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Retreat and Return

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As someone who lives in a rural home with another writer, with a great deal of choice over my workday, one might wonder why I would attend a writing retreat. What would I possibly need that I can't get at home? Why would I pay someone a fee to go somewhere else to do what I can already do? For many years, for those reasons, I didn't go. A local informal gathering of writers has been meeting for long, intensive self-directed weekends for years. I never understood the appeal. Yet now, I'm just back from a writing retreat.   The drive out. The view over Lake Marie Louise, toward my home, which lies beyond more land and a bay of Lake Superior. Why did I go? What happened to change my mind? Well, life, mostly.  I first went in 2020. My first book, REVERBERATIONS: A DAUGHTER'S MEDITATIONS ON ALZHEIMER'S, had just come out.  The experience of focusing intently on that one manuscript--short essays--had been extremely productive for me. I'd benefitted greatly from exchan

Review of MAKING UP THE GODS

Last October 14, the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal ran the following review by their longtime arts critic, Michael Sobota. Here's one of my favourite lines: "There are, indeed, a lot of dead people in Making Up The Gods." It makes me laugh every time. And he's absolutely right! They are, as he also notes, VERY important to the choices living people make. Levity aside, I'm very grateful for Michael's review. It's always nice to hear from someone who understands what you were trying to do! And Michael approaches all of his reviews with great generosity of spirit, which adds positivity to the local writing community. Thank you, Michael, for all you do!  ____________________ Marion Agnew's first novel, Making Up The Gods, is a quintessentially Northwestern Ontario story.  It is an exhibition, a celebration even of where we live. We follow three very different but readily recognizable characters for a few weeks in early spring.  Simone is an elderly widow

OLA Superconference Thursday, January 25!

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Just a quick reminder: I'll be at the OLA Superconference on Thursday, tomorrow! I'll sign copies of MAKING UP THE GODS at the Ontario Book Publishers Organization Pavilion at 1 PM.  The conference is in the Metro Toronto Conference Centre. It would be fun to see you there!

Books and More in '24

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Possibly not so much "and more," but definitely books! For a long time I participated in #SundaySentence on a social media platform where I am no longer active.  #SundaySentence was supposed to be one sentence, written by someone else, that you'd read in the previous week and found interesting or arresting or otherwise worth passing along. Sometimes I fudged the dates, but the sentences I posted were all from recent reading. I cross-posted those sentences to Instagram, where I am much more active and enjoy connecting with folks about books and writing. I also compiled them here from time to time.  Recently I recognized that I don't like actually recommending books to people. Too much responsibility. And choosing to post about a book may indicate to someone "she really likes this" as opposed to "she read it and found some elements interesting."  So I began trying to better match books to readers. The results look something like this:   I enjoyed wor

Happy 2024!

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It's January. In Northwestern Ontario, it's not only the cultural time of new beginnings and slightly more sunshine. It usually marks the time of year when the bay in front of my home freezes completely (although Lake Superior proper hardly ever does).  This year, we're a little behind, weather-wise, but we have--at last!--some snow. Ice trying hard to grow, some snow, and more light! Many thanks to readers everywhere, from Kansas to Ohio to North Carolina, from Arizona to Washington State, and all across Canada, who have been in touch over the autumn to let me know their copies of MAKING UP THE GODS arrived! My debut novel has also made a couple of trips--with readers! One to Cancun and another to Cuba.   Also, I'm so grateful to know that the book has touched readers. Several gave copies to friends and family for the holidays, and they're forwarding comments as people read. It's lovely to know. As life picks up after the winter holiday season, I'll be doin

My Sportswatch: What is it Good For?

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Back in September, I mentioned adding a Fitbit into my life and said I'd talk about it some other time . This, apparently, is that time. First, what it is: A Fitbit (like several other brands of sportswatch, I'm assuming) gives you data. It can track steps and types of exercise, as well as specific exercise sessions. The distance you've gone. How much you weigh, how many calories you have burned or should burn based on a goal weight, how restful your sleep was, how mindful you've been (based on their own meditations), and a bunch of other stuff.  A caveat: the data isn't even necessarily especially accurate. I mean, we've all heard stories of people clocking steps while lifting a wineglass, right? So here's a thing: I'm not in training for anything. Other than life, I guess. Sure, I've competed as a swimmer, runner, and triathlete (though not very competitively, if you know what I mean), and I've tried and obsessed over various methods of improvi

November Recap and Recent Publication: See/Be Seen

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 Hi, folks!  November whizzed past in a blur of literary events, and I loved every minute of it. From waking up on my birthday in Wawa, Ontario and being serenaded that evening at Wordstock Sudbury by three former Poets Laureate of Sudbury in the evening, to sitting on a panel with a hugely gifted and influential poet to discuss grief, AND, back home, attending a book club to talk nuts and bolts of character and reality vs. fiction, AND speaking to a ladies' luncheon group, AND reading online for the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop, AND a bunch of other events, it's been a wild ride. (from top): Vera Constantineau, Kim Fahner, and Roger Nash after their serenade. My view at Wordstock, Sudbury's Literary Festival, just before my panel, "Good Grief," began. Lots of fun! November also brought  my first new publication in a while , at Five Minutes ( fiveminutelit.com ). The short essay (100 words EXACTLY about a five-minute life episode)  "See/Be Seen"