Vancouver, something wicked your way comes

Caprica City, before the Fall. (Okay, it's really Vancouver, but still.)

Caprica City, before the Fall. (Okay, it’s really Vancouver, but still.)

That would be I, of course.

I’ll be in Caprica City Vancouver next month, where I’ll be taking a workshop at UBC in their summer creative writing residency on, appropriately, teaching creative writing. (This was a class I didn’t get the chance to take while I was finishing my MFA, and it’s taught by the fabulous Nancy Lee, author of Dead Girls and The Age, which you should really read if you haven’t had the chance because it’s awfully good.)

I’ll also be eating a lot of ice cream and poutine (pictures galore on Instagram, no doubt!), mostly in the company of my two very talented writer friends Sierra Skye Gemma and poet Ruth Daniell, and I want to draw your attention to this bit of news: She’s the resident poet for Small Wonder magazine, a new quarterly “for kids and their grown-ups.” Her first collaboration with them is a series of poems all about fruit, in their third issue. So check that out.

Ruth is also putting together an anthology for Caitlin Press called Boobs: Explorations of Women’s Relationships to Their Bodies. If you have something to say on the topic, check out the call for submissions here. Deadline’s October 12, so don’t dawdle.

I really can’t wait. I’m gonna go run along the seawall and go to Granville Islandand go to the beach and walk through Stanley Park and go to my favourite pub and start spelling everything with u’s again and….

VSC tally: 25,000 words, a new novel, a new short story, three revisions and 8 pounds

May_2015_Group

I’m back! Did you miss me?

As you may recall, I spent the month of May in the tiny town of Johnson, Vermont at the Vermont Studio Center, where I was one of about 60 artists in residence. This was my first residency, and I wasn’t sure how much I’d get done; in a month with almost no distractions except the ones in my head, would I manage to be productive?

The answer: hell yes, I would.

I managed to write 25,000 words on the sequel to The Unwanted, and while I was working on that, I was brainstorming about the third/last book in the series, and brainstorming led quickly to several thousand words in that. At the same time, a craft lecture on revision by Matt Bell (he’s awesome, by the way; his new novel Scrapper comes out in September) got me thinking about the novel I wrote in grad school, and before I knew it [note to self: clichéd phrasing, revise] I was revising that. I’ve gone through the first fifty pages and cut about ten pages in all. So, that’s progress. I also started revising two short stories, started writing a new one, and made five submissions to literary magazines. (Because how am I going to keep up my collection of rejection letters otherwise? Right?)

To say the month in Vermont was more productive than the rest of the year to date wouldn’t be overstating things, really.

I also gained eight pounds. They fed us well.

Even better, I gained a lot of new friends, fellow writers and artists and who get it. It felt like my tribe. Well, one of my tribes, anyway.

I made time for fun, too, and there are a lot of pictures over on Flickr from my month there. If you see me in person, remind me to tell you about my adventures in karaoke. Madonna and Taylor Swift were involved….

A Silver IPPY Medal for A Family by Any Other Name!

FamilyByAnyOtherName_cvr_catAs you all may recall, I had an essay in the anthology A Family by Any Other Name, published by TouchWood Editions (it was my first Canadian publication!). The anthology, edited by Bruce Gillespie, has won a silver medal in the LGBT non-fiction category in the 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards. And—and!—the other award winners include my friend D.L. King who won silver for the anthology she edited, The Big Book of Domination; Bridget Birdsall, who took the gold in LGBT fiction for Double Exposure—she and I were on the YA fiction panel at Saints & Sinners this year; and Victoria A. Brownworth, whose novel Ordinary Mayhem won the bronze in the Horror category.

Check out all the winners here. Congratulations, everyone!

Unplugging in Vermont

It’s May in St. Louis, which means the mercury is creeping up into the 80s and that means there’s only one thing for someone coldblooded like me to do: get the heck out of town!

For the month of May, I’ll be hiding out in the woods of Vermont and working on a manuscript. Well, not exactly hiding—I’ll be at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, which is a very small town in the northern part of the state. (Where exactly, you ask? Right here, actually.) What’s close by? Zoom out on that map view. Zoom out again. A little more.

Get the picture? Exactly.

Well, to be honest, it’s not that far from Montreal, but my French is too rusty for that.

Anyway! If things are quiet around here, that’s why. I’ll have internet access, but I’ll be doing my best to hunker down and finish a draft of the next novel. And maybe I’ll be sending out a few more stories. And sending out that other novel manuscript and seeing if there’s an agent out there for it.

But mostly I’ll be working on the next novel. Because Amazons. And gods. And stuff.

This week in “OMG I have so many talented friends!”

So, Canada’s National Magazine Award nominees were announced this week. (This week? Maybe it was last week. Time is wibbly wobbly timey—well, you know.) And I’m not at all surprised to see that some of my writing friends are among those nominees this year. Kim McCullough is nominated for her piece “Night / Light” in Grain magazine. Kayla Czaga is nominated for her poetry “Song; Funny” in Arc Poetry Magazine. And—and!—andrea bennett is nominated for her piece “Water upon the Earth” in Maisonneuve. You all rock.

Check out the whole list of nominees here.

Sierra Skye Gemma at The Globe and Mail

globe-and-mail-illustrationMy friend and colleague Sierra Skye Gemma recently had a fantastic piece published in The Globe and Mail (for those who are south of 49, that’s like the equivalent of The New York Times in Canada). Titled “My Sexual Education,” it’s both a tough read as well as an affirming and positive one. (And the illustration by Rob Dobi that accompanied it is AWESOME.)

Check it out. And congratulations, Sierra!

Slow down, cowpoke—plus, an interview with (you guessed it) me

Sometimes life tells you that maybe, maybe you’re trying to do a little too much all at once? I think that may have been the case with me the past couple weeks. When you get that message? Let me tell you: Listen to it. Three nights later of skull-crushing headaches later due to an apparent sinus infection (I won’t go into detail because ew, gross) and a week of miserable allergy symptoms meant that I got about this much done this week:

slimandnun

Say hi to Slim and Nun.

 

I seem to recall getting this birthday card at some point in my life. Also, I never pass up a chance at a pun. Anyway, moving on!

A little while ago I was interviewed by Ghanian writer and blogger Geosi Gyasi for his website Geosi Reads. Check it out! He’s also interviewed a couple authors you may already have heard of if you hang around me long enough: the delightful Ruth Daniell and the equally delightful Ngwatilo Mawiyoo. He’s also looking for other writers who’d be interested in talking to him for the site, so you know, get on that.

Right! I’ll have more news and stuff to share later this week, and I’m planning for something big starting next weekend, which I’ll tell you all about, but not now, because as River Song would say:

I bloody love Alex Kingston

A sale at Untreed Reads for Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! This is the day where you’re supposed to give more of a damn about the planet and the environment, because we’ll miss them when they’re gone. I feel the same way about my knees.

But anyway! Untreed Reads (which has published three of my short stories over the years) is having a 50% off sale for the occasion. They’re a digital-first publisher, so saving trees has been important to them from the get go. How does a story about a homemaker dealing with her transformation into a vampire relate to the theme of environmental awareness? I’ll leave that for brighter minds than my own to figure out. Meanwhile, though, check out my stories, as well as all the other titles, including stories by my friends Jeff Howe, Trey Dowell, Sandy Murphy and others.

Straightening Up

Maternal Instincts

New Normal

The current soundtrack to my novel in progress

As careful readers might have noticed in the past, I like to make playlists for my works in progress even though I am constitutionally incapable of listening to music while I write. I’ve tried, but it turns out I’m one of those people who needs either white noise or near total silence to write. I can work in a crowded public place as long as I can’t single out any one voice or conversation. If I can, then I might as well pack up and go. Or play Candy Crush Saga, because that’s about as productive as I’ll be.

But anyway! I’m working, slowly but surely, on the sequel to The Unwanted, and when I’m not writing, these are the songs that I find myself listening to:

The Flesh Trap Mix, as of 20 April 2015

The Flesh Trap Mix, as of 20 April 2015

Recognize anything? Relatively speaking, nothing in the mix is particularly new (not that I am either, mind you). Some of them are going on thirty years old (I’m looking at you, “Watching You without Me”). Hopefully you won’t judge me—or prejudge the book—too harshly based on what’s here. (I make no apologies for that Katy Perry song, as I had no street cred to begin with. I could have put a Geri Halliwell song in here, but I’m saving that for book three.)

What about you? What do you listen to when you write, anything? Nothing? The cries of your vanquished oppressors?

#Protip: Listen to Your @$&#! Editor

I’m gonna get a little soapbox-y here. So all that froth you see is not me foaming at the mouth. Read on without fear of contacting rabies….

I was reading something on social media (I forget where, but it was probably while I was supposed to be doing something else, like oh, I don’t know, actually writing) and it came around to a topic that I’m sure is of burning interest to all of you out there: whether you put one or two spaces after a period when you’re typing on a computer.

Now, fans of typography know that in the modern era, you only need to put one space after a period. Because fonts on a computer are by and large proportionally spaced. This means that a thin letter like lowercase i takes up much less space than a wider letter like an uppercase W.

Ah, but it used to not be like that, kids. If you’ve ever been on an archeological dig (or gone into, say, an antique store or your parents’ attic), you may have unearthed an artifact known as a typewriter. Typewriters were the equivalent of Microsoft Word in ancient times. You used them to write things like letters (similar to email but they were on paper and you had to put them in an envelope and use these things called postage stamps to send them to someone through a thing called the mail; so in case you ever wondered where the word “email” came from, that’s where), or you wrote your school papers on them. Now, a typewriter used the same amount of space to type an i as it did to type a W, or a period. So, at the end of a sentence, you’d type two spaces to make it clear that hey, sentence over, moving on.

Some people who, like me, are old enough to remember when you used a typewriter (we call people like that “fossils,” and us fossils should be handled with care) persist in putting two spaces at the end of a sentence. Which brings me back to the social media post I was talking about, where writers were weighing in on the one space or two space rule, and basically, the two-spacers were really vehement about it. “Your can’t make me stop typing two spaces! If we all type one space after a period then THE TERRORISTS WIN! Fascists! Blasphemers! BURN THEM WITH FIRE!”

Okay, so I’m totally exaggerating, but only for effect.

I pointed out “you know, if you type two spaces, as an editor I’m just going to have to take them out, so you’re making more work for your editor.” As you might expect, people weren’t having it. I quietly bowed out of the conversation before people started lobbing flaming bags of poo.

(Please note, no poo was flung.)

Here’s the thing though. Sometimes I wear an editor’s hat (usually in my day job, where more often than not I’m an editor and proofreader) and other times I’ve got my writing cap on. (I like hats, what can I say?) when I’m in writing mode, or more precisely, when I’m being edited, I try to pay close attention to what my editor tells me to do as far as formatting and preparing my manuscripts. And I especially do this when I’m submitting to a literary magazine; I follow their guidelines to the letter because I don’t want to be that guy who gets rejected without even being read because I used single line spacing instead of double or used Comic Sans instead of Times New Roman.

Just kidding. I would never use Comic Sans.

But anyway, my point (and I do have one) is this: listen to your editor. They will save your skin more often than you can possibly realize. They will catch inconsistencies that went right by you, they will notice when your point of view has shifted, and they will sure as hell see when you used it’s when you should have used its.

And if they want me to use one space after a period instead of two, even if it seems silly to me, I’m going to bloody well do it.