Sunday, November 29, 2009

Naked Launch

The launch was a blast. I hope this book does well because it's full of amazing writers and good solid stories with a tinge of darkness, which is the kind of writing I like mostly. Someone asked me why that is recently, and all I could think of was that stories of loss, even if there is redemption, are just more interesting. I'm not sure that would hold up under scrutiny, but there ya go.

I did my reading last Tuesday night and it seemed to go over well. There were plenty of compliments on it, but I don't think anyone would actually come out and say it was a bad reading. It was a strange experience, though. There were a few friends there from MUN and a few people I knew from the writing community--Michael Crummey, Michelle Butler Hallet, Leslie Vryenhoek, to name a few. And I also glimpsed Chad Pelley, who recently won the Cuffer Prize for 2009. Of course, editor and now friend Mike Heffernan was there, along with the illustrator Darren Whalen, whose work is phenomenally good.

The great thing about the launch was the feeling that next day that I was sort of floating--and not just because I was tired. And it's not like it was my first public reading of my work. People kept telling me how much they enjoyed it or that they heard it was good. And, of course, The Telegram published a pretty nice photo the next day. I'm not a fan of having my picture taken, but that one came out better than most (it's not the one above, btw. I don't have a link to the one taken by Joe Gibbons at the newspaper.

I did feel a little naked up there. But it was fun reading an excerpt from my story, "Hold Out". Whenever people pay attention to you as a writer, that's a good thing. For the next few days, I've been feeling very creative, like I could write anything I put my mind to. Even came up with an ending for the novel I've been labouring on these many months. Can't wait for Christmas break. It could be epic. Funny how acting like a writer can make you feel like one. Huh.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Hard Ol' Spot Launch

Tuesday night, Nov. 24th, a bunch of people will gather at Bianca's bar from 7-9 p.m. to celebrate the launch of the new short story collection, Hard Ol' Spot: An Anthology of Atlantic Canadian Fiction.

It's mostly a collection of "dark fiction," featuring a lot of really good writers, including Michael Crummey, Michelle Butler Hallett, JoAnne Soper-Cook, Ramona Dearing, and many others. I have two stories in this collection, one called "Break, Break, Break" and the other called "Hold Out". I'll write more on those two stories another time.

I've actually been asked by to be one of the two featured readers at this launch, which I take to be a huge honour, considering all of the talent involved in this project. I'll take any exposure I can get as a writer, of course, and this is a chance to show people what I do.

Bianca's is a pretty cozy setting. When you enter the restaurant, there's a door on your right that leads to the room where they hold book launches. There's a bar to buy drinks and a table set up to buy the books, as well as a microphone where the readers will read to an undoubtedly captivated audience. Then people will stand around and talk to each other about everything and anything.

I've often thought that book launches were a lot like funeral wakes, where people stand around and talk about anything except the corpse in the room. But, again, I suppose that's a topic for another time, maybe after I've actually been to the launch and survived it.

It should be a good time. There'll be lots of people there that I know, writers and academics and some amphibious ones like myself.

Hope to see you there. If not, spare us a thought, maybe even buy a book.

Peace out.

Star date 11/23/09: The Dawn Treader Comes Late

I've put this off for too long. For a little over two years, I've been writing a rather amphibious blog called "Literary Pursuits" in which I've carried off two identities that, at times, were not so distinct from each other. I am a writer who teaches English at Memorial University, and so I spend all summer blogging about me and my various pursuits, especially fiction writing, and then in the fall of the year I switch over to blogging about matters related to teaching. At times, it's been an uneasy alliance, as I begin to feel like the infamous Dr. Henry Jekyll who attempts to keep his darker, hidden side at bay.

Well, like Jekyll, my Hyde will no longer be bound. I begin this blog, called "Gothic Times" as a way of unleashing my thoughts about the writing life and about life in general. My musings here have nothing whatsoever to do with teaching anyone anything about life, death, writing, fate, faith, comma splices, sentence fragments, or anything to do with dead poets and writers.

And yet, I intend to talk about it all. I will have no boundaries here. If you come to this blog, whether as a former student, a non-student, an aspiring writer, or just an interested bystander--or even a disinterested bystander--you will learn nothing about anything. Not that I've tried to teach you anyway.  See there?  A sentence fragment! And I didn't try to disguise it. I didn't try to stop it or correct it. I just let it be, in all its disfigured beauty.

I have been writing fiction for a few years now and have been publishing stories and winning some awards, while I've been writing novels as well. So far, publication of a book has eluded me, but I sense a shift in the literary wind and feel that it's time I started writing about my own writing, not just other people's. More to the point, I intend to write about me as if no one was listening or reading. I will not attempt to offend anyone, nor will I attempt to avoid such offense. I write not on behalf of any university or for any particular group. I will, in short, be my naturally optimstically skeptical self.

I intend to write about whatever interests me. If it's fixes for sentence structure or musings on Robert Frost you're after, you're in the wrong place.

But if you're honestly interested, mildly or strongly or somewhere in between, in what  I do, stay tuned. I've got tons to say.

And no one can stop me.

This is mine.  This is me, no holds barred.