My first Slam! Poetry as experience art, delivered as performance art

Over morning coffee recently, I started thinking about the Beat Poets and cut-up poetry and choose-your-own-adventure books and hyperlinked fiction. There had to be a way to turn Internet surfing into a kind of ‘experience art.’ I was thinking about what I could create if I had the technical know-how, when I started writing a poem about it.

Soon after I received a reminder from the WCDR about their upcoming poetry slam competition. My piece felt like spoken word so I fired off an email stating my intention to perform. I should explain that I have my son’s teen French exchange buddy living with us so we’re extra busy. I had three days to rehearse, including two at my parent’s cottage. I also have a longtime fear of forgetting lines in public. It’s the reason I love improvisation but have never tried any serious acting. Let’s say I spent a lot of the car trip desperately saying my lines in my head while the boys slept in the backseat.

I was delighted to get through my piece Monday July 7th but even happier to make the finals.

The finals Saturday were exciting but daunting when I realized there would be a camera as well as the live audience. My poem was well-rehearsed this time but I didn’t expect to win. Who expects to win with their first effort? I performed, enjoyed the applause and basked in positive feedback, including from guest slammer Cathy Petch who performed as the votes were tallied.

I’ve deliberately written non-fiction and stories and I have several novels in various stages of editing. It’s poetry I write the least and never deliberately. That’s why it surprises me that I’ve had recognition for “When Johnny Mars Turns Five,” publication of “Fallow God,” in the Urban Green Man Anthology and made the finals with my slam, “Found Poetry Finds You.” Perhaps the poetic muse exists after all. Perhaps there’s something in the coffee.

Now if I could just figure out how to automate cut-up poetry…

Happy writing,


New Canadian Noir & a French Exchange

I just made the deadline to submit a story to The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir. Wish me luck as this anthology, edited by Claude Lalumiere and David Nickle is sure to attract a lot of submissions.

My other news is that I have started editing my latest novel, Hot Old Ladies Club. I hope to have a good draft, ready for beta readers by August. It will be real a challenge as this month I am entertaining my son’s exchange partner until July 24.

I don’t often talk about my family in this blog out of an almost superstitious fear that something bad will happen to my son if I mention him on the Internet. He’s fourteen now so it’s time to relax a bit. Heck, I’m letting him go to France and live with another family for a month. This is no time to be a helicopter mom.

The topic of exchanges is so interesting to me, both through personal experience and as a parent and educator, that I’m thinking of writing some non-fiction on the topic. More about that in a later post.

Happy reading.


Camp NaNoWriMo

I’ve set a goal to write the first draft of my new comedy in the month of April. It features an ensemble cast with earthy magic at the core of the premise and enough fun and games to call it screwball. “Hot Old Ladies Club,” is about a ladies book club where a deal is made, a wish is granted, and that is why everything goes horribly wrong. I hope reading it will be as much fun as I’m having writing it.

Here are my stats so far:

Average Words Per Day 2,453
Words Written Today 3,346
Target Word Count 60,000
Total Words Written 34,342
Words Remaining 25,658
Current Day 14
Days Remaining 17
At This Rate You Will Finish On April 25, 2014
Words Per Day To Finish On Time 1,510

I have purposely set my target low. The story is more likely to be a bit over 70 000 words but if I have 60 000 by April 25, I should have a few extra days get it done by month’s end.

Why set this kind of output goal? If it seems arbitrary, it’s not. Professional fiction writers often write over 2000 words a day, in addition to editing and other writing-related work. I’m teaching myself to work more and write better, and with a story as funny as this one, I’m having lots of fun doing it.

Skiing Le Massif De Charlevoix

Following my adventures in Peru, I spent a week in Quebec with a four French tourists. My friend, the parent of my high school exchange partner, is a remarkable woman who skis in the Pyrenees and who enjoys travelling all over the world. I spent an athletic week with them, hiking through snow on snow shoe trails, investigating fishing shacks on the St. Lawrence river and even skiing on something called “Le Massif,” of Charlevoix. I’m no downhill skier. I’m afraid of heights! I had no right to even consider skiing on anything called “Le Massif.” My ears popped as we drove up to the top.

Previously I have only skied a few times with school groups on tame, short, Ontario runs. I’m too restless to sit around in the chalet all day, though, so when it turned out the cross-country skiing was in another location (duh we were on top of a mountain) I decided to take a lesson and face the beginner run with death-defying bravery. Brave for me, anyway.

It was a fantastic experience and I only fell three times. Once when I kind of saw I was heading off course towards the trees below and forgot all about breaking and steering and just kind of threw my limbs around until my fall made me stop. After that I got a remedial lesson in emergency braking and things went better.

If this was one of those inspirational business blogs or one of those blogs about writing, I’d probably be making all sorts of facile comparisons between the slopes and other goals. What a relief that it’s not. Let’s just say I don’t regret it. I’m glad I tried it and, despite having a little extra knee pain in the following weeks, it was absolutely worth it.

In other news, I never visit La Belle Province without buying a book. If you read French I highly recommend my latest acquisition. It’s a book of short stories by Samuel Archibald called Arvida. Such varied stories and so revealing of the author and his society.

I bought the book and went to a cafe to start reading while I waited for my friends to finish shopping. When I returned to the book shop to show them about an hour later, the store had already sold another copy. It doesn’t hurt that my edition had a large red paper band, labelling it the winner of the “Prix des libraires.” (The book store prize)

Eclectic, personal and intense, I highly recommend it, but not for the squeamish.

Happy reading.

Off to Peru!

I will be spending most of the month of February in Peru, socializing with my sister-in-law’s family and friends and learning as much Spanish as I can. As a Canadian, I have French but my Spanish so far is just what I’ve picked up here and there from hobby courses or books. Time to get serious!

In the meantime, I’ve started a new novel but with the whirlwind of preparations for my trip, progress is slow. It’s plotted out roughly and I know what kind of tone I want. I know the ending I’m building to and the characters. There is no reason not to work, except I can’t concentrate on anything but my trip. Maybe I should be writing about that instead.

Hasta luego!


Writing Contests & Writing Boot Camp

This year I’ve decided to concentrate on writing short as well as long. I’ve been writing a crazy number of new stories, not all of which will see a polished draft. Many of them are the usual 2000 word length but I’ve been writing some very short ones as well.

If you are interested in short short stories, I recommend Holly Lisle’s method to get the creative juices flowing. Hers is not the only way, but if you like to plan out your stories, this may work for you: How to Write Short Fiction That Doesn’t Suck.

So far I’ve entered four contests in the past two months.

I’ve included the links for your information.

For poets and poetry fans, I’ve also posted a couple of my poems recently on Wattpad which you can read here. 

The titles are:

(Short listed by the Science Fiction Poetry Association Contest)

(About plastic and the marine garbage patch)

Happy reading, and writing.


Urban Green Man Online Book Launch, Can-Con Readings and NaNoWriMo Panel

I will be reading a published story “Wild Caving” and my poem “Fallow God” from the Urban Green Man Anthology at Can-Con (Spec Fic Convention) in Ottawa, Canada on Oct 5-6. If you plan to attend, I will also be involved in the NaNoWriMo panel. I hope to see you there!

 EDGE is holding an online book launch for the Urban Green Man Anthology starting October 2 at noon (CST). Go to Oct. 2-3 and interact with the authors online. I’m going to try to log in around 3 pm CST each day. What time is that in your city? Here is a link to a time and date converter

This should be great fun for readers who can interact with authors from all over. If you have always wanted to try an online book launch, I think it would be interesting to drop in and see how it’s done. 

Take care and happy reading,


Spies are From Mars – The Horse can see the barn!

Have you ever had a feeling of regret as you finished reading a book? You knew you would miss the characters and their stories, as if they were old friends. Well, it’s a little different when you are writing the book. Sure, I’m a little sorry to finish rewriting Spies are from Mars, but I’m happy about it too. Today I reached page 223 of my manuscript, which adds up to 66 700 words out of  between 70 000 and 90 000, depending on the editing process.

It’s exhilarating when you get close to the end and the writing goes faster, like taking a trail ride when the horse suddenly sees the barn and gallops towards it. Nothing can stop it or slow it, especially not a newbie like me, hanging on with arms and legs any way I can.

Note: In my metaphorical version of this story, the horse does not stop fast when it reaches the barn and send me flying over its head.

Update: Aug. 14, 2013. The new draft is done. Stats: 74 100 words/ 247 pages.

Urban Green Man — In my hot little hands!

Update: I recently received my contributor’s copy of Urban Green Man, including a green man pendant as an extra thank-you. How nice to have a souvenir from my first poetry sale!

This summer I’m taking a break from blogging and critiquing in order to finish the new draft of my work-in-progress, “Spies are from Mars.” As of today I have written 57 800 words of a complete rewrite, and when I say complete I mean it. The only thing I didn’t change was Mars.

I’m getting published, twice!

I am bursting to tell you my publishing news, times two: 

My short story “Wild Caving,” is going to be published in the Amprosia anthology, which launches in two weeks.

My poem “Fallow God,” is going to be published in the Urban Green Man Anthology, with an introduction by Charles De Lint.

The Green Man is an archetype of renewal and fertility, associated with forests and the European countryside. You might see his carved face disgorging sculpted stone leaves or hear legends of the Green Knight. He is at home in churches, forests and at the ever popular Green Man Inn. 

This new anthology, edited by Adria Laycraft, takes the Green Man archetype into the modern landscape where he is reinvented, relevant, reborn. To me, the urban green man is a shot of hot sap to reawaken our true natures and shake us out of complacency. 


Evergreen by Susan MacGregor
The Gift by Susan Forest
Sap and Blood by Martin Rose
The Green Square by dvsduncan
Awake by Peter Storey
Breath Stirs in the Husk by Eileen Wiedbrauk
Green Apples by Rhiannon Held


The Grey Man by Randy McCharles
Mr. Green by Gary Budgen
Whithergreen by Karlene Tura Clark
Cui Bono by Eric James Stone
Fallow God by Maaja Wentz
Green Man She Restless by Billie Milholland


Purple Vine Flowers by Sandra Wickham
Exile by Mark Russell Reed
Without Blemish by Celeste Peters
Waking the Holly Kin Eileen Donaldson
Deer Feet by Michael J. DeLuca
Buried in the Green by Heather M. O’Connor
The Forest Lord by Sarina Dorie


Greentropy by Calie Voorhis
Abandon All… by Goldeen Ogawa
Green Salvage by Miriah Hetherington
The Ring of Life by Nu Yang
Cottage on the Bluff Michael Healy
Johnny Serious Satyros Phil Brucato
Fun Sucker by Suzanne Church


Greener Pastures by Micheal J. Martineck
Green Jack by Alyxandra Harvey
Green is Good by Karen Danylak
Neither Slumber Nor Sleep by Kim Goldberg