Showing posts from 2024

The Gratitudes

Every morning I check in with myself, in writing. As part of that, I list three things for which I'm grateful, with caveats. I can't name coffee, and I can't name my husband generally, though specific incidence for which I'm grateful are fair game occasionally. I'm also thisclose to adding that I can't name sleep, because it's supposed to be about gratitude, not a referendum on how well I slept. Springtime Sun This exercise actually has two parts. First, I notice things I'm grateful for. Then I name them in writing of a morning. The whole thing may sound cheesy, but it's useful. It encourages me to look for positive things as the day goes along and then recall them the next morning. Part of being alive in the world, I think, includes being grateful for Big Things. For living someplace that isn't being bombed. For generally living in a place, time, and context in which I'm not often (deliberately or innocently) misunderstood. For having opport

This is the Fun Part: CBC Sudbury

One of the best parts of participating in the world of publishing is that you can talk with readers and writers about reading and writing.  I guess that's always available, but since publishing MAKING UP THE GODS, I've had many opportunities to talk with people, both formally and informally. The interviews are always fun and always different. Recently, I spoke with Jonathan Pinto at CBC Sudbury on their afternoon show, Up North. (You can find it here .) It's been several months since my book was released and I'm grateful people are still interested in it--and it's so nice to be able to express my gratitude and my belief in the importance of stories to represent the world around us. Also, many interviewers ask "what's next?" and to make sure I'm not lying when I say "I'm working on another novel," I've been working on another novel. I do ENJOY writing, when I DO it instead of circling it or despairing the value of the writing I hav

Grateful for the Honour

Last weekend, the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop honoured me with the Kouhi Award. LitFest offered two days of writerly events, including the Saturday banquet with excellent food! Thank you! Flowers are always welcome Here's how they choose people for this award: " The Kouhi Award was established by NOWW in 1999 to recognize 'outstanding contributions to the literature of Northwestern Ontario.' It is named in honour of poet Elizabeth Kouhi." My husband, Roy Blomstrom, was honoured last year. Given the range and quality of his writing--plays, poems, short prose, now three novels, various contest wins and shortlistings--I was especially surprised to be recognized. I'm so grateful. It's humbling to feel seen in this way.  One of the weirdest parts of writing something to share is that feeling of exposure. Yes, you sent your writing out into the publishing world, and you knew that meant it might be published--shared on a platform larger than yours alon

Borders and Boundaries and Beyond

As a dual citizen of the US and Canada, with a Canadian mother and an American father, I've crossed that border often.* I've had decades to think about borders. (I even blogged about them for a while.) And boundaries--both the geographical kind and the personal kind. Artsy vacation shot :) . I recently made a cross-border trip, my first extended visit since pandemic lockdowns, and wondered again about the people in an office somewhere drawing lines on a map. I also thought about the ways I expected my life to unfold, and how different my experience has been. Performing onstage has never appealed to me--I managed it as a musician because of all the others up there with me. Safety in numbers and all that. So as I turned from professional and technical writing to creative work, the thought of reading my own work aloud in front of others, and trying to say something coherent in interviews, was daunting. Imagine my surprise to learn that I enjoy talking about my work, both my essay

Thank You For Your Support for Artists

Today I'm grateful for the way Canada supports its arts and artists.  Thank you for your support. IYKYK. First, grants. I've been fortunate to receive several grants for my writing from the province of Ontario, through the Ontario Arts Council  (OAC).  Digression: I actually think of it as "my writing received the grant," because it has less to do with me as a human and more to do with the work I submitted. I strongly believe in this framing, whether your work is awarded a top prize or rejected by a literary journal. It's your work --not you.    My work has been awarded what the OAC now calls "creation" grants to support the, uh, creation of a full-length work of poetry or prose. The OAC also has a "recommender" program, in which publishers in Ontario evaluate manuscripts and recommend some of the many manuscripts they receive to be awarded funding. This year I received two recommender grants, one from Latitude 46 Publishing, the Sudbury publ

Interviews and Such for Making Up the Gods

Here are some further adventures in the fun opportunities to talk about a book! Recently, the kind folks at River Street Writing hosted me for the Power Q&A series, featured on their blog.   In the autumn, my book was featured at the local bookstore. A dream come true.  It was so great to have the chance to reflect on the fact that MAKING UP THE GODS is a story infused with grief. I actually thought I was writing about how adults make decisions, but, as Semisonic says, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." So yes, grief!  I was also fortunate to be part of the "Story Share" series on the Jacqui Just Chatters podcast! She did a cross-promotion with the Bookish Flights podcast , and a total of four people shared their stories about books that have impacted our lives.  I could probably keep the podcast in stories for years, but one book has been on my mind quite a bit as I've shared MAKING UP THE GODS with the world--MRS. MINIVER, by

I Love People Who Love Books

As I've mentioned previously, I had the great good fortune in January to attend the Ontario Library Association's Superconference this year to sign books in the Ontario Book Publisher Organization's pavilion.  The theme of the conference was GET LOUD, and I can testify that the expo hall was buzzing with excitement. I met retired librarians who attended because they just loved the conference SO MUCH. (One with a Thunder Bay connection, because that's Thunder Bay.) I met people still working on degrees and certifications in book- and library-adjacent topics (publishing, library professions, database work, social work).  The image on the cover of MAKING UP THE GODS, based on an original collage by Erin Stewart. I met people less directly related to the actual physical libraries themselves. Such as representatives of powerhouse university presses located thousands of miles away who attended because Ontario libraries have wide-ranging tastes and are interested in universi

Retreat and Return

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


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!

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

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!

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