Word on the Street Halifax

I am so excited that I’ll be off to Halifax this weekend to take part in the Word on the Street Book and Magazine Festival in Halifax. I’ll be flying in on Saturday and then taking part in the festival on Sunday. I’ll be on the Nova Scotia Main Stage at 12:30 on Sunday, September 26th and am thrilled to be sharing the stage with Russell Wangersky and Darren Hynes. Of course, you know me, I’m already nervous too but strangely a panel situation makes me feel a little less nervous than just straight standing up and reading. I’ll be terrified on Sunday, I know, but once it gets going, I’ll be fine. I know Russell and just his being there will probably make me feel more relaxed (one can only hope). Plus, my husband is going with me too and he’s the best in the world at calming me down when I’m nervous. So, if you’re in the Halifax area, come on by and say hi. I’ll be signing copies of A Few Kinds of Wrong (and this much is true, I assume) after the event as well.

The Current’s Best Books of 2009


So, this past Friday evening, we’re sitting down for supper when a knock comes to the door. Vince answers it and our next-door neighbour, Jason thrusts a paper in my husband’s hand and says “here it is and here’s a laminated copy”. Vince must have had a blank look on his face so Jason said, “she doesn’t know about this yet?” and Vince said, “no.” And then “all right, see ya” and Jason was gone. I leafed through the paper as Vince opened the rolled up laminated page and we both saw the list of Current’s Six-pack of the best books of 2009. And A Few Kinds of Wrong was there. And this pleased me very much. Thank you Gina Gill and Current.

Tis the season for celebration… and reviews?

Well, while Christmas was a busy time for me, it was also a busy time for my book with a couple of reviews coming out for A Few Kinds of Wrong in the week before Christmas. Both were great reviews and lovely presents. You can check out some quotes from them on my reviews page.

Of course, Christmas was about family and presents and remembering how grateful we are for all we have. Santa was super-busy with not one but two visits–one to Nanny and Poppy’s house in Aspen Cove and one to Nanny and Poppy’s house in Ladle Cove and was even kind enough to drop by and leave a gift each for the boys in the small boxes Sam left under our tree in CBS. Needless to say, two Christmas mornings of presents from us and from Santa left us tired, “spent”, you might even say. I think I might do something different and review some of the presents in another post since everything I buy means a trip to the Internet first and checking on reviews others have posted. Maybe my opinions could help other people. The big hits, I’ll tell you now, were the night-vision goggles, Martian Matter, the Hexbug Nanos and habitat, and Elmo Live.

New Years Eve found us, as always at our friends, the Holletts, for supper, fireworks in the backyard, birthday cake to celebrate Pam’s birthday, and clinking of glasses at midnight. I couldn’t help thinking that ten years before we were celebrating the end of the millenium down at the waterfront and we didn’t even know the Holletts or what good friends they would become to us. Back then, if someone had told me that in ten years I would have quit my job at a detox centre to return to university and do IT, then worked at that university (Memorial University of Newfoundland) in IT, would be married, would have two children, would have two books published, would have won an award for writing, would have quit work to stay home with my kids, and that ten years from then, I would be truly happy, well, that’s a lot to take in and I, of course, would have laughed my ass off at your silly predictions. You never know, do you?

Happy new year everyone and may this new year bring you joy, laughter, and health. Don’t forget to celebrate the small moments along with the big ones.

Newfoundland Book Clubs

Last week, I visited a book club who had read A Few Kinds of Wrong and invited me to come by and talk with them about it. Although the host didn’t know me when she chose my book, one of the other members recognized me as our children go to the same school. So, she asked me if I would come and I said yes, thinking that it was a month away and maybe I wouldn’t be nervous by the time I got there. So when the night came, I was wondering what I had gotten myself into and, I have to say, I was quite nervous. I don’t like being the centre of attention or talking much about myself to people I don’t know. And I was afraid people might not like the book (doubt-filled as per last week’s post) and even though I knew they wouldn’t invite me to their book club to shred the book, I felt I would know if they didn’t like it. Luckily there wasn’t any such response (or they hid it very well) and  they seemed to really love the book. It was so interesting to sit down with people I don’t know and to listen to them talk about my book. They had really great insights and comments and questions that made us all think about the book and the characters. It made me realize how people could see something that I didn’t, or how something I tried  to do subtly in the book actually came across to people. Sometimes someone would ask a question and someone else would answer it because she remembered some minute detail or knew the characters well enough that she could answer it. I loved that. It was like the people in the book actually had their own lives and that’s how I feel about them, not that I created them but that I just wrote down the stuff that happened to them. I loved hearing how certain parts touched the readers and affected them. It turns out I was not the centre of attention at all. The book was, as well as the women in the group since the meeting was about their opinions and questions.

I’ve heard of so many book clubs in Newfoundland lately (and everywhere else but I tend to hear about the ones here) and it really makes me happy that we’re reading lots of books and then talking about them. And I think most of them, as with the one I attended last week, have people taking turns choosing the books so you might end up reading something you wouldn’t have thought of reading yourself, thereby expanding your reading horizons. If you’re in a book club and are interested in reading A Few Kinds of Wrong, check out the suggested book club questions included on the A Few Kinds of Wrong page (best for after you read the book as there are a couple of spoilers), and feel free to contact me. If you’re not in a book club, but love to read, consider joining one or creating your own. The reasons to join a book club, I heard the other night, were things like to have adult company and conversation, and to motivate you to read a book when it’s so hard to find time to do so. I’m glad Newfoundland and Labrador seems to have a burgeoning book club scene. The more people who are reading and discussing books, the better, I say, especially if they include local books in the mix.

Belletrista’s New and Notable Section

Belletrista is a not-for-profit, bimonthly web magazine which seeks both to encourage cross-cultural understanding through international literature written by women and to increase the visibility of that literature.” In each issue, they highlight new and notable books after sifting through hundreds of pages of publisher catalogs from all over the world. And in this issue, in the New and Notable section for Canada and the US, you can find A Few Kinds of Wrong, along with books like The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, Good to A Fault by Marina Endicott, and Mavis Gallant’s The Cost of Living.

Should I Have Made Jennifer Collins a Vampire?

You know when someone calculates the Vampire National Product of a nation (and finds it to be $771.5 million annually), that there’s a bit of a frenzy going on. And there is. It’s all about the new sequel to the movie New Moon, based on the second novel from the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer.  It’s hoped that it will bring in $100 million on this, its opening weekend. I know people who don’t live anywhere near a movie theatre who will drive for hours today to use the tickets they bought last month to see the movie. There’s a whole lexicon to describe, not just Twilight and Twilight related things but the various levels of Twilight fans–from twilighter (a moderate fan) to twi-hard (a more obsessive fan) to twitard (someone really, really out there in obsessive fan love for Twilight), and right back to the people who don’t like Twilight and are called antis. (And if this alleged list of attacks on antis by Twilight fans is true, you might not want to be so vocal about not liking the series.)

Bella Edward and Jacob from New Moon

And I don’t mind telling you I’m a teensy bit jealous. I really mean a teensy bit because I know the nature of this beast and that even if I could write a vampire book and do it justice, and hit all the right notes that Stephenie Meyer seems to have done with the Twilight series, chances are my vampire book would not create this kind of frenzy. This is an anomaly in the book world, just like when JK Rowling was told she would never make any money writing books for children then released the Harry Potter series, or when Dan Brown published his fourth book about a Da Vinci Code after publishing three novels which didn’t sell more than 10,000 copies each in their first runs. It’s lik e winning the lottery only much better because you made the money by doing something you love. So, the title of this post is facetious but I can’t help being a litle jealous and wondering what would have happened if Jennifer Collins, the main character in A Few Kinds of Wrong maybe drank blood instead of coffee, or could do a few magic spells on the side, or dropped her wrench, left the garage, and ran off to Rome to figure out a Vatican mystery. Hmmm, maybe I should start thinking about a sequel. A Few Kinds of Blood? A Few Kind of Magic? I’ll keep working on it.

Contest: A Few Kinds of Wrong is Looking for A Few Kinds of Women’s Work

womenatwork_smOf all the things that are wrong in Jennifer Collins’ life, one thing is absolutely right, she loves her job.

In my new novel, A Few Kinds of Wrong, Jennifer is a mechanic. It’s something that makes her stand out, because, unfortunately, female mechanics are pretty rare. Although the book isn’t trying to make any political statements, and Jennifer’s job is not the main focus of the novel, by making Jennifer a mechanic I’ve called some attention to how unusual it is to find women in some fields and gotten some responses back from both women and men who appreciate seeing a book about a woman in a non-traditional job.

That made me think that I’d like to use the book, and Jennifer’s occupation, to bring some more attention to how women’s work should be more about the jobs that women choose than just about the jobs that are traditionally defined as female.

So, I’m having a contest to celebrate women in non-traditional work and I want to hear from you!

Tell us about a woman in a non-traditional job. Could be you’re an engineer, your nan was a factory-worker in the war, your mom is a fisher-person, your wife is a mechanic, your friend is a truck-driver, any example of women working in work that is usually male dominated. Doesn’t have to be about you, nor does it have to be long (but I sure would like them longer than shorter).

FYI, the US Department of Labor, says that “A nontraditional occupation for women is one in which women comprise 25 percent or less of total employment” and they have a pretty extensive list of such occupations. http://www.dol.gov/wb/factsheets/nontra2008.htm (but you’re not restricted to the jobs on this list, if you want to tell of a woman who is in a field that you think is “male-dominated”, that’s enough for me).

Submitting your story is easy. Just add your comment to this post or, if you’d prefer, you can email your story to afewkindsofwrong@gmail.com and I will post it here on the blog. Feel free to send photos or submit your story via a youtube video. (Please note that comments are moderated so, unless you’ve posted before on this blog, you won’t see your comment right away. ) Each story will receive an entry into the contest.

Your email address will not be posted and will not be used except in the case you’re a winner and I need to contact you to get your address. But your story/video/photo will be posted on this blog.

There will be three separate prizes, each being two autographed books–one of A Few Kinds of Wrong and also my first novel, this much is true. The contest ends at midnight on November 25th (extended to midnight on November 30th) and is open to anyone, anywhere.

I’m hoping the extra prize will be hearing more about women doing a few kinds of work and showing examples of women redefining the phrase “a woman’s work”.

Why the title A Few Kinds of Wrong?

So, why did I choose the title A Few Kinds of Wrong for my second novel? Well, I got the idea from Gwyneth Paltrow. I watched her in an interview on the talk show, The View, and she was talking about a relationship she’d once had. She said there were a few kinds of wrong in that relationship. The line hit me and hit me hard. I just thought it said so much and so little at the same time. It stuck with me. Sometimes, when I hear something like that, which really impacts me in some way, I’ll write it down for fear that I’ll forget it. And there are sometimes, rare times, when I don’t even bother to write it down because I know I won’t forget it. It’s seared in my brain and so it was with “a few kinds of wrong”.

It was some time later that I was looking for a title for the book I was writing. I knew enough to know the main ideas of the book but really none of the details. That’s how I work. Wouldn’t be able to outline because that would take the fun out of finding out what happens along the way. Anyway, I did know that this character, a mechanic named Jennifer Collins, had been very close to her dad. Her dad had died suddenly and her marriage had subsequently ended. I knew the novel would take place some time after the father had died and that Jennifer was still not dealing with it well, or at all. I knew that she had misinterpreted a lot of things and that she didn’t like how other people were somehow moving on with their lives while she couldn’t or wouldn’t. How all that happened or what all those misinterpretations were about, I had no idea. So, I knew that, just like when Gwyneth Paltrow had said it, there were a few kinds of wrong in Jennifer’s life and that while it said so much, it also said so little since I didn’t know all the specifics of Jennifer’s problems yet myself. And then boom, like in most writing, the line just popped back into my head as the perfect fit. At least the perfect fit for where the book was then. It was always a working title but by the time I finished the book and a couple of people had read it, everyone thought it seemed a fitting one still and so it stuck.

So, in a nutshell, I guess Gwyneth Paltrow and The View gave me my title and though I’m not sure I’ll ever get a chance to thank them, I sure do appreciate it.

A Few Kinds of Right

A Few Kinds of Wrong is hitting various stores as we speak and I fondled it for the first time yesterday. A few people have said to me that holding a book you wrote is like having a new baby. Well, not really. I mean you’re proud and excited and all but it’s a bit more like sending off a child to Kindergarten. You spend all that time developing something, obsess about it, do everything you can to make it the best it can be and then you let it go, out there in the world to have a life of its own, to be judged–fairly or not, criticized, praised, cared for, and once it’s gone out there, you have very little control over how it’s perceived. You’ve done everything you can and now you have to let it go. But that’s where the similarities end. No matter what, my book will be forgotten in a few months, but my kids (please God) will be out there for a very, very long time. They will affect the world in small or great ways, in ways no book ever will. If someone says bad things about them, I won’t have to dry the hurt eyes of my books (my own hurt eyes, yes, but not of my books). And I know for certain that I will never stand at my bookcase with proud tears flowing as I look at my books, the way I sometimes do as I watch my kids when they sleep. Having said all that, it was pretty sweet to hold that book yesterday and know that Jennifer and all the gang are going out there in the world, that they’ve stepped out of my brain and onto the pages of a book.  I’ll tell you there’s a few kinds of right in that.