Archive for September, 2011

Lovely Eden Mills…

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

I spent a good part of the weekend in the picturesque village of Eden Mills less than an hour’s drive west of Toronto, for the 23rd annual Eden Mills Writers’ Festival. What a wonderful festival. I drove down on Friday night with the hilarious writer, playwright, and broadcaster Erika Ritter. We both read at the Gala dinner that kicked off the festival. The audience was large, warm, and welcoming. After the after-party, Erika and I drove back to Toronto. This was truly a commuting festival for me as I made three trips in all.

The book table at Eden Mills efficiently managed by the good folks at The Bookshelf.

On the Saturday, I drove back to Eden Mills for the Author Dinner on the beautifully landscaped grounds of a volunteer’s home. Festival founder Leon Rooke spoke, we were serenaded by an amazing guitarist, and we ate until we could eat no more (at least , I did). It was great fun and very relaxing to be among so many wonderful writers and festival volunteers. It was during the Author Dinner that I crossed another threshold in my writing career. All writers hit these milestones as you progress in your journey. You know what I mean, your first book, your first reading, your first prize, the first time you see someone on the subway reading your book, etc., etc. Well at the Author Dinner, I was named in my first ever writer Port-a-Potty tweet. I’m not sure what to make of it but I think it means I’ve somehow “arrived” even though I had just “gone,” if you know what I mean.

On Sunday, it was another enjoyable commute to Eden Mills in the company of Erika Ritter. My reading was at 2:30, at the Mill. It’s a beautiful outdoor venue on the side of a gentle grass slope that runs down into the river. It seemed to go well, although the allotted 20 minutes flew by. I signed books at the outdoor book store afterwards and chatted with readers, which is always a favourite part of any festival.

There was another great dinner Sunday night as the proceedings wound down. They must have served a dozen different kinds of pie for dessert. I may have had a piece of each one but I can’t really remember now. I think it’s possible that I was drunk on pie.

Over the course of  the weekend, I reconnected with lots of other writers and bookish people who I’d seen at other festivals and reading gigs including Drew Hayden Taylor, Robert Wiersema, Clare Hitchens, Andrew Pyper, Bill Deverell, Nino Ricci, John Vaillant and Alissa York. I also spent some time with writers I met at Eden Mills for the first time including the Booker longlisted Alison Pick, Sylvia Tyson, Dan Vyleta, Lorna Crozier, and Giller winner Johanna Skibsrud among others. It was my first time at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival, but I really hope I get the chance to go back. My thanks to the more than 100 volunteers who made it all happen. Hope to see you next year…

There’s still space open in my course at U of T…

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Starting next Wednesday evening, September 14th,  I’ll be teaching a course at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies in the Creative Writing program. The course is called How to Build an Audience for Your Writing. It runs for five Wednesday evenings and covers a range of techniques including blogging, podcasting, YouTube, Facebook, speaking gigs/readings, Twitter, and awards. The last session is a class reading, which was really wonderful in the first class. This is the second time I’ve taught the course. Last term we had about 25 writers in the class. It looks like the September enrollment is a little lighter, so there’s still plenty of room if you’d like to register. Click here or on the graphic below for more info on the course and how to register. Why not give it a shot?

I’m back from vacation and back to the blog…

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

My apologies to the dedicated readers of this humble blog, a small but mighty community, for the rather lengthy interregnum since my last post. (Sorry, I’ve always liked the word “interregnum”  although that’s not why I haven’t posted since August 9th.) I’ve been down in Nova Scotia (or in the car driving to and from Nova Scotia) for the last couple of weeks on a family vacation. We had a great time and I confess I rarely thought about what was going on back at the office. When you work with such great people, you can actually go away for two weeks and not worry.

On the writing front, I made great progress on our holiday. While my family slept, I got up every morning, usually between 6:00 and 7:00, and dug in for a few hours on novel #3 (still untitled). I wrote just shy of 20,000 words while I was away and am now nearly 70,000 words into what will probably be a 95,000 novel. My December 1st deadline to submit the manuscript to McClelland & Stewart is not quite so daunting with only five chapters yet to write. We stayed in a wonderful 160 year old house on the south shore of Nova Scotia, about 20 minutes from Chester.

Here’s a shot of the house. It was tough to sneak around inside. Everything creaked. But I guess we’ll all creak at 167 years old.

Here’s the view out the dining room window where I wrote every morning. That’s Little Tancook Island across the water.

After a week on the south shore, we stayed with my wife’s parents in the Annapolis Valley, a second home to us. As I have for each of my previous two novels, I wrote part of what will be novel #3 in the K.C. Irving Centre at Acadia University in beautiful Wolfville. I love writing in this room…

The fall is going to be very busy with quite a few upcoming appearances at several writers festivals. You can check out the heavy schedule here. But I still need to find time to finish the manuscript for novel #3.

Finally, stay tuned for some big news in the coming weeks that I just can’t quite share yet…