What strange days indeed.
Two thoughts to share:
1. I'd like to wish you all the best as you navigate the COVID-19 crisis, and I know you're doing your best to stay safe and healthy.
2. Everyone is or will be feeling the financial pinch from COVID-19, and writers are no different. If you haven't already done so, would you consider ordering one (or more, for self-isolation gifts) of my books? First, it supports me as a writer, but it also sends a message to publishers and booksellers that books are still good investments. (Pre-ordering BOY and NOTHING BUT LIFE, in particular, boosts all-important pre-release numbers, which helps sales after publication, too.)
Click on the links below to order.
BOY: a novel
NOTHING BUT LIFE: a novel
SAINTS, UNEXPECTED: a novel
Thanks for your support, and stay strong!
Two bits of news today:
1. As you can see, I have a cover for NOTHING BUT LIFE! This was another fantastic project by one of Dundurn Press's in-house designers, the excellent Sophie Paas-Lang (follow her on instagram and twitter).
2. Preorders are now live for NOTHING BUT LIFE: click on the buttons below.
Thanks, everyone! Your orders and support are much, much, much appreciated.
I'm so pleased (and stunned, in the best way) to share that Dundurn Press, who recently picked up my novel BOY (to be published April 11, 2020), will also be publishing NOTHING BUT LIFE, a YA novel, later in 2020!
Who's spinning? This guy.
Here's a little bit about NOTHING BUT LIFE: A NOVEL:
How quiet the bells of heaven must be, cold
with stars who cannot rhyme their brilliance
to our weapons. What rouses our lives each moment?
Nothing but life dares dying.
~ from "26," a poem by Rachel Eliza Griffiths (used with permission)
Dills and his mom have moved back to Hamilton, her hometown, looking to start again. He can’t talk about the day his stepdad Jesse came into the Wilkson Middle School library and opened fire. The memories are simply too raw. Plus, it’s hard to think about how many lives Jesse stole and the families he tore apart. Yet Dills doesn’t think he's a monster. Before Jesse became the Wilkson Shooter, he was just a Hero Stepdad, a haunted combat vet who loved his family as fiercely as he fought his demons.
And Dills still loves him.
Months after the move, Dills starts hearing Jesse telling him to come home. But Jesse tried to kill himself after the shooting and is wasting away in a Wilkson hospital bed, so Dills knows that the voice is probably just a product of his own bruised psyche. But what if it isn’t? What if Jesse is somehow reaching out to the only person who could possibly listen? Dills has go back. He owes it to Jesse. To himself. Even if there are no answers to be found.
Watch this space for more details.
Writing is a solitary sport, with days and weeks and months often spent toiling away in blissful, heartbreaking, and mostly unacknowledged solitude, often staring at blanks screens and pages.
But not this week. This week has been a corker.
1. I received news that my novel SAINTS, UNEXPECTED has been shortlisted for a Hamilton Arts Council Literary Award. Winners will be announced on Nov. 27, so fingers crossed.
2. My essay "You'll See the Sky" was given an honourable mention for a 2017 Short Works Prize.
3. My short story "Drift, maybe fall" has won subTerrain's 2017 Lush Triumphant Literary Award (best prize name ever!), which nets me a nice cash prize and publication in one of Canada's coolest magazines.
4. I received my contributor copies of the sublime 2017 Short Story Advent Calendar (which is still available for yourself or the story-lover in your life—order by Nov. 15 to ensure delivery by Dec. 1!), got paid for two stories, have been asked to present an award, and am participating in a 6-Minute Memoir event.
It's amazing to have some recognition and a little extra cash to throw at the mortgage, but more importantly, this week I get to call myself a working writer, for which I'm humbled and grateful.
Thanks for the support, everyone.
I'm excited to share the cover design for Saints, Unexpected, which will be released on April 15 from Invisible Publishing!
Thanks to Megan Fildes for the stunning design.
(Don't forget: Saints, Unexpected is available for preorder from the Invisible Publishing website.)
I'm really excited to be working again with The New Quarterly, one of Canada's best litmags.
This time, in my creative nonfiction piece entitled "You'll See the Sky," I explore the lasting impact of a horrific tree-planting accident I was involved in more than twenty years ago that resulted in a broken back, popped sternum, fractured skull, and uncounted stitches. But even more notably, how that experience has continued to echo in my life, as a newlywed on a long road-trip, as a new father weighing what could have been against the pink, bright newness of a baby girl, and as a person of faith in what some call a faithless world.
For the record, I'm not buying that our world has less faith: we're all searching for some greater meaning, a narrative we can attach to the big "why" of our existence. Even when we say--and how loudly and piously it can get said--that we don't believe anything.
So check out TNQ's Issue 137 and test yourself on the sacred, profane, and faith-filled. I'm excited to dig in, and feel privileged to have my work appear alongside another TNQ who's-who of literary craft.
"Declination," my short story published in 2015 by The Prairie Journal, has been nominated by the journal for the 2016 Writers' Trust / McClellan & Stewart Journey Prize.
The Journey Prize is Canada's most prestigious award for a single piece of short fiction, so this is a significant recognition—the winner gets riches, fame, and glory, of course, but what an honour to have my story nominated! Shortlisted stories (which will be published in the M&S anthology, will be decided in May, and the winner announced in the fall of 2016.
I washed my hands before opening the thick, rigid, courier-style envelope and sliding out the paper inside. Fingerprints? Smudges? No way.
Pulled the tab, the plastic strip cutting through the cardboard end to end. Held the paper in my hand for a long moment, read the words, felt the weight of the expensive bond. Snapped a photo.
Boom. It be official, I posted online.
Finished my MFA coursework in July, slightly less than two years after I began. Creative Writing at UBC is a competitive, prestigious program, difficult to get in. Took me three tries. Then 36 credits of reading, workshopping, personality differences, lessons in diplomacy, the sublime experience of absorbing work better than my own. A degree conferred in September, permitting me to add Holds an MFA to my CV and website bio.
But I’d been waiting for the actual diploma, that incredibly expensive piece of paper, signed and sealed, to arrive. A flattened bit of pulped wood that signals to the world that I’ve become more than I was. Eligible to teach writing at college or university. Membership in a new kind of tribe. Hitting the literary world with a new gleam in my eye.
The confidence to say, most importantly, that I’m a better writer now.
The biggest payoff.
I'm so pleased that The Short Story, a UK site dedicated to the craft and promotion of brief fiction, approached me with a few questions about my writing successes and process.
Click here for the interview.