Category Archives: Writing and Stuff

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Short Story

Today one of my tweeps/Twitter friends suggested a preview of the novel (out in Fall 2015, it was confirmed this morning).

I think it’s a ways away from releasing excerpts, if that even becomes part of the marketing plan. But as a compromise I offered this, previously unpublished, short story.

(For those writer friends about to warn me against publishing it online first, rather than a lit journal, I know, I know. But I’m doing it anyway).

If I had to sum this story up in a few words, I’d say it’s about death and horses. Nice light summer read.

So here’s the PDF. Enjoy!

 

Process

I was recently asked to participate in a blog hop by Laureen Marchand of Val Marie, Sask.

Laureen Marchand is an artist, the owner of Grasslands Gallery in Val Marie, Saskatchewan, Canada and an artist mentor who helps artists navigate through all kinds of stuckness and find the next direction in their artistic careers. From her home near Grasslands National Park in one of Canada’s most remote and beautiful regions, Laureen brings over 25 years and the experience of dozens of exhibitions to her practice. Laureen can be found at www.grasslandsgallery.com and www.laureenmarchand.com .

Usually blog hops set out specific questions, but I decided to focus on the writing process.

I spent the first week of June at Spring Valley Guest Ranch, a B&B tucked away in a coulee north-west (I think) of Ravenscrag, Saskatchewan.

Continue reading Process

Poetry

I tweeted one of my poems earlier this week and I had a brain-wave. Why not post it on my blog, I thought?

So here is the first of several. This one makes me think of spring, so it seems appropriate.

Sustenance

Sustenance feels like a night-time drive
through the prairies, a thermos of coffee
and AM radio for company.

Brown earth ground into skin, clinging
to fingernails.
New grass struggling through dry soil,
dandelions pushing apart cracked pavement.

Jazz band swinging dancers
up, up
into euphoria.

Headlights pushing back the night.

Good News

My novel is going to be published. Wooo-hoooo!

NeWest Press, a literary publisher based in Edmonton, has picked up my book. We’re looking at a 2016 release. Between now and then there’s still work to be done, including:

  • more editing.
  • cover design, layout, etc…
  • marketing plans.
  • clearing copyright for song lyrics (although I’ve already started that process and I don’t think it will be too tedious).

But I wasn’t really thinking about all that when I got off the phone with Paul Matwychuk, NeWest’s general manager. I was thinking, “Woo-hoo!” And “I should phone my mom.”

Continue reading Good News

Fences of Shame

Everyone has dirty little fencing secrets. – Mary MacArthur, agricultural reporter

Each winter my parents go somewhere warm, which means I cow-sit for 12 days or so.

Every year there is some emergency fencing to be done. Cattle will occasionally knock down gates or snap barbed wire like a piece of thread.

When it comes to emergency fencing, my motto is “it only has to last long enough for Dad to fix it permanently.” This leads to some pretty sloppy stuff.

This year, despite having plenty of good-quality hay, the cows decided the few bales in the adjoining pen were more appetizing (even though they didn’t look appetizing to me). So they busted the top strand of wire.

Continue reading Fences of Shame

Stories

I took in the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild conference this last weekend. It was a great conference, and I had all kinds of interesting conversations with other writers (topics ranged from bar fights to politics, which is sometimes kind of the same thing, I guess).

Anyway, one thing that stuck with me was Tim Wynne-Jones’ comments on how people become writers. Basically, it’s like playing basketball – when you start out, you’re having fun, and you’re a slightly better shot than the other kids, or a little quicker, etc… At some point you have to work hard to develop that talent, but in the beginning it comes down to a love of the game and what might be a slim advantage over your peers.

And I thought that metaphor really rang true. When I think about why I became a writer, it probably comes down to a love for good stories. And  my grandma, Mary Guenther, is the first person who helped me develop that story ear.

Continue reading Stories

Shameless Self Promotion

An excerpt from the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild E-briefs:

Recipients of the John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Awards Announced
The Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild (SWG) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 14th Annual John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Awards. The first place winner is Linda Biasotto for Sweet Life; the second place winner Lisa Guenther for Friendly Fire; the third place winner is Marlis Wesseler for Pleasant Manor. The three—who receive $1,000, $650, and $350, respectively—were selected by judges Trevor Cole and Christine Pountney. Honourable Mention this year goes to Infinity Signs by Andréa Ledding.

(Side note: I read Marlis Wesseler’s novel “South of the Border” a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I’m honoured to be in such fine company.)

Continue reading Shameless Self Promotion

Revise

Last weekend my editor got back to me with the suggested revisions for my novel. This is my seventh round of revisions, but they’re not nearly as extensive as the first few rounds. I can see the finish line.

One of the biggest issues to tackle was the ending. I went from having a lengthy, expository ending in an earlier draft to an abrupt ending that would have left readers feeling like they’d fallen off a cliff. Neither was very good.

I hate it when writers tie up every loose string at the end of their books, and so that was what I was trying to avoid with the last draft.

Continue reading Revise