Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Recent Results

I have some really exciting and humbling news to share!

* My essay "Atomic Tangerine" was shortlisted by The New Quarterly for its Edna Staebler Personal Essay contest and will appear in the journal in 2018. Also, the essay by Susan Olding, who mentored me this past year, won! I can't wait to read it. The full announcement, for their poetry, fiction, and nonfiction contests, is here. It will be a treat to work with the TNQ editors on my essay.

* Another essay, "Entanglement," was shortlisted for EVENT's 2017 Non-Fiction contest! That announcement is here. I appreciate the recognition.

* My peek behind the scenes is also live at the blog for Compose. In it, I share a little about how I came to write (and rewrite and continue to revise) "Bypass Instructions," which was published in their Spring 2017 issue. (The original essay is here.) It was very valuable to me to reflect a little on my writing process, especially about an event (my husband's heart surgery and our recovery milestones) that was so important to us. And I hope the blog post is interesting to you!

I extend a hearty THANK YOU to all at the literary magazines who work so hard to create opportunities for writers and artists to share work, whether through contests or regular publications.
Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Vacation Reading

In summer, I try to pick up books that I might not normally read. At a recent book signing, I picked up a new-to-me cops/crime trilogy, the Intuition series.

The books have as a home base a mythical town northern Minnesota that is based on Atikokan, though the second book goes to Winnipeg and the third also includes Quantico and towns all along the highways of the north-central US.

The main characters are a young cop and her intuitive girlfriend, and they're great. The secondary characters, too, both friends and antagonists, present an interesting array of characters that feel like real people. The second and third volumes in the series demonstrate more confidence and polish than the first, but even the first title presents a satisfying puzzle to be solved.

And yes, their author, Makenzi Fisk, is the publisher at Mischievous Books, which published the Canadian Shorts anthology in which one of my short stories appeared. Although knowing her inspired me to check out the books, their regional setting, including bogs, waters, and biting insects, won me over.

Go here to buy all three in the series, either physical copies or e-books.

And after reading them, if you leave your keys in an obvious place in your vehicle, I don't even know what to say to you.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Vacation Ramifications

I've been on vacation for the past two-and-a-half weeks. Admittedly "vacation" is a nebulous concept for me, since I live where I used to go for vacation.

Still, my sister comes annually and we stay at our family camp together. We wake up in a hydro-less little place our grandfather built 93 years ago on the shore of Lake Superior. We perk coffee on the propane heater and warm up the house a little (just enough to "take the chill off") on cool mornings by building a small fire in the woodstove. We make toast and eat local peaches and blueberries. We go out in a rowboat, and sometimes we swim (though putting on my swimsuit usually summons afternoon thundershowers). We talk, do silly art projects, work puzzles, read, talk some more, and drink wine coolers in Muskoka chairs on the beach during cocktail hour.

And then we come the half-kilometer back to the house, where I live and work the other 50 weeks of the year, to make supper and to take showers. Nobody said "being out at camp" required feeling yucky or being dirty. Showers feel good, and dishes are easier to clean and keep clean at a normal house.

It works for us. I always enjoy this time, and I'm always grateful for the abundance in which my family lives.

And this year, I'm aware more than ever the privilege demonstrated by so many items in the previous sentences.

Even the concept of "going on vacation"--it's out of financial possibility for many. Like me, decades ago, when I was just out of university, and like many seniors on fixed incomes that now cover grown "children" who want full-time work but struggle to find it, and when they find it, can't survive on it.

Still having a sister--thankfully, forty years ago, she had good health insurance and received effective treatment for a deadly disease that would have killed someone who didn't have insurance and/or who wasn't part of the middle class, who tends to receive better medical care in most systems.

Family property--it was claimed by and has since been held in the family through more than a few lean years and various deaths, all helped by the presence of my husband in the house next door, long before he became my husband. Yes, there's more to that story, but that's not the point.

Those are big things I'm grateful for. I'm aware of many "small" things, too.

Like enjoying an afternoon drink without worrying about anything more than whether I'm slightly more vulnerable in the unlikely event of impending violence. That is, I'm a woman, but I'm a white woman. Nobody judges me for buying or drinking an alcoholic beverage, and nobody judges the entire ethnic/gender/cultural group I belong to by how I behave.

Like being able to "ignore" politics, if I choose, for nearly three weeks, without worrying whether my healthcare will be taken from me, my marriage will be annulled, my body and health will somehow belong to a person who does violence to me, my right to vote will be removed, or my children or parents or grandparents will be deported.

And, just in the past few days, without worrying that groups of hate-filled people will decide I'm not fully human because of my ethnic or cultural background. Without worrying about the local newspaper of record printing a screed containing many factually incorrect statements that accuse me and others of my culture of freeloading.

Yes, I've been on vacation. But I'm still aware of the irresponsible behaviour of the media in my hometown. Of the violence in the streets of my home country. I may have been posting photos of dripping oars, laden tables, and sunrises, but I've been watching and fuming and grieving.

And I'm here, albeit late, to join the voices: what has been happening is not okay. And I'll join efforts locally and internationally to stop that BS.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Of Family, Crankiness, and Devil(l)ed Eggs

My essay entitled "Nulliparous" is now live at Pithead Chapel! Go here for some summer reading.

It's really neat to be part of this publication. This month, there's more creative nonfiction as well as prose poems and fiction. Lots of great stuff! (And they're accepting entries for their short story contest, too.)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Cross Words

For the past year, I've done a crossword puzzle nearly every day.

I got hooked while on vacation. It's been really fun to try to figure out what other people think words mean.

Plus I've learned about things along the way. Like the plant indigo comes from: anil. And that there are many sites devoted to crossword puzzles online.

Also it reminded me of this 2006 documentary, Wordplay.

In the trailer above, former President Clinton says he does them to see what people are thinking about. Me, too. Many more recent movie stars than I had anticipated.

Right now, I'm thinking about going for a row with my sister. To read more about that, you could check out this essay, "Backwards, Opposite, Contrary," at Full Grown People. There's lots of other good stuff at FGP, too.

So: a ten-letter word for "holiday without leaving home" is "staycation," and I'm on one. Even if that's NOT an officially recognized word for puzzles.