Two pieces of great news to share:
First, "Cut Road," a short story that appeared in Riddle Fence 24, has been recommended by the journal for the Writers' Trust / McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize! the JP is Canada's premier short fiction prize, awarded annually for one piece of published short fiction, with a nice purse and wonderful opportunities for its winner.
Second, my short story "Those Days Just a Glimmer" has been picked up by The Fiddlehead, and will appear in the Summer 2017 issue. Props go out to Michael Winter and my 2014-15 UBC fiction class peeps, who workshopped the story in class.
Devin Scullion, a 20-year-old Hamilton man who had the ultra-rare genetic disorder progeria, has died. My research into progeria for Saints, Unexpected frequently brought David's story across my desk, and indeed he was loosely the inspiration for Wu, a character in the novel who has the disorder. The Hamilton connection is a strong one, too, as Devin was one of only 200 people worldwide who suffered from the disorder, attracting worldwide interest from geneticists and physicians who traveled to Hamilton to learn more about him and his case.
RIP, Devin—I hope some of your abundant light will live on in the pages of my work.
Link to the Hamilton Spectator article about Devin's passing.
I posted the note below to Facebook last night, and just before performing the great log out (but not off) from all my devices, I thought I'd share it here, too. I'd like to add how blessed I feel to have such an amazing writing and reading community, and how grateful I am to all of you for helping make 2016 such an amazing lit-year for me. Thank you.
Dear online family,
2016 was an remarkable year of contrasts.
The highs: continuing to enjoy the love of the best partner a guy could imagine; watching my daughters grow and thrive; basking in the support of loved ones as I published stories and launched a debut novel; and continuing to bear witness to an evolving narrative greater and bigger than all of us.
I’ve been blessed. I am loved. And I have faith.
The lows: hatred taking centre stage and claiming incredible victories; loved ones forgetting about love and respect as we all clanged gongs and clashed cymbals; witnessing as scores fell prey to misinformation and a narrative of fear; and seeing friends and family and members of my tribe turn on each other again and again like malnourished sled dogs.
I’ve been right. I am wrong. And I’ve at times stopped listening, sacrificing love, respect, and grace on an altar to myself that I can’t even name.
The lows dig at me, friends.
The other day, as I was hot-glue-gunning popsicle sticks together to make a hanging Christmas ornament with my daughter, I felt a peace I’ve lately been missing. My iPhone was in the other room, my laptop closed, the TV off, and for over an hour I didn’t even think about email or social media or the spinning news cycle. I was working with my hands. Simply doing. And being. Talking. Listening.
It was restorative. And I realized that I need a break from the information firehose I’ve become accustomed to drinking from. It has become my default to check my phone at all hours, pull out my macbook to crawl for news, scan my social media feeds for tidbits and tokens. I miss working with my hands. I miss looking for what needs doing rather than what needs posting online. Picking up a book to just read for a little while without making sure my digital self is always within reach.
And so, in the New Year, I’m logging out. I’m going to focus on my faith, family, writing, home, reading, and the thousand analog, offline things I’ve been neglecting and forgetting.
I don’t know for how long. While I’ll drop in occasionally to share good news, reach out, or follow something that needs following, I’ll largely be digitally silent. I’ll still be reachable by phone, text, PM, and email, but I’ll be checking them less frequently.
I certainly won’t stop thinking about the people most important in my life, including those I’ve been blessed to connect with online. I know how to reach out. I do hope that when my thoughts do turn towards them, that those thoughts will be more intentional, will mean more.
Wish me luck. I wish for you in the new year—and beyond—abundant joy, luck, peace, and love.
Every November, The New Quarterly—the best literary journal in Canada, IMO—puts on Wild Writers a writers' festival in Waterloo, and this year I was privileged to have been a part of it.
From trying to nail down what "Voice" in fiction is with Carrie Snyder, Sharon Bala, Kerry-Lee Powell, and Kirsteen MacLeod, to taking in great readings and panel discussions, to having dinner with such CanLit luminaries as Madeleine Thien and Michael Helm, to rising early and introducing my family via FaceTime to Alissa York in a downtown Waterloo coffee shop, to... I couldn't imagine a writer feeling much more spoiled.
A great festival, put on by fabulous people. Do check it out next year if you can.
Thanks to Pamela Mulloy and Susan Scott for getting me involved, and thanks to everyone else involved.
Adele Gallogly has reviewed SAINTS, UNEXPECTED in The Banner, the official magazine of the Christian Reformed Church! Click here for the online version.
"Rattle and Quiet," a commissioned meditation on faith and music, has gone live at The Relief Journal.
Thanks to TRJ editor Adele Gallogly for reaching out and giving me the opportunity to showcase some of my work.
Readings, booksales, and other literary shenanigans abound on the SAINTS, UNEXPECTED west coast tour! More photos to be added as they become available.
Woke up to a very exciting email from the talented Elisabeth de Mariaffi, writer and fiction editor at Riddle Fence, offering to publish in their next issue "Cut Road," a story about tree planters staring down a monster forest fire that they started (which happened to the crew I was part of back in the early 90s, actually, though not quite as dramatically or perilously as what goes on in the story!).
In the lead-up to the Hamilton Public Library's "An Evening for Book Lovers" event, where I'm appearing and reading, and where this year's Hamilton Reads title will be revealed, SAINTS, UNEXPECTED appears in a promotional segment of CHCH TV's morning show.
Click here to view video.