Saturday, August 31, 2013

Eden Mills Writers’ Festival – A Reality

Poet Debbie Okun Hill asked if anyone was interested in accompanying her to the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival. I jumped at the chance. It was 2011 and she was attending the festival near Guelph as a Fringe reader. Though she was a member of my writing group, I didn’t know Debbie very well. Of course, all that changed over the course of a couple of days.

While I relaxed in the hotel room with a book in one hand and the other burrowing its way through a bag of peanuts, Debbie mingled with award winning authors and poets at the Saturday evening reception. I could hardly wait for her return. I wanted to know EVERYTHING.

The next day we left our Guelph hotel and bebopped over to Eden Mills. We’ve all heard the expression there was excitement in the air. Well, that describes the scene perfectly. The activity only added to the butterflies I was experiencing. Debbie remained her calm self.

As we wandered Publishers’ Way, stopping at various booths manned by authors and publishers, my friend generously introduced me to every acquaintance we came across that she’d met the evening before at the soiree.
One of the authors was Allan Casey, recipient of the Governor General’s Award for his book Lakeland. Allan was a very personable fellow and spent a few minutes talking to us about the complexity and mysteries of the publishing industry. I searched out Allan Casey’s book and carried it with me until I spotted him later in the afternoon and begged a personalized autograph. He graciously complied. This picture of me with the author was on the Eden Mills website.

I wandered Eden Mills capturing the flavour of the venue with pictures of the parade, various booths, and audience-dotted lawns with authors at the podiums. My camera remained at the ready, recording Debbie’s journey as a Fringe reader. Here she chats with Trudi and George Down of The Book Band.

Wolfing down a burger at the food court along the main street, I imagined Debbie snacking in the coveted writers’ lounge enjoying small talk with her favourite poets. I was thrilled for her.

It was an uplifting and inspirational experience and I was thankful for the opportunity to tag along.

Debbie read her poetry in her trademark cadence as I snapped picture after picture, all the while wondering how she could perform in front of a large audience in such a calm and professional manner. I was a bag of nerves for her.

At the end of the weekend, heading back home, Deb encouraged me to submit a story, saying that the next time we go to Eden Mills she would be on the other side of the camera, and I’d be at the podium. Riiiiiiight....

And so it shall be.

On Sunday evening, I received a phone call from the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival. They put me on speakerphone. I wondered if they could hear my heart pounding as I repeated “How exciting. That’s so exciting. Thank you. Thank you.”
Eden Mills Writers' Festival September 13 - 15, 2013 Twenty-Fifth Anniversary

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Experiencing Technical Difficulties

So what gives? Are you having problems with Google? Or experiencing trouble with Gmail? Is your Facebook account wonky? Are the settings on your computer changing at will? Or is this all a sinister plot against me?

Last week we cancelled our landline. It had been out of commission for over six weeks. For years, this rural area has been notorious for bad telephone lines. Then, about three weeks ago, lightening fried one of our appliances.

That’s not all that’s strange. While writing my blog this week, I noticed that my default settings on Microsoft Word had changed. Not such a big deal until I copied and pasted my blog post to Blogger. There it looked like a crazy mix of line spacing and indents throughout my document. Maybe it was Blogger. For a short scary period, I was unable to connect with my blog. I mean it just disappeared. I finally accessed it through my Facebook page but couldn’t get to the Dashboard.

Then Facebook started acting up. My updates were two or three days old. Then several updates would come through at once. Which reminds me, don’t you hate all those ads. It takes even more time to troll through updates now. If not for my writer page, I’d pack Facebook in. I have 78 Likes (do I hear 80?) though many don’t see my posts. I keep advising people to change the settings so they will receive my updates but I don’t know if that works. Now when I post an update to my writer page, Facebook tells me that for $30 they will ‘Boost’ my post so more people see it. hahaha

Everything Google seems to have a glitch. My two email accounts interchanged somehow. My default email address was not my default email address, if you get my drift. Then I couldn’t sign in to one of my email accounts. I should have worried but didn’t. I expected that eventually my account would open and I’d simply retrieve all the emails sent in the interim. WRONG!

I started worrying that it could be a virus or something. I checked my ultra reliable anti-virus protection and it showed no problems.

Wild thoughts like a compromised email account went through my mind. Tell you what, just to be on the safe side, if you receive a phone call or email saying I’m in trouble and need money, make sure you mail the cheque to my home address.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Accepted for Anthology

Good News! Soldier’s Last Wish will be included in an anthology, Best of Commuterlit Volume 1, to be released in September.
It almost never happened. It began as a writer’s nightmare – the one in which your work has been accepted but the publisher can’t reach you. Emails are lost, landline phone is not working. This is the third email we’ve sent. Respond immediately if you are interested. Yikes!
Commuterlit will be publishing two print anthologies of some of the best stories and poems from their archives. Volume 2 is scheduled for release in December. is an ezine that posts a new short story, novel excerpt or poem each day from Monday to Friday, specially formatted to read on a mobile device (smart phones, iPads, Blackberries). Of course, you can also access the stories and poems from the website at any time. Perfect for that morning coffee break!
Their focus is on works of fiction or poetry that can be enjoyed during a 20 to 30 minute public-transit commute to work. It’s a mix of not only literary fiction, but sci fi, fantasy, horror, mystery, thriller, and romance. If you write, check out their Submissions Guidelines.
This is my third acceptance for an anthology. Simone Press in the U.K. selected my story, Culling of a Nation, for their anthology Indie Trigger - Short Stories (May 2012) that is available on Amazon.
Culling of a Nation, described by writing guru Brian Henry as ‘wonderfully macabre’, was recently posted on his Quick Brown Fox website If you don’t follow this blog, you should. Here’s the link for my story, Culling of a Nation
As luck would have it, two of my stories, The Legend of Hallowed Ground and Twilight Imagery, will appear in a third anthology, A River Runs By It, to be launched in October of this year.
 Of my four anthology picks, Soldier’s Last Wish is about ... well, imagine ... never mind, I’ll give too much away. As the saying goes, read the book.
Culling of a Nation is termed speculative fiction ‒ frightening because it is so close to reality.
The stories from the anthology A River Runs By It are about the area where I live. The first story, The Legend of Hallowed Ground tells the history of a church that was on our property for over a hundred years and how we came to discover it. Nothing scary about that. It’s not like there was a cemetery here. I mean, we’d know if there was a cemetery – right?
The second story selected for this anthology, Twilight Imagery, is spooky. More so, because it is a true story. Past life regression? It has been suggested. I’ll wait to see what you think.