Sunday, February 26, 2006

Gaspereau Press

I was terribly impressed by Andrew Steeves who came to talk to our University Women's club members about Gaspereau Press. I knew about this local publishing house of course, that is I knew it existed but I didn't know "what it was about" if you know what I mean. I didn't know that the owners/publishers have a real passion for the book as an art object and a penchant for collecting old printing equipment and that they were so ideologically tied to the "art and craft" aspect of book- making, and committed to the idea of a community of writers, publishers, printers etc.

Andrew had a great presentation with a visuals of book making through the ages ( which sounds kind of boring but which wasn't at all) ending with how Gaspereau Press fit into the great publishing tradition. Our writing circle members have decided that a tour of the premises is a must for our group.

Train station-writing station

My writing circle meets here on Tuesday. The topic we were to be inspired by was "travel" or "a trip". I have not been inspired. Not by our trip away, not by the contrasting pictures I posted, not by Ami's success ( I really hoped that would get me going) not by my reading, not by anything.

Sitting down to write this I saw the train station photo I posted and I thought ... there is no train at the station. The train station ( ironically full of books!) with the empty tracks is a good metaphor for my writing. My writing station has been vacant. I have not been there, sitting down every day and writing as I did when I had the 50,000 words to do. Then I wrote - what was it?- something like 1700 words a day, every day for 30 days so surely if I sat down an hour or two every day something would come out. And I am sitting now and this idea of the train station just appeared. Maybe if I sit a bit longer something I can use will happen in that magical but unreliable and difficult way that it sometimes does. But if not, what to do. If not then I think I will have to pull out that 50,000 words and go through it to find a segment worth reading. Perhaps the part about Scotland. That involved a trip on the part of my protaganist....hmmm.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Win a library

From Random House! A contest open to Canadian residents only sadly, with the prize one of two libraries of books published in the last ten years, about 30 books. HatTip Ami MacKay

The Birth House Launch

I attended the launch of The Birth House by Ami MacKay at the Acadia cinema theatre the other night. It was a sold-out crowd; I was lucky to get a ticket. Lots of women, several with their babies. I bought two books; one for myself and one for a friend, Junie, who unfortunately couldn't come with me. I was impressed with the visual display Ami had projecting on the screen behind the podium with photos from the era relating to midwifery and the period she was writing about. After being introduced Ami came out glowing pride of course but still the Ami I knew from our writing class. She phoned her mother- who was ill and couldn't attend- using her cell phone when she first came out on stage, and we all said "HI" to her. Nice, different, relaxed. She read several excerpts from the book.

Then afterwards, naturally, she signed copies. There was an older lady ahead of me who said she had been born in "that house" the "birth house". I guess there were quite a few people from the community who had a connection with the house. When it was my turn and I offered my two books for her to autogrpah, Ami remembered me and Junie and asked me what I was up to so I told her I had done Nanowrimo which she applauded. And she asked if our group was still meeting and was happy to hear we were. And she remembered also her promise to come talk to my other writing circle.

It was nice and a bit inspiring. I must take a look at my Nanowrimo manuscript one of these days.

Sea Glass

Our circle met today and talked about Anita Shreve's Sea Glass. Most thought it not a bad book, perhaps emphasizing story over characterization. A notch above a Danielle Steele.

Points raised: the sea glass- symbol of beauty to be found in the unexpected, treasure from trash, symbolic of survival and even transformation in hardship, lives tossed and turned in the sands of time. One of our members brought some sea glass which she placed in a white dish. She had also done a watercolour of bits of sea glass! Wonderful.

Writing style. Most agreed that the different chapters given to each character's voice was a bit choppy and distracting at first but as the characters linked up and the story came together more as a unity this was not minded so much. I thought, as a writer, this was a relatively easy technique to pull off. It would be harder to put in the good narration to bring out the characters motivations and thinking.

Who was the most realistic character? Some thought Vivian ( as I did) , others disagreed absolutely and thought she was the least realistic. The mother, though her voice was small, was universally thought authentic. Honora- some thought her personality was a bit enigmatic , others thought that her character came through clearly from her actions and decisions in the story. Loyal, resourceful, hard working, well liked, compassionate, a woman of her time. McDermott and Alphonse, well portrayed but Sexton was less fleshed out; there was less back story on him.

The time period: Most thought the author did a good job of her research although some thought the mention of the Halifax explosion and some details were a bit forced, didn't seem natural or intrinsic to the story. All thought the details such as recipes and household tips from Honora's mother were dead on. Were the details of labour unrest in New England mills authentic? Probably.

The House: I tried to bring up the role of the house which inspired Anita Shreve's three books- The Pilot's Wife, Fortune's Rocks and Sea Glass but members didn't seem much interested in this. It was of great interest to me, my friend Ami having just written her first novel The Birth House inspired by the house she lived in which had been the house of a midwife in the community.

Next book- Adultery by Richard B. Wright

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Train Station Library

An allsorts reader JAR has a photo on her blog Daffodil Field of her library in a train station. Compare it to these shots of the Train Station Library in myTown.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Contrasting photos

I never think to post photos. This is a writing and reading journal after all but I couldn't resist this contrast. The photo left is a scene taken in our back yard earlier this winter and is more or less what we left. The photo below right is of one of the Curacao beaches we visited lately. Ah, well it was nice while it lasted and it may inspire great writing?

Tsk, tsk

I have neglected this blog. For shame. I have been away again. Yes, mentally still but this time also physically. We went to visit some friends in Curacao where we used to live for a while and although it was very nice we are glad to be home. The trip down was hellish as we left in a snowstorm Or rather we didn't at first leave in the snow storm and then did leave late in the same storm after missing all our connections. So we had to overnight in Miami and lost a day. Other than that... We did get back before the latest big storm which, had we been going through New York a day later, would have tied us up again so we must be thankful for small mercies.

I took 3 or 4 books with me and didn't crack open one of them. On the flight ( flights rather -six in all) and in the airports I did Sudokus. What can I tell you: they are better than reading for taking your mind off of those bothersome things of flying like waiting and turbulence and being tinned like sardines and waiting. And when we got to where we were going- my we were way too busy to read.

So... I have NOT read our next book club book which is Anita Shreves' Sea Glass. And we meet next week. Ah well, it won't be the first time I have read a book within a few days. It would help perhaps if I had the book in hand at least and I tried to solve this today when I went into our local independent bookstore. No luck. They didn't have it so instead I will borrow it from a friend who has been paying more attention to her reading duties.

But of course I have been reading ( not just sudokuing) . I just finished ( since we got back) Lynne Truss's With One Lousy Packet of Seed, which I had started before I left. Lousy title but great fun. I love her sense of humour, British natch. It is in The Lynne Truss Treasury which contains 2 other comic novels and some of her columns.

Okay that's it for tonight. I hope to be a more faithful poster ...

Oh, I should mention that tomorrrow I am going to a book launch of an acquaintance of mine who has just had her book published. I was in a writing class with her a few years ( 3?) ago; she was starting the book then and read us a few excerpts from it in class. Nice to see she has " made it". The book is called The Birth House and is inspired by the house where she lives which used to be the home of the local midwife.
Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well (1937)