Thursday, February 28, 2013

Books that grab you

"Nick Harkaway's Angelmaker, which manages to combine a 90-year-old super spy, a clockwork repairman and a cunning plan to destroy every living thing in the universe, has won him the Kitschies Red Tentacle award for the most intelligent, progressive and entertaining speculative novel of the year.
     Set up by the books site Pornokitsch, the Kitschies go annually to books that 'elevate the tone' of genre fiction. The Red Tentacle prize for best novel – which comes with a large, tentacular trophy, £1,000 and a bottle of Kraken rum – has been won in the past by books including Patrick Ness's A Monster Calls, Lauren Beukes's Zoo City and China Miéville's The City and the City.
     Harkaway's second novel, Angelmaker, in which gangster's son turned clockwork repairman Joe Spork tries to put a stop to monks who are plotting the universe's destruction, beat titles by Adam Roberts, Frances Hardinge, Jesse Bullington and Julie Zeh to win this year's award."
— Alison Flood, The Guardian
Read more…

Get all the books mentioned in this post here...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"[…] when you lose your furniture, household items, you can replace them. But with his books, it was really as if he lost the woman he loved most in his life..." — Rasha Barghouti

From: Al Jazeera English

"As war came to Jerusalem in May 1948, Palestinian Omar Saleh Barghouti fled his home, leaving behind hundreds of his books, including years worth of his diaries. He would never see them again.
      Unknown to him, as the battle over the creation of the Jewish state raged, teams of Israeli librarians and soldiers were collecting tens of thousands of books from Palestinian homes in Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa and elsewhere -- including 256 from Barghouti's home in the Katamon neighbourhood.
     For Israel, the effort was a way to preserve books which would eventually be returned to their owners. But for the Palestinians, it was theft.
     Omar's granddaughter Rasha Barghouti remembers his stories about his books.
     "He was a lawyer who had an office on Jaffa Street," she told AFP. "He used to write a lot — his diaries, the history of Palestine, of Palestinian families, the Jordanian regime, the tribal law."
     After two years in exile in Egypt, Barghouti moved to the West Bank city of Ramallah, reaching out to Jewish friends in what was now Israel to try and get his books back."
— Agence France-Presse, (via globalpost)
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From Surfing to Serfdom

"In Who Owns the Future? [Jaron Lanier] tellingly questions the trajectory of economic value in the information age, and argues that there has been a fundamental misstep in how capitalism has gone digital. For Lanier, late capitalism is not so much exhausted as humiliating: in an automated world, information is more important to the economy than manual labour, and yet we are expected to surrender information generated by or about ourselves – a valuable resource – for free. […]
     In his view, disproportionate economic power now accumulates around companies who 'own the fastest computers with the most access to everyone's information.' We donate extremely lucrative information – our interests, demographic predilections, buying habits, cyber-movements – in exchange for 'free' admission into social media networks. (Digitisation has also allowed banks to repackage the 'information' of a mortgage debt and sell it on as increasingly complex financial products, while excluding the indebted home-owner from a percentage of the profits.)
     Lanier argues that the early internet years have fetishised open access and knowledge-sharing in a way that has distracted people from demanding fairness and job security in an economy predicated on data flow."
— Laurence Scott, The Guardian
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Books Be Gone (Page Two)

From: Zoomed In

"Amazon is advising users of the Kindle iOS app not to download the latest update due to a bug that can delete users' existing libraries and settings from their device.
     Amazon issued an update for its Kindle app on Tuesday, but it didn't take long for some users to report it was actually deleting their content. The good news is libraries are retrievable, thanks to back up in the Cloud, but the update deregisters users and makes them start the upload process all over again.
     'The update deleted all books from my iPad, and I had to register again, creating a second name for the same iPad,' wrote one review on the app's page in the Apple App Store [iTunes link]. 'It's like starting all over again. Now I have to upload [download?] over 130 books from the cloud.'"
— Samantha Murphy, Mashable

Read a related post here...

Monday, February 25, 2013


From: Blue Pueblo

"Last August, a book titled Leapfrogging hit The Wall Street Journal's list of best-selling business titles upon its debut. The following week, sales of the book, written by first-time author Soren Kaplan, plunged 99% and it fell off the list. […]
     It isn't uncommon for a business book to land on best-seller lists only to quickly drop off. But even a brief appearance adds permanent luster to an author's reputation, greasing the skids for speaking and consulting engagements.
     Mr. Kaplan says the best-seller status of Leapfrogging has 'become part of my position as a speaker and consultant.'
     But the short moment of glory doesn't always occur by luck alone. In the cases mentioned above, the authors hired a marketing firm that purchased books ahead of publication date, creating a spike in sales that landed titles on the lists. The marketing firm, San Diego-based ResultSource, charges thousands of dollars for its services in addition to the cost of the books, according to authors interviewed.
     As ResultSource's website points out, hitting best-seller lists can mean fame, and potentially lucrative consulting assignments."
— Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, The Wall Street Journal
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See a related article here…


Source image from:

"It’s curious how much of literature we are conditioned to consider unliterary. Few would contest the canonization of Bleak House, Vanity Fair, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but these classics have something in common we may be prone to disregard: each was published with profuse illustrations, and in each case the author relied on the artwork not only to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the book but to add meaningfully to the story. […]
     I suspect that most fiction writers would instinctively agree that interacting with visual representations of a book in draft can help give shape to evanescent impressions or inspire new ideas. (In the most famous instance, F. Scott Fitzgerald 'wrote in' the image of T. J. Eckleburg’s haunting optometry billboard after seeing Francis Cugat’s dust-jacket design for The Great Gatsby) […]

Then there is the future of digital readers, which erode that largely theoretical firewall writers have installed to keep their work from the corrupting influence of film. E-readers allow you to read text, look at pictures, and watch videos on the same device; already, 'transmedia' books such as 2012’s The Silent History have appeared that combine all three elements into the reading experience. (E-readers will also relieve the strain of printing costs, one of the factors that have led publishing houses to discourage illustrations.)"
— Sam Sacks, The New Yorker
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Early Atwood

From: Leaside High School Year Book (sosyalokur)

"[…] she told us that her first step in becoming a writer was buying a publication called Writers’ Markets, which said that the money was in true romance stories. She told us: 'I thought, I‘ll do that during the day and write my deathless masterpieces at night.' There was a certain formula to these stories, she said. 'There would be a choice between two men – one would have a motorcycle and one would work in a shoe store. The woman would get involved with the unreliable one . . . . There were various ways of ending the story. The best way was patching things up with the shoe store guy . . . . But there would always be a scene on the sofa: "and then they were one." I couldn’t bring myself to do that. That wasn’t going to happen.'
     Her next idea was journalism school. Her parents, 'biting their tongues', 'dredged up' a journalist second cousin, who told her that, as a woman, she would end up doing 'nothing but obituaries and the ladies’ fashion pages.' She decided to go to university and write in the summer holidays. At the time she graduated, teachers were in great demand, so she taught grammar to engineers at the University of British Columbia. 'At 8.30 in the morning. They were asleep. I was also asleep.'

Becoming a professional writer in Canada wasn’t easy for anyone. Atwood told us that in the 1950s and 1960s there were only about five literary magazines. In 1960, only five novels by Canadians were published in Canada. In bookshops, Canadian poetry and fiction would appear in the 'Canadiana' section. Many aspiring writers left for England or the US."
— Catherine Morris, The Times Literary Supplement Blog
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Buy all of Margaret Atwood's books here...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lost City

"TIMBUKTU, Mali — When the moment of danger came, Ali Imam Ben Essayouti knew just what to do. The delicate, unbound parchment manuscripts in the 14th-century mosque he leads had already survived hundreds of years in the storied city of Timbuktu. He was not about to allow its latest invaders, Tuareg nationalist rebels and Islamic extremists from across the region, to destroy them now.
     So he gingerly bundled the 8,000 volumes in sackcloth, carefully stacked them in crates, then quietly moved them to a bunker in an undisclosed location. 'These manuscripts, they are not just for us in Timbuktu,' Mr. Essayouti said. 'They belong to all of humanity. It is our duty to save them.'”
— Linda Polgreen, The New York Times

Paper Romance

From: Logie Books

"Why have Japanese consumers not fallen in love with digital reading? 'So far the Japanese have failed to be moved by e-readers from home or abroad, mostly owing to a paucity of content,' says editor and publisher of Japan's E-book 2.0 magazine Hiroki Kamata. Sony (SNE), for instance, has been in the market for more than seven years but has sold only 500,000 e-readers in Japan. Other manufacturers' tablets have begun to sell here, but overall the category is still way behind e-reader take-up in the U.S. or Europe. Tablet sales have tripled since 2011, with market research firm IDC estimating tablet sales in Japan to be 3.6 million units.
     Japanese consumers still seem dead set against adopting e-books, showing less interest in them than even the print-worshipping French. According to an R.R. Bowker study, 72% of Japanese consumers said they had not tried e-books and did not want to try them. That compares with 66% of French respondents polled. Overall adoption rates in Japan remain the lowest in the developed world. Only 8% of Japanese readers have downloaded and paid for an e-book compared with 20% in the U.S."
— Michael Fitzpatrick, CNNMoney
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The best-selling Japanese novel of all time has been Norwegian Wood (ノルウェイの森 Noruwei no Mori?) by Haruki Murakami, published in 1987. It has sold approximately 12 million copies. A similar English language best seller of the same period: The Pillars of Earth, by Ken Follett, has sold approximately 15 million copies since 1989.
     Neither compares to the all-time best-selling novel, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Its sales to date — granted, it was published in 1859, but the numbers are still impressive — are approximately 200 million. (data and details from Wikipedia)

"The novel [Norwegian Wood] is set in Tokyo during the late 1960s, a time when Japanese students, like those of many other nations, were protesting against the established order. While it serves as the backdrop against which the events of the novel unfold, Murakami (through the eyes of Toru and Midori) portrays the student movement as largely weak-willed and hypocritical. […]
     Norwegian Wood was hugely popular with Japanese youth and made Murakami something of a superstar in his native country [...]. A film based on this novel and with the same name was released in Japan on 11 December 2010 […]."
Read more…

Saturday, February 23, 2013


"The Internet may be disrupting much of the book industry, but for short-story writers it has been a good thing.
     Story collections, an often underappreciated literary cousin of novels, are experiencing a resurgence, driven by a proliferation of digital options that offer not only new creative opportunities but exposure and revenue as well.
     Already, 2013 has yielded an unusually rich crop of short-story collections, including George Saunders’s Tenth of December, which arrived in January with a media splash normally reserved for Hollywood movies and moved quickly onto the best-seller lists. Tellingly, many of the current and forthcoming collections are not from authors like Mr. Saunders, who have always preferred short stories, but from best-selling novelists like Tom Perrotta, who are returning to the form. […]
     In recent decades the traditional outlets for individual short stories have dwindled, with literary magazines closing or shrinking. But the Internet has created an insatiable maw to feed."
— Leslie Kaufman, The New York Times
Read more…

Buy all of George Saunders's books here...

Happy Food for Thought

"Earlier this month, McDonald’s announced that throughout the UK [they] are replacing the toys that have traditionally come with Happy Meals with educational books as part of an effort to help boost literacy. 
     With this move, the company will become the UK’s largest children’s book distributor with plans to give away more than 15 million books over the next two years. They are teaming up with Dorling Kindersley and WH Smith for the promotion."
— Dennis Abrams, Publishing Perspectives

Friday, February 22, 2013

"People get ready, there's a train a comin'" — Curtis Mayfield


William Lyon Mackenzie King (his dog Pat is nowhere to be seen) and an unknown friend boarding a train in Montreal. They are setting out in 1930 convinced that they will reach Elora in time for the 2013 Writer's Festival.
     They have read all of Terry Fallis's books and have taken it upon themselves to seek out Mr. Fallis and solicit his advice on the matter of the Great Depression. In deference to the plight of the common man they have pledged to restrict their movements to second class compartments. Even the Dining Car is off-limits.
     (Note that the Prime Minister's mysterious friend has a Festival brochure in his breast pocket  a detail which is puzzling to say the least, since the brochures has yet to be printed.)

"[…] make the thing look worse."

"[…David Pearson, on-time, Penguin in-house designer] was [...] responsible for the 2007 redesign of the Penguin Popular Classics series, the cheapo, no-introduction, no-scholarly notes edition originally brought out to counter the threat of Wordsworth Classics. The previous look had been full bleed artwork with a tan-coloured oval title box towards the top. They were, to be charitable, twee in the extreme. To be uncharitable, they were horrid.
     Penguin ran an internal competition to come up with a comprehensive overhaul of the series. Five designers submitted, and Pearson won with a super-plain, type-only design featuring modern Gill Sans lettering, a doubled up logo featuring two dancing penguins (to denote, perhaps rather obliquely, the ‘popular’ aspect) and the £2 price tag, prominently, even proudly, displayed. The cover was an equally restrained maroon."
— Jonathan Gibbs, The Independent

From: Penny Dreadful Vintage

An early Penguin cover design. Note the price: "One shilling and sixpence," which by today's reckoning (since Decimal Day in 1971) would be 7 1/2p. 

Charting Pi

From: Vulture

"[Yann] Martel's narrator, who chooses his mathematical nickname to avoid being known as 'Pissing,' would undoubtedly be delighted at the news that the novel he narrates, Life of Pi, has just sold its 3,141,593rd copy for its British publisher Canongate – an extraordinary feat for a novel published only 10 years ago. "
The Guardian (2013)

"A Hindu, a Muslim and a Christian are trapped on a lifeboat for 227 days with a 450-pound Bengal tiger. It sounds suspiciously like the setup of a joke, something you might hear at a tavern from the guy who's been downing gimlets all night. But 'Life of Pi,' the Canadian writer Yann Martel's extraordinary novel based on this very premise, is hardly your average barroom gag. Granted, it may not qualify as 'a story that will make you believe in God,' as one character describes it. But it could renew your faith in the ability of novelists to invest even the most outrageous scenario with plausible life  although sticklers for literal realism, poor souls, will find much to carp at."
— Gary Krist, The New York Times (2002)
Read more…

Buy all of Yann Martel's books here...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The word is out... about Terry Fallis


Join us on Sunday, May 26, 2013 (1 to 4 P.M.) at the Elora Centre for the Arts, 75 Melville Street, Elora for a relaxing yet thought-provoking afternoon of readings by Sonia Day, Terry Fallis, Carrie Snyder, Andrew Westoll, Ailsa Kay and Robert Rotenberg.
     For $20.00 (includes Reception) you get to enjoy readings by six of Canada's finest authors; a Q&A session; a "Schmooze-fest" replete with wine & appetizers… and BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS (Get them signed by the author[s].) courtesy of Roxanne's Reflections.

     It's wonderful to have Terry Fallis back with us again in 2013. He knocked 'em dead at the Festival in 2010 and we look forward to what is sure to be an entertaining exegesis of his latest book Up and Down.
     Join us in welcoming him back on Sunday, May 26 at the Elora Centre for the Arts.

"Terry Fallis is the author of The Best Laid Plans, and The High Road, satirical novels of Canadian politics. His debut novel (TBLP) was originally self-published in 2007 and won the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.
     Then McClelland & Stewart published TBLP in September 2008. He also won the Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards in the Regional Fiction – Canada East category. In 2010, the Waterloo Region chose The Best Laid Plans as the One Book, One Community selection. In February, 2011, The Best Laid Plans was crowned the winner of CBC Canada Reads as the 'essential Canadian novel of the decade.' In November 2011, CBC-Television announced that The Best Laid Plans is indevelopment as a six-part TV miniseries.
     McClelland & Stewart published the sequel to The Best Laid Plans, called The High Road, in September 2010. It was a finalist for the 2011 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, in April, 2011.
     McClelland & Stewart published Terry’s third novel, Up and Down, in September 2012, and it debuted on the Globe and Mail bestsellers list."
Read more…

Hot off the press...
"I was thrilled to learn earlier this week that Up and Down has been shortlisted for the 2013 Ontario Library Association Evergreen Award for 'the best in adult Canadian fiction and non-fiction.' I am truly honoured. It’s wonderful to be on the list with such amazing writers as Eva Stachniak, Susan Swan, Robert J. Sawyer, Donna Morrisey, Marina Endicott and others. I gather library cardholders can vote during Ontario Public Library Week in October. I’m grateful to the Ontario Library Association for this unexpected recognition."
— Terry Fallis
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Buy all of Terry Fallis's books here...

"There is a crack, a crack in everything/That's how the light gets in" — Leonard Cohen

"For nearly three decades, Ann Ireland has been peering behind the layers into the psychology of the artist. Her 1985 award-winning first novel, A Certain Mr. Takahashi, explores the tension between two sisters in love with a Japanese pianist. And her 1996 novel, The Instructor, and the 2002 Governor-General’s Award short-listed novel Exile, both examine treacherous relationships in the visual and literary arts.
     Ten years later, Ireland turns an observant eye – or ear, I should say – to the world of competitive music [...].
     The novel draws a lot of parallels between creativity and mental illness. Depending on your experience, you’ll either be convinced by Ireland’s lumping of assorted matters of the mind with creativity, or you won’t.
     However, what Ireland does exceedingly well is mimic a creative mind under intense pressure. She has the ability to render acoustic sound in language that is beautiful and startling."
— Jessica Michalofsky, The Globe and Mail
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The word is out... about Ailsa Kay

Join us on Sunday, May 26, 2013 (1 to 4 P.M.) at the Elora Centre for the Arts, 75 Melville Street, Elora for a relaxing yet thought-provoking afternoon of readings by Sonia Day, Terry Fallis, Carrie Snyder, Andrew Westoll, Ailsa Kay and Robert Rotenberg.
     For $20.00 (includes Reception) you get to enjoy readings by six of Canada's finest authors; a Q&A session; a "Schmooze-fest" replete with wine & appetizers… and BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS (Get them signed by the author[s].) courtesy of Roxanne's Reflections.

     Welcome home, Ailsa!
     Ailsa Kay and Amy Appleford were the driving forces behind the committee of the Elora Arts Council that started the Elora Writers' Festival (Words by the Water) back in 1994. That first festival was an ambitious confection of formal readings at the Gorge Cinema, along with more casual and intimate events at cafes and outdoor locales in and around the village.

"Ailsa Kay's new novel (Under Budapest) came out of her life-changing visit to Hungary ('I fell in love with Budapest when I lived there in 2004. I return as often as I can, which is not as often as I would like.').
     She has taught writing at college and university where she has learned from her students to laugh a lot, swear occasionally, and always risk that leap of faith ('I teach and I love to teach. I don’t know what this says about me.').
     Kay’s short fiction has appeared in literary journals such as Exile and The New Quarterly. After twenty years in Toronto, she recently returned to her hometown of Fergus, Ontario."
— (from Fictionista! and Ailsa

     Under Budapest, her first novel, will be published in April by Goose Lane Editions.

Find out more about Ailsa Kay here…

And pre-order Ailsa's book Under Budapest here…

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"Literature engages us because it is rooted. It tangles itself in the quotidian, concrete, individualized nitty-gritty of human experience." — Daniel Taylor

"Stories teach us how to live. We are born and raised in stories, and stories answer all the big questions in life: who am I? why am I here? what should I do? Stories are especially suited for answering the 'ought' questions, perhaps the most perplexing questions of all. For a hundred years and longer intellectuals and culture shapers have been nervous about the categories of right and wrong. We have tried to live as though these are merely words for opinion or personal preference. One unintended consequence has been widespread moral paralysis and passivity. We have, as individuals and as a culture, a greatly diminished ability to say, 'This is wrong, and this is right.' We still say these things, of course, because they are rooted in our nature; but we have a hard time either defending or acting on what we say. Stories can help."
— Daniel Taylor (from his essay The Ethical Implications of Storytelling)

Buy all of Daniel Taylor's books here...

"And isn't it ironic…" — Alanis Morissette

"Amazon is at the centre of a deepening scandal in Germany as the online shopping giant faced claims that it employed security guards with neo-Nazi connections to intimidate its foreign workers.
    Germany’s ARD television channel made the allegations in a documentary about Amazon’s treatment of more than 5,000 temporary staff from across Europe to work at its German packing and distribution centres.
     The film showed omnipresent guards from a company named HESS Security wearing black uniforms, boots and with military haircuts. They were employed to keep order at hostels and budget hotels where foreign workers stayed. 'Many of the workers are afraid,' the programme-makers said.
     The documentary provided photographic evidence showing that guards regularly searched the bedrooms and kitchens of foreign staff. 'They tell us they are the police here,' a Spanish woman complained. Workers were allegedly frisked to check they had not walked away with breakfast rolls."
— Tony Paterson, The Independent

"As early as this April, Yale plans to welcome a training center for interrogators to its campus.
     The center’s primary goal would be to coach U.S. Special Forces on interviewing tactics designed to detect lies. Charles Morgan III, a professor of psychiatry who will head the project, calls these tactics 'people skills.' These techniques would be honed using New Haven’s immigrant community as subjects. Morgan hopes that by having soldiers practice their newly acquired techniques on 'someone they can’t necessarily identify with' (read: someone who is not white), they’ll be better prepared to do ‘the real thing’ abroad.
     What’s the problem here? We see several.
     First, intelligence does not exist in a vacuum. It is gathered to support a particular foreign policy agenda, the morality of which is not beyond question.
     It seems evident that Yale would not train foreign military operatives to interrogate informants. Yale as an institution does not — cannot — align itself blindly with the goals of other militaries.
     But who is to say we should align ourselves with U.S. foreign policy? Though its goals are at times morally defensible, they can also be appalling. The techniques soldiers learn at Yale might be used, for example, to identify candidates for President Obama’s 'kill list,' which is itself unethical and likely illegal. If someone lies to protect their friend from ending up on that kill list, is that a lie it is moral to detect? By training soldiers to perform these interrogations, Yale would be complicit in achieving these goals."
— Natalie Batraville and Alex Lew, Yale Daily News
Read more…

To see books you should avoid buying, go here...

And if you still want them, don't buy them here...

The word is out... about Robert Rotenberg

Join us on Sunday, May 26, 2013 (1 to 4 P.M.) at the Elora Centre for the Arts, 75 Melville Street, Elora for a relaxing yet thought-provoking afternoon of readings by Sonia Day, Terry Fallis, Carrie Snyder, Andrew Westoll, Ailsa Kay and Robert Rotenberg.
     For $20.00 (includes Reception) you get to enjoy readings by six of Canada's finest authors; a Q&A session; a "Schmooze-fest" replete with wine & appetizers… and BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS (Get them signed by the author[s].) courtesy of Roxanne's Reflections.
From: The Star

"I really can’t remember a time when I wasn’t thinking of stories, then writing them. When I was seven my oldest brother got a portable typewriter for his Bar Mitzvah. I was transfixed by it. I’d sneak into his room and use it. And I read everything on the bookshelves of my two very smart older siblings. When I was 15, I sent a short story to the New Yorker. (I kept the rejection letter, on their letterhead no less, for years.) I wrote my first film script the next year."
— Robert Rotenberg,

"After graduating from law school in Toronto, Robert Rotenberg became the managing editor of Passion, the English-speaking magazine of Paris. He then returned to publish and edit his own magazine, T.O. The Magazine of Toronto.
     Eighteen years ago he opened his own law practice and is today one of Toronto’s top criminal lawyers, defending, as he likes to say 'everything from murder to shoplifting.'
     Rotenberg lives in Toronto with his wife, television news producer Vaune Davis, [and] their three children."
Simon & Schuster
Read more…

"Rotenberg's first novel, Old City Hall, was set in Toronto, and as the name suggests, features pivotal scenes in the city's historic Old City Hall. It was shortlisted for The Crime Writers Association John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award at the 2009 Crime Thriller Awards. Since then he has published The Guilty Plea (2011), and Stray Bullets (2012).
     His new book Stranglehold will be released in May, [just in time to be featured at the Elora Writers' Festival.]"

Get all of Robert Rotenberg's books here...

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Age of the "Artisan Author"

"The community of SF writers has reason to dislike digital copying, or 'piracy' as it's commonly labelled in the tabloid press. Genre writers exist, by and large, in the publishing mid-list, where mediocre sales might seem most easily eroded by the spectre of illegitimate downloads. SF, fantasy and horror are also the literature of choice for the culture of geeks most likely to share their favourite authors' works on torrent sites. Not surprising, then, that many professional genre writers and editors respond to the growing reality of copying with the absolutist position that piracy is theft, and should be punished as such under the law.
     But SF writers are far from united in that position. Novelist, blogger and digital rights activist Cory Doctorow is well known for providing free digital copies of all his books as a marketing strategy, arguing that in a digital economy, obscurity is a far greater threat than piracy. Charlie Stross blogged such an effective argument against digital rights management on ebooks that it influenced at least one publishing imprint to drop DRM on its novels. And interviewed on the subject in 2011, Neil Gaiman, ever the gentleman, kindly points out that if you are a writer courting fans, screaming 'THIEF!' at them and threatening legal action for copying might be … counterproductive."
— Damien Walters, The Guardian
Read more…

Sunday, February 17, 2013

It was a dark and stormy night...

"Around the same time a devastating hurricane smashed and flooded its way up the East Coast, leaving millions homeless or without power, another storm collided into a professional subculture based in New York City. While the second storm is only metaphoric, the transformation of publishing could have far-reaching consequences not only for those who work on Union Square, but for readers and writers across the English-speaking world.
     As with Hurricane Sandy, it will take a little while to discern the long-term consequences of the Penguin and Random House merger, the news of which was somewhat obscured by the storm and the election. But the short-term impact is not pretty — and it follows other recent bad news from the books world. The Free Press, known primarily for smart, contentious nonfiction from Emile Durkheim and Francis Fukuyama but also the publisher of Aravind Adiga’s best-selling Indian novel The White Tiger, just collapsed. Several well-regarded editors are now out of jobs as the imprint is merged into Simon & Schuster.
     The Penguin and Random House merger would join two of the largest and most successful publishers in English. It’s likely to be completed late next year, and the new company will control more than a quarter of the global book trade.
     […]If you work in, say, journalism, or the music business, you’ve seen this kind of thing before: the erosion and then collapse of an industry, often after mergers and acquisitions announced with buzzwords – 'synergy'! – or reassurances that new ownership means that nothing significant will change because, after all, we really value the kind of work you people do. Will publishing continue to slide, gradually, or will it fall apart, like newspapers – which have lost approximately a third of their staffs since the recession and seen advertising revenue sink to 1953 levels — and record labels – where annual sales of the top-10 albums have gone from over 60 million to about 20 million in roughly a decade. Members of the creative class have been here, and it hasn’t worked out real well for them."
— Scott Timberg, Salon
Read more…

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The word is out... about Carrie Snyder


Join us on Sunday, May 26, 2013 (1 to 4 P.M.) at the Elora Centre for the Arts, 75 Melville Street, Elora for a relaxing yet thought-provoking afternoon of readings by Sonia Day, Terry Fallis, Carrie Snyder, Andrew Westoll, Ailsa Kay and Robert Rotenberg.
     For $20.00 (includes Reception) you get to enjoy readings by six of Canada's finest authors; a Q&A session; a "Schmooze-fest" replete with wine & appetizers… and BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS (Get them signed by the author[s].) courtesy of Roxanne's Reflections.

"[Carrie Snyder's] first book, Hair Hat, was nominated for a Danuta Gleed Award for Short Stories, and more recently was selected as one of five finalists for Canada Reads Independently: 2010. Carrie has also won a CBC Literary Award for short fiction (2006).
     A full-time mother to four children, she blogs as Obscure CanLit Mama. Carrie makes her home in Waterloo, Ontario."

Carrie Snyder's second book, The Juliet Stories, published by House of Anansi (March, 2012), was shortlisted for the 2012 Governor General's Award.

About The Juliette Stories:

"Snyder’s tone and style is vivid and compelling, and Juliet is both courageous and fragile in a perfectly believable 10-year-old way. She is a voracious reader and dreamer, rolling with the punches that get thrown her way. We can see the flaws in her parents’ marriage through her eyes, and the older and knowing voice never steps in and speaks to the reader.
     The young Juliet is exactly her age and utterly interesting in a way that is difficult to master in prose meant for adults. The tensions among the group of overly entitled Western activists seen through Juliet’s eyes are vivid and sometimes funny. Juliet writes a pleading letter to Ronald Reagan that offers a perfect snapshot of an intelligent child’s hopes for a better world in the 1980s. Nicaragua is a raucous adventure for Juliet and her brother Keith, and the heart-stopping moments of real potential danger are a thrill ride for the reader."
— Zoe Whittal, The Globe and Mail

Buy all of Carrie Snyder's books here...

And listen to her read from her latest works at the Elora Writers' Festival (Sunday, May 26 at the Elora Centre for the Arts).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Is there anybody going to listen to my story...

"Saturday is National Libraries Day [in the UK], a time when libraries will be celebrated up and down the country. But the mood in the north of England will be sombre, as Liverpool becomes the latest council to announce swinging cuts to its library service.
     With Newcastle already planning to close 10 of its 18 libraries, and the axe hanging over 14 of Sheffield's 27 community libraries, it emerged this week that Liverpool city council may have to close 10 out of 19 libraries. 'Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield seem to be the worst hit – all big inner city authorities with historic problems, and in the north as well, which does appear to be receiving disproportionate cuts,' said the award-winning Cheshire author and library campaigner Alan Gibbons, who was set to appear at an event in Newcastle to celebrate libraries and protest their closure with campaigners and other authors.
     Gibbons blamed the government's 'flawed and failing "austerity" programme' for putting 'local councils in a difficult position,' but also called on Liverpool city council 'not to become a placid conduit implementing the coalition government's drastic cuts.'
     'Communities need their libraries. Reading is the hallmark of a civilised society,' he said. 'Authors and library users will stand alongside their elected representatives in protesting against government cutbacks. We cannot support a council implementing such cuts in a way that will damage the educational, social and cultural opportunities of the people it represents.'"
— Alison Flood, The Guardian

Buy books by award-winning young adult fiction author Alan Gibbons here...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sylvia Plath (October 27, 1932 - February 11, 1963)

"It is exactly 50 years since influential poet Sylvia Plath took her own life at the age of 30. Known for her confessional-style, the American-born writer, once married to Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1982. To mark the February 11th anniversary, The Space is showing the BFI experimental short Lady Lazarus, made by film-maker Sandra Lahire in 1991. It is an intricately woven response to Plath’s readings of her own poetry. It includes extracts from Ouija, The Decline of Oracles, Cut, Daddy, Point Shirley, The Applicant, Lady Lazarus, Fever 103 and Ariel, which were recorded between 1957 and 1958."
The Space

Read more and view the 24 minute film Lady Lazurus (1991) by Sandra Lahire here...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"[…] she dyes her hair blonde, dons a plaid shirt and becomes the town whore of Avonlea."

From: Island Spirit PEI

"Anne of Green Gables, the orphan with the 'very thick, decidedly red hair' and the 'much freckled' face, has become a blonde, buxom farm girl with come-hither eyes on a new edition of LM Montgomery's classic novel, prompting a fierce reaction from fans of the story. […]
     'This book is supposed to be Anne Of Green Gables NOT Anne Does Green Gables! ' wrote one reader. Another pointed out that 'Anne has red hair. RED HAIR. It's a key part of her character and is a strong influence on her words and actions. Secondly, Anne is 10 at the start of the series. What is up with the bedroom eyes? Did they just do a Google image search for Sexy Farmgirl? Does anyone publishing this book have any idea of what the stories are actually about?' setting up a plea to 'keep Anne ginger.'"
— Alison Flood, The Guardian

"It's alive, it's alive..."

"We hear that for many writers, the characters they create 'come alive' during the writing process. But in what ways is that phrase more than a simple metaphor? And how is a writer supposed to manage the expanded household as it begins to fill up with progeny spilling over from the pages of a work in progress?
     My third novel, All the Light There Was, which is set in the Armenian community of Paris during the Nazi Occupation, took 10 years to research and write. […]
     While I was writing, I traveled back in time and across the ocean to Occupied Paris. I could not only hear the voices of my characters, but I could also feel the cold air seeping in the cracks around the window frames, and smell the dreaded rutabagas cooking in the kitchen. I fretted with Maral over her lack of bath soap, and shared the frustration of her cobbler father about his inability to get leather. But it wasn't until the day that my husband asked me why we had seven jars of mustard in the pantry that I realized how deep this shared experience had gone."
— Nancy Kricorian, Huffington Post
Read more…

Buy all of Nancy Kricorian's book here...

The word is out... about Andrew Westoll

Join us on Sunday, May 26, 2013 (1 to 4 P.M.) at the Elora Centre for the Arts, 75 Melville Street, Elora for a relaxing yet thought-provoking afternoon of readings by Sonia Day, Terry Fallis, Carrie Snyder, Andrew Westoll, Ailsa Kay and Robert Rotenberg.
     For $20.00 (includes Reception) you get to enjoy readings by six of Canada's finest authors; a Q&A session; a "Schmooze-fest" replete with wine & appetizers… and BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS (Get them signed by the author[s].) courtesy of Roxanne's Reflections.

"In my previous life, I worked as a primatologist, which is just a fancy word for someone who studies monkeys in the jungle. For one whole year, I was like a male version of Jane Goodall, minus the physical endurance, scientific breakthroughs and universal acclaim.
     I traded the real jungle for the concrete one a long time ago, but my experiences with wild animals still inform a lot of my work. Most of my writing explores one corner or another of our fraught, curious and ever-evolving relationship with the natural world.

My latest book is the national bestselling The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary, the true story of a remarkable family of chimpanzees who spent decades as test subjects in a medical research lab, and who are now slowly recovering in an animal sanctuary near Montreal. The Chimps won the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, was shortlisted for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, and was named a Book of the Year by the Globe and Mail,, Quill and Quire and CTV’s Canada AM."
— Andrew Westoll,
Read more…

More about Andrew Westoll's Charles Taylor Prize here...

Buy Andrew Westoll's book here...

And meet him in person at the Elora Writers' Festival on May 26.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Put off writing by reading this article about writer's block.

"I've helped many authors get past writer's block, and experienced it myself more than once as an author, blogger, and book reviewer. There seem to be two main causes: lack of inspiration and fear. I'll address the first one in this article, and save the other equally important cause for another day.
 — Margot Atwell, Huffington Post
Read more…

The word is out... about Sonia Day

Join us on Sunday, May 26, 2013 (1 to 4 P.M.) at the Elora Centre for the Arts, 75 Melville Street, Elora for a relaxing yet thought-provoking afternoon of readings by Sonia Day, Terry Fallis, Carrie Snyder, Andrew Westoll, Ailsa Kay and Robert Rotenberg.
     For $20.00 (includes Reception)  you get to enjoy readings by six of Canada's finest authors; a Q&A session; a "Schmooze-fest" replete with wine & appetizers… and BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS (Get them signed by the author[s].) courtesy of Roxanne's Reflections.
Tickets are available at Roxanne's Reflections website here... or by calling 519-843-4391

From: Toronto Botanical Garden

"Whoopee! My latest book, The Untamed Garden, A Revealing Look At Our Love Affair With Plants, is, literally, tops.
     At the U.S. based Garden Writers’ Association annual convention in Tucson, Arizona, it won the Gold Award — beating out all the other books, magazines, newspaper sections and electronic media in the awards program. As most of the 215 entries were American, it’s quite a coup, folks, for a 'mere' Canadian to achieve this. My book had already won Silver for Best Book, but we had to wait until Oct. 16 to hear which 'Best Overall Product' had nabbed the Gold.
     I felt immensely proud (and a bit surprised) as I heard my name called out at the awards banquet." — Sonia Day,
Read more…

Buy all of Sonia Day's books here...