Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Brad Gushue visits Halifax

On November 8, Brad Gushue was in Halifax to promote Golden Gushue, a new book about his team's journey to their Olympic win in Torino, Italy. He had a few interviews including those with Rick Howe on CJCH Radio and Liz Rigney on Live at Five (pictured below) and then he was off to Chapters to sign books. There was a line of fans waiting for him when he showed up and he signed for almost two hours. Here are some pictures from his day in Halifax. To read about the rest of his four-city book tour, check out www.curlingzone.com where the books author, Alex J. Walling, has been tracking his progress.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Steve Vernon on Halloween

Hey folks, I have been so busy launching and signing and reading from Haunted Harbours: Ghost Stories From Old Nova Scotia that I haven’t had much of a chance to light and take a look around, but the good folks at Nimbus asked me to stick my beard in here and say a few words about Halloween, my favourite time of year.

The Celts had a word for this time of year. They called it Samhain, “Summer’s end”. How true this is. Halloween is the doorway between the summer and the winter and I pass through it with a grin and a bit of regret. Just yesterday, while crossing the street from Little Mysteries to the coffee shop, I was jumped by a few wandering snowflakes as a brief rain shower turned momentarily into a flurry. Before too long we’ll all be wielding snow shovels and toting bags of salt and rubbing our hands together and muttering angry words at the weatherman. It will be quiet downtown as the winter wears on. There won’t be as many tourists and business will relax (after Christmas, anyways).

But first, Halloween.

This is my favourite day of the year. I usually dress the house up with a homemade graveyard of famous horror authors and actors, a Frankenstein monster on a lab table complete with juice jug IVs, scarecrows, a flying witch and a big full moon, and whatever else my brain can come up with.

I remember the year I dressed as a hobo. I remember the year I dressed as a Frankenstein monster. I remember Halloween in the small town of Capreol, wearing good walking sneakers so as to cover as many blocks as possible. Filling pillowcases full of candy, and trying to look for the good houses, the ones that gave you chocolate bars and chips.

Halloween is a time of putting on masks, and we all wear so many of them. The mask you wear at work, and the mask you wear at the grocery store, some of them very close to each other, some of them so very different. Halloween is a time of year when we all can put on new masks and grin at each other and say “Trick or Treat.” Halloween is a time of year when kids are just a little closer to their childhood, and a little less hip or cool. It’s okay to dress up like an astronaut or a ghost or a Headless Horseman. Halloween is a time when we all remember when it was okay to play Tag and Hide and go Seek.

This Halloween I’ll be busy at three different readings at the Halifax Rehab (6:30 p.m.), the Seahorse (8 p.m.), and Ginger’s (10 p.m.). I’ll be telling tales and reading a bit of poetry and peddling the book, of course. A writer has to be three parts travelling salesman, ready with a grin, a spiel, and a happy pitch.

Well, I am off to go to a school this Halloween morning, to tell a ghost story and teach the kids a little bit about storytelling, and if you see a kid grinning from behind my beard with a pillowcase in his hand saying “Trick or Treat”, throw him a bag of potato chips or a good chocolate bar. No apples please, my grandmother will only make them into apple sauce.

Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Lesley Crewe

So just ask me how my weekend went…go ahead…ask me. Okay, I'll tell you. My husband, John, daughter, Sarah, and I went to Halifax for the weekend, where we picked up our son, Paul, and went to the Rolling Stones concert on Saturday night.
Get this. We stood…STOOD…with fifty thousand other idiots from 4:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m in the POURING RAIN.
We had a blast!! Once you're wet, you're wet. I mean, it was miserable and we all wore garbage bags over our rain clothes and had a huge tarp around us, and our clothes will never be the same again, and our hair will never be the same again, and our feet will never be the same again, but how often do you bond as a family like that? All four of us singing (badly) "I can't get no…satisfaction!!" as Mick Jagger gyrated his bony hips about forty feet away! (The stage came towards us at one point and they got closer and closer…I thought I was hallucinating with all the weed in the air.)
It'll be a great story in fifty years…just about when I recover from the ordeal!
I apologize for digressing. I'm supposed to be writing about Word on the Street.
So just ask me how my weekend went…go ahead…ask me. Okay I'll tell you. I was reading from my new book Shoot Me at the Word on the Street Festival the next day. Since I was stuffed up from my bonding experience the night before, my voice was a little cracky and weird, but everyone in Halifax sounded the same way, so who cared.
And of course my children were supposed to attend the reading, and they sort-of did. Sarah was pacing outside the building on a cell phone trying to give directions to her three girlfriends who'd parked about two miles away by mistake and were running along the Halifax waterfront to try and get there on time, and Paul and his girlfriend had just woken up after John called him to say "where are you?" The answer wasn't supposed to be "in bed."
So three-quarters of the way through the reading I'm trying not to be aware that my out-of-breath children are running through the venue with friends and significant others in tow. To make up for it, they plunked themselves into the front seats and clapped vigourously as I said, "Thank you for coming" and walked off the stage.
It's a good thing a mother's love knows no bounds.
Not that something like that is very special for them. I've been reading to them since they were in the womb and I'm sure they're heartily sick of it. As Sarah's friends apologized to me afterwards, I told them not to be ridiculous and I can read to them any old time they want. Strangely, they all started yammering to Sarah and the subject was dropped.
I'm starting to get the hang of these things. After a year in the "business" and with my second book to flog, I'm not as freaked out about having to show up for these events any more. Once upon a time I assumed I'd run away in a flood of tears if no one showed up for a reading or a signing.
And it has happened.
 I had two people come for a reading in New Glasgow on the most glorious Friday evening in early summer. Believe me, if I didn't have to go I wouldn't have been there either. But I had the nicest time. Just me, the librarian, the bookseller (whose children won't be attending university), my husband, the two ladies and the camera guy. (Yes, it was taped. Just me and the empty seats.)
And then there was the signing in the dead of summer in Antigonish. It happened during the Lobster Festival weekend, which everyone in the surrounding counties waits all year for, apparently.
I became fast friends with the mall's security guard.
But it's all part of this wonderful journey. I was thrilled to be asked to read at Word on the Street. What a pleasure to be surrounded by people who love books and who love to read and who work so hard to promote reading. I still have to pinch myself when I realize that I'm now on the other side of the desk, actually signing books instead of just buying them. To meet other writers and know that I am one of them now, is just sinking in.
I have satisfaction up the yin yang.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Maureen Hull's Advice to Aspiring Writers

1. Read: widely, cross-genre, garbage to High Lit. Every book you pick up on how to write, and every workshop instructor you meet, will tell you this, because it's important.
2. Put your coffee mug on the floor. If you put it on your desk, sooner or later you'll knock it into a pile of papers or, worse yet, onto your keyboard. Could be expensive.
3. Don't answer the phone or the door when you're writing. You're not available. They'll get back to you.
4. Get some fresh air. Open a window. Stretch. Walk around the block. Sit on a park bench and blow bubbles.
5. Confess to yourself: I want to be published, many times; I want to make so much money at it that I can just write and never work at another job in my life; I want a housekeeper to cook and clean, efficiently and very quietly; I want to spend two months every winter under a palm tree with my laptop on a wicker table nearby in case I feel inspired.
6. Admit to yourself that this is never going to happen. Probably. Then go back to writing.
7. Acquire a skill that will bring in enough cash to support yourself and your writing habit. Acquire a patron (they may be extinct) and then let me know how you did it. If you buy lotto tickets—don't kid yourself.
8. Join a writers' group and/or a writers' organization. Take a few workshops. You need support and information, and those are the places you'll find it. Share what you learn. Writers need allies. Get some; be one.
9. Have a real life. Appreciate the planet—it's gorgeous—and try to see some of it firsthand. Take care of important relationships and make some effort to stay healthy. You can use parts of your real life in your writing, but don't make writing the whole of your real life or you won't have one.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Monica Graham

So here I sit, writing. Or I’m supposed to be, but the sun is shining, the kayaks are stacked on the roof of the car, and I’d rather be paddling—or anywhere but plopped on my butt in front of a computer screen.

…Oops. Was that me who just wrote that?

I shouldn’t have. Honestly. I do what I love to do—write—but there are days when I wish I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Then I’d never have to worry about writing enough to get paid, how much I’m going to get paid, when I’m going to get paid—or even if I’m going to get paid.

“Independently wealthy”—I think that’s what you call it.

Never mind. Of more importance right now is a looming deadline and writer’s block, two colliding clichés. What’s another word for…oh, look—is that a woodpecker outside my window? I’d better go look it up. Where’s the bird book?

Ok, here it is. No, it’s a yellow-bellied sapsucker. What a nice name. Oh, well. Back to the salt mine.

Where was I?

Maybe this is old age, when I can’t remember some words, and I can’t forget others—like yellow-bellied sapsucker.

I think I’m hungry. Or maybe I’m thirsty. I know one thing, I can’t sit in this chair a moment longer.

So now it’s three hours later, not very long when compared to the age of the universe, but an eon closer to deadline.

I’m damp and tired, and my hair is sticky from salt spray, because instead of sitting at my desk, I sat in my kayak at the door of the sunset. I followed the sun’s red road west, and when the waves got a bit too scarily high, I turned around and surfed in the other direction. In the cove’s shelter, the water was a smooth green mirror, and twin upside-down tornadoes trailed along each paddle blade. I never noticed that before.

Enough of that. It sounds a bit too much like I’m a character in a Margaret Atwood story—not that I’ve got anything against Margaret Atwood, but I want to write my own stuff and be just as famous. Ha.

I tried paddling fast enough to leave a wake.

Then I tried drifting to see where the wind and waves and tide would take me, which was precisely nowhere. I started a kayak’s length from a harbour buoy, and fifteen minutes later I was still there. As inspiration or as metaphor, it just didn’t work.

I considered watching the sun sink all the way below the horizon, but realized that would leave me loading the kayak on the roof rack in the dark, which is an exasperating exercise.

How practical I’m getting. Maybe I’m just too practical today to be inspired.

So as the sky changed to that odd maritime shade of pink-blue-gold, I paddled back to reality. It was dark when I got home, so I left the boat on the roof.

I might need it again tomorrow.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Welcome to the Nimbus blog

Here you can learn about upcoming books, events, and author tours. Also pictures of office dogs.