Friday, November 28, 2008

Bernadette gets some attention in the online Quill and Quire

Industry news

Girls get Gutsy in new series from Second Story

November 28, 2008 | 5:50 PM | By Danielle Ng-See-Quan

There’s American Girl, there’s Gossip Girl, and now Second Story Press is introducing Gutsy Girl, a YA fiction series inspired by author Susan Glickman’s fall 2008 title Bernadette and the Lunch Bunch.

“They’re stories about girls who confront the world in wonderful and energetic and brave ways,” says Second Story president and publisher Margie Wolfe. “The idea is to inspire the readers to show that the world is truly open to them, and all they have to do is work for it.”

Though Bernadette and the Lunch Bunch was conceived and published as a standalone novel, Wolfe felt there was more there to capitalize on. The series won’t always feature the same characters, says Wolfe, but some may recur, and several different authors have been lined up to pen the books.

The first Gutsy Girl selection, which will be published next spring, is Home Free by Sharon Jennings, a story set in 1960s small-town Ontario about a girl named Lee who is “a bit of a loner and has a huge passion for Anne of Green Gables and loves the whole notion of being an orphan,” says Wolfe. When Cassandra – an actual orphan who has just been adopted – moves in across the street, Lee learns that the reality is a lot different from the fantasy.

The Gutsy Girl idea follows in the vein of Second Story’s Kids’ Power series, which was launched in fall 2007 and focuses on youth activism. Wolfe says the Kids’ Power series has been well received abroad, with international publishers purchasing several installments of the series at once, instead of just individual titles. Wolfe says the international marketplace is where one tends to find an audience for this type of series. “What we found with publishers when we told them about this Gutsy Girl series – everyone got a big smile on their faces,” says Wolfe. “They knew there wasn’t going to be another series out there [like it].”

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Ethics of Governor General's Awards Juries

An unfortunate situation vis a vis the current GG poetry prize has led to some serious discussion -- not for the first time, by any means -- of the jury system, which clearly needs an overhaul. See the following thread from the great blog Bookninja:

Just for the record, my last eligible poetry book wasn't even SUBMITTED by my publisher, so couldn't be considered for the prize by any jury, impartial or not. SO some of us have worse obstacles than juries to overcome.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Link to mp3 file

Queen's University Events - Audio - Common Magic - 2008 - Lyric Poetry - Susan Glickman, Jan Conn and Marie di Michele - Recorded on March 8, 2008 by CFRC 101.9 FM.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Read about my purse!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Books filed by colour

I'm stealing this image from Shawna Lemay's wonderful blog Capacious Holdall, because it's just so damn pretty. Now have a look at her blog!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


from my brother-in-law Gordon, who is a constant source of weird Internet stuff.

Answers to student questions about being a writer

At what point in your life did you decide to be a writer?

I always find this question impossible to answer, because it’s not as straightforward as it sounds! If you decide to become a veterinarian or a plumber or an astronaut or a fireman, you need to undergo a specialized post-secondary training and become certified to practice your trade. That’s not the way it works with writing. Everybody writes in school; those who “decide” to become writers, like me, are those who love it so much they never stop.

What this means is that you are not deciding to start doing something you’ve never done before, but to keep on doing something everybody else gives up; to get really good at something most people do poorly. To that extent, you are like an athlete or a musician, because the only way to get good is to practice, endlessly. Although there are lots of writing programs around, some even granting degrees, no one can actually teach you to write. They can only teach you how to revise and edit what you’ve already written. You still have to produce something from nothing on your own.

Also, writing is not really a profession in the ordinary sense: most writers have to earn money another way and keep working at their writing until they get published, and then keep publishing until they get lucky enough to make money, and even then, most writers still have to hold down another job to pay the bills. So “deciding to become a writer” doesn’t mean that you will earn a living at it; it means that you have made an internal commitment to the craft and will organize your life so that you always have time for it. And recognizing that you may have to give up other things in order to put the writing first.

What motivated you in that direction, and what are some experiences you had that eventually led you to this point?

I worked in publishing for a couple of years and then as a university professor for many more years and found myself obsessively editing everybody else’s work, and yearning for more time to work on my own stuff. I was never very interested in the business side of publishing, or the administrative side of academia; nor was I interested in literary theory for its own sake as so many of my colleagues were. I always wanted to take stories or plays or poems apart and see how they were made.

What do you enjoy about being a writer; what are the perks?

I love writing for two reasons. First and foremost I love making things with words; I love entering that state of intense mental excitement and working towards the best way of saying something. And secondly, writing is how I learn about the world. I find out what I know about things by writing about them, and writing forces me to learn new things all the time.

What do you dislike or wish to change about your occupation?

It can be lonely; you work in solitude all the time and rarely have people to share your work with. It can be frustrating: you send work out to be published and then wait for months and months for a response. It is very poorly paid. The tax laws are not geared towards writers, who may earn virtually nothing for several years and then get paid all at once, at which point they are taxed heavily. And being self-employed, writers have a hard time getting health and disability insurance, and therefore are doubly vulnerable financially.

Another problem is that other people think you are not really working because you’re at home, and they can’t see visible evidence of effort, so they don’t respect your time.

Do you find yourself writing more about personal experiences, or about imagined scenarios? Why?

In my poetry, I draw a lot on personal experiences, though I always see myself as an individual example of events that are universal. That is, I use my life as a repository of people, places, and things that I know about, through which I can explore subjects that interest me. So the “I” of my lyric poems is never straightforwardly me, myself, but the voice of that particular poem, which might or might not borrow something from Susan Glickman’s actual life.

In my fiction there are invented characters, so I have a lot more freedom to imagine experiences I haven’t actually had. Still, I have to draw on my own understanding of the world to be able to make convincing characters so to that extent I am limited by my own “self”, even when I don’t speak as myself.

What is the message you hope to put across to the general public through your writing?

No message; never any message!! Why? Because any message that literature could put across would be so vague and general as to be useless. War is Hell; Life is complicated ; Love one another or die: what use are messages like that?

Contrary to what most high school English teachers tell you, how literature works is not by sending out messages. Literature gives us the space and time to imaginatively inhabit another person’s life and empathize with his or her situation. In daily life we never get to enter anybody’s mind but our own, but literature gives us the opportunity to be lots of other people. This is really the moral dimension to literature: that it insists that we transcend our egos and be empathetic.

As Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote in “A Defense of Poetry, "A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own."

When you write something you are creating a world for the reader to enter, building scenes for that reader to experience. Each individual work may grapple with certain themes that become a moral focus for the characters and therefore for readers as well, but this is not the same as being didactic and having a “message”.

National Novel Writing Month

There's a huge group of people trying to write a 50,000 word novel in November. Here's the link:

My mind just won't go there...