Looking for news on the anthology?

I’ve been reading submissions madly and am pretty close to the final selection of stories for inclusion in the anthology, to be called: Everything is so political: a collection of short stories by Canadian writers (or something along those lines…). If you’ve submitted a story you can expect to hear from me within 2 weeks (at the most). Thank you for the stories! All best, Sandra

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Call for Submissions

In the works: an anthology of short political fiction

Editor Sandra McIntyre with Roseway Publishing (Nova Scotia & Manitoba) is seeking short story submissions for an upcoming anthology of political fiction. “Political” is open to interpretation—stories can be about politics, whether overtly or obliquely, or political by virtue of their stance, voice, point of view, or underpinnings.

Stories should be 4000 words maximum. There is no minimum length. Short graphic fiction is welcome. Simultaneous submissions are okay. Multiple submissions are okay. Submissions of previously published stories are okay. Canadian authors only.

Payment: $100 for “anthology rights” (print and electronic rights).

The deadline for submissions is: June 1, 2012.

Send stories by email to sandra@sandralit.com

Send stories by mail to:
Sandra McIntyre
c/o Roseway Publishing
32 Oceanvista Lane Black Point, NS B0J 1B0

To receive confirmation that your story has been received, please include an email address or a SASE with your submission.

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Calgary Public Library’s Writers’ Weekend

Don’t miss the CPL’s Writers’ Weekend, happening soon at the Central branch:
Saturday, February 4, 2012. I’ll be part of the “publishing and editing” panel from 12pm to 1pm. Hope to see you there!
For details, go to: http://calgarypubliclibrary.com/blogs/writers-nook?p=1815

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Breakfast Television 03-January-2012

I appeared on Calgary’s Breakfast Television to discuss a few self help titles. Here are the books I chose:

- One minute mindfulness: 50 Simple Ways to Find Peace, Clarity and New Possibilities in a Stressed-out World, by Donald Altman
- Retirement Rocks: Lifestyle, Relationship, Finances, by Dennis Blas and Heather Compton
- I Think, I Am! Teaching Kids the Power of Affirmations, by Louise L. Hay and Kristina Tracy. Illustrated by Manuela Schwarz
- The Woman in the Mirror: How to Stop Confusing What You Look Like with Who You Are, by Cynthia M. Bulik, PH.D

I don’t actually read a lot of self-help books, so I thought it was going to be challenging to come up with 4 or 5 books I felt comfortable talking about. But it was easy! There are of course good books and good writers in all genres–sometimes you just have to be open to finding them. I chose one of the “one minute mindfulness” tags for myself today. It was “walk with dignity and grace.”

I found 3 of these 4 books at Calgary’s Self-Connection Books. If you’re looking for these or other self-help titles, this store is a great place to start.

Click here to watch the Breakfast Television segment.

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Breakfast Television 04-October-2011

I’ll be appearing on Calgary Breakfast Television in–eek! not that many hours from now–discussing some Fall book recommendations. Of course there are many, many kick-ass books out this fall. I was limited to four. How am I possibly going to talk about 4 books in under 5 minutes?
Here are my choices:
A Possible Madness by Frank Macdonald
The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott
The Leap: How to Survive and Thrive in the Sustainable Economy by Chris Turner
Darth Paper Strikes Back: An Origami Yoda Book by Tom Angleberger

Catch me if you can on CityTV around 8:00am. I’ll post my reviews here in the coming days.

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Unreadable: A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book

Not long ago (May 2011), my book club read–I should say, tried to read–A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book. No one in the group finished it. I think I got the farthest, to about page 100. I’m not out to get A.S. Byatt. At one point in my reading life, I considered myself a big fan. She was the very kind of writer I wanted to be: well read and knowledgeable about many fields of study, literary, feminist, serious, rich in ideas. Possession is great fun to read, accessible enough, kind of nerdy-cool–in a cashmere sweaters, suede elbow patches, dusty attics, research is sexy kind of way. While Byatt is certainly an intellectual sort of writer, in books like Angels and Insects she’s able to mash her magpie mind with a romantic, ornate sensibility. I read and loved Babel Tower, but have found her last three books, The Biographer’s Tale, A Whistling Woman and The Children’s Book, impossible to get into. Is it me, or the books? The Children’s Book was shortlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, so obviously someone likes it. But the book club just couldn’t find enough to compel us to continue reading. On the whole, the complaints were too many characters, a lack of interesting plots (we found Philip’s story interesting but too sporadic), and a failure to render compellingly the world she was imagining. For my part, I suspected she had a grand plan, was laying the foundation for some hefty themes, but couldn’t shake the feeling that she was doing all this at the expense of STORY. Has Byatt forgotten that story, and if not story, then character, is king?

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Banjo of Destiny by Cary Fagan: a review

Banjo of Destiny (2011), Cary Fagan

Toronto writer Cary Fagan is the author of a number of children’s books, including Jacob Two-Two and the High Seas (2009), the fourth book in the Jacob Two-Two series originated by Mordecai Richler. After reading Banjo of Destiny, I can see why the Richler family and publishers settled on Fagan to continue the illustrious series. There is something light and almost fable-like about his writing.

Banjo of Destiny is the story of rich kid Jeremiah Birnbaum, who has everything a kid could wish for and more. His life is changed irrevocably when he hears the “weirdly old and jumpily alive” music of the banjo one day. Wanting him to continue with his classical piano lessons (even though he’s terrible) and make them proud at the school talent show (even though he’s terrified of it), his parents forbid him to buy a banjo. Try as he might to follow his parents’ wishes, Jeremiah can’t shake the hold the banjo has on him. He ends up interpreting their edict rather literally, and sets about making an instrument of his own from odds and ends he finds and salvages. Learning to play is more difficult than he imagined, but it is really the design of the banjo and Jeremiah’s determination to construct one that fuels the action of the book. This is an original idea, well written and perfectly paced, with fun characters. The ‘point’ comes through in the simple story, not a big billboard of a message at the end. I’ll definitely look for more from Cary Fagan.

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The Wave by Susan Casey: a review

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean (2010), Susan Casey

Susan Casey’s The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean is about the phenomenon of giant waves–unpredictable one hundred footers that rise up out of the ocean, sometimes to the detriment of humans in their wake. Casey documents not only the best-known wave disasters at sea, such as the 2004 tsunami that killed 250 000 people in the Pacific, but also less documented ones, such as the 1740-foot wave that destroyed a part of the Alaskan coastline. Casey says, “I wanted to write about the most powerful force in nature through the eyes of the people who understood it the most.”

A talent for energetic, driven narrative coupled with an obvious passion for the subject make The Wave an easy to read non-fiction choice. Casey goes light on the science but does discuss what humans know about how and why these rogue waves occur, and the role climate change has to play in (our perception of) their increasing incidence. The most shocking thing? Scientists who study the ocean actually know very little about how the ocean works and what is happening out there day to day.

The best non fiction brings you to realize you are interested in a subject you didn’t know you were interested in. Casey gets in tight with the tow-surfers who seek out these waves and try to ride them. At times I felt a little lost in the surfing terminology and wished she had spent more time at the beginning of the book explaining some of the basics, like how tow-surfing actually works and defining some of the terms, but I suppose this would have tipped her hand: at its core this book is about extreme surfing culture–the lore, attitudes, lifestyle and, most of all, superstars. This is clearly where her research heart lies.

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One Day by David Nicholls: a review

One Day (2009), David Nicholls

I must admit I was stumped a little when Tara Slone started off the Summer Reads segment I did on Breakfast Television by referring to my first selection, One Day by David Nicholls, as a “guilty pleasure.” After a very Catholic upbringing, I try hard not to feel guilty. And while some pleasures would undoubtedly bring on a bout of guilt (I can think of a few involving Friday Night Lights’s Taylor Kitsch), reading could never be one of them. True reading pleasure–the kind that supersedes socializing, favourite tv shows, tiredness and jobs-to-do, drawing you to your best reading spot with everything you need for some serious, uninterrupted reading time–is not easily come by, so why feel guilty? If you’re enjoying a book, forget about guilt, forget about what other people think, forget about what you should be reading and enjoy it.

One Day may not be the most literary of novels or original of love stories but the dialogue is punchy and the book is both readable and serious. The occasional corny line or bit of dialogue is overshadowed by great sentences, insight and solid characterization. But it’s the frame through which Nicholls tells his story that sets One Day apart from the usual romantic-y stuff. Upon their graduation from Edinburgh University, Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew spend a memorable night and day together. This date–July 15–marks the beginning of their friendship, and it is on July 15 for the next twenty years that we visit Emma and Dexter–wherever they are in their lives. Some years they are, by accident, together on this date. Some years they are barely speaking. Through loneliness and love affairs, sucky jobs and big breaks, personal highs and lows, Emma and Dexter shed some of the naive, idealistic, egoistic notions they held as students and learn what it means to tackle problems in real life and make their way in the world.

For readers who usually gravitate toward literary books, One Day is a good step to the side. It’s not too fluffy, with just enough scope and literary play to keep a bookish mind happy, but definitely on the lighter side of the reading spectrum. For those who like their reading plot and character driven, One Day won’t frighten anybody off–its larger, sadder themes sneak up on the reader toward the end. While the reading mode is emotional rather than intellectual, the clever structure provides just enough narrative newness to keep meaning happening on more than one level.

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Breakfast Television 18-July-2011

Now that I’ve done my segment on Breakfast Television this morning (lots of fun!), I will be posting my reviews of the three books that I recommended:

One Day by David Nicholls (a pool side read)

In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey (non-fiction)

Banjo of Destiny by Cary Fagan (juvenile fiction ages 9 – 12)

These reviews will appear on this site shortly, with more (for BT and otherwise) following. I bought all of my copies at Pages, in Kensington, a good old fashioned bookstore with friendly and knowledgeable staff.

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