toronto Public Library as its One Book for the Keep Toronto Reading festival.

Come Swoon on April 4

Swoon_poster_3Last year I was a reader at Swoon: A Literary Evening of Love, Sex, and Chocolate, held at Cocoa Nymph in Kitsilano. This year, I have the privilege of being co-host with my friend Ruth Daniell. She’s the brains behind the operation; I’m more like Special Guest Star Heather Locklear. (Melrose Place fans will get the reference, though even mentioning it means I’m dating myself.)

And we have quite a list of talent lined up: Garth Martens, whose debut Prologue for the Age of Consequence, is coming out in April from Anansi; Sierra Skye Gemma, winner of the Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest; and Joelle Barron, winner of the Malahat Open Season Award for Poetry. And that’s just three of them! Check out the whole lineup at the Swoon website, and then join us on Friday, April 4, for a delightful and delovely evening.