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  • Nov 19 - Writing Rogues & Rascals - One more chance to get some work done with the Library's 2014 Writer In Residence, Rosemary Nixon
  • Nov 5 - Come Write In - At home where the Wrimotaurs roam
  • Oct 31 - One Book - Marcello Di Cintio launches One Book One Calgary this Saturday
  • Oct 16 - Pre-NaNo Planning - Saturday, October 25: Dig your fingers in for 50,000 words
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    The Finishing Touches

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    So you’ve successfully locked out your inner editor for an entire month to focus entirely on the production of pure, forward, relentless output. Whether you come out of National Novel Writing Month with 50,000 words or fifty, whether your rough draft needs a complete makeover or minor tweaking, the time will come to figure out what kind of structure the plot, characters, and settings you’ve created need in order to reach their absolute full to the brim potential.

    In most cases, unless you're William Faulkner, this is the hard part.

    Luckily, there is no shortage of places to turn to for help.

    Right here at the Central Library a group of aspiring writers meets once a month to share their work. While turning to family and friends for a critical read might result in some of the glorious praise you deserve, you'll benefit a lot more from a fresh set of critical eyes at our Creative Writing Club. Registration for the new season will begin December 17 and is limited to 40 participants.

    Unfortunately, the library's 2012 Writer-in-Residence season with Brian Brennan has ended, but watch out for Mr. Brennan at this year's Writers' Weekend, the library's annual day dedicated to aspiring Calgary writers, featuring free presentations all day long from local experts. Details remain tba on Writers' Weekend 2013 - I shouldn't even be talking about it - but I will say that it's happening February 2 and registration will begin December 17.

    Until the library's next Writer-in-Residence is announced, there are other residencies available:

    Deborah Willis will be in residence at the University of Calgary until June 15, 2013, through the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program.

    Lori Hahnel will begin a residency at the Alexandra Writers Centre Society in May 2013.

    The Alexandra Writers Centre Society also offers a wide range of writing courses year round, as well as a Manuscript Review Service.

    The list of resources available to Calgary writers seems to grow every day, and the more I search the more I find, so I certainly won't attempt to mention them all here now. But remember to take a break from the brain pounding work once in a while to enjoy the work of local authors making a difference in Calgary's literary scene, paving the way. I will do my best to pass along every exciting event I hear about, here at the Nook, and in the meantime please visit the upcoming events listing of two of Calgary's favorite literary venues:

    Pages Books on Kensington.

    Shelf Life Books.

    In terms of events, we might see a bit of downtime around the holiday season, which makes it the perfect time to check out some of our favorite, most useful of books for writers that landed on library shelves in 2012...

    Escaping into the Open, by Elizabeth Berg Wired for Story, by Lisa Cron Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript (Writer's Digest)

    2013 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market

    Interview With A Wrimotaur

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    It's a busy time for anyone involved in November's NaNoWriMo, especially the amazing volunteer Municipal Liaisons who work their tails off to create a special experience for writers in their region. MLs are veteran Wrimos who organize in-person meet-ups and parties, send out regular pep-filled emails, answer questions, and generally serve as the cheerleaders for the region and beyond. Here in Calgary we are lucky to have the leadership of two MLs: Naiya Azurewater and Xanateria.

    Click here for Calgary's regional website (www.calgarynano.ca).

    Xanateria recently took the time out of her busy schedule to enlighten us on the expansive, welcoming world of NaNoWriMo, in Calgary and beyond...

    _________

    WRITER’S NOOK: The basis of National Novel Writing Month seems straight-forward, to produce a short novel in the month of November with the support of hundreds of thousands of people, but in its thirteenth year NaNoWriMo has grown to become much more. Can you tell us why the project has been so successful?

    XANATERIA: One of the great things about NaNoWriMo is that it means so many different things to participants. But, the results are about more than just words on a page. As a municipal liaison, I’ve seen teens find the sheer joy of writing for pleasure, and develop a real love of the written word. The structure of NaNoWriMo allows many participants to finally let go of the idea that what they write must be perfect. Stripped of the ability to be their own worst critic, participants who honestly believe they aren’t creative at all get to experience the magic of telling their story. That can be a powerful mechanism for change. And that’s the biggest benefit of all, I think. Crossing the NaNoWriMo finish line is often a huge confidence boost. For a person who didn’t think they could manage 5000, managing 50,000 makes them ask, if I can do that, what else could I accomplish? And that confidence spills over to all areas of life, not just creative endeavors.

    WN: Last I checked there were 2,489 members signed up in the Calgary region, which seems like a strong response (even though Edmonton is beating us, per capita, yikes!). What can Calgarians look forward to by getting involved in their regional NaNoWriMo group?

    XT: Writing is often seen as a solitary undertaking. For NaNoWriMo Calgary, nothing could be further from the truth. We have a core group of die-hard regulars, with more enthusiastic newcomers every year. We welcome any person who wants to attend, regardless of the challenges they face. All our in-person events are held in venues accessible to people with disabilities, and you will never find participants who are more welcoming and friendly.

    The Office Of Letters and Light, the organization that runs NaNoWriMo, only requires us to host a Kick Off Event, a Thank Goodness It’s Over (TGIO) party, and one in person write-in per week.

    Due to demand from our members, we take things a bit farther. There’s Newcomers Night (held in October to help lessen panic and confusion for first-timers), a Midnight Kick-Off held on Halloween Night, a Midway Bash, 2 in-person write-ins per week, and a Marathon Write-In (at least 8 hours). For those who can’t make it to in-person events, there are also 2 virtual write-ins per week, held in the regional chat room.

    Needless to say, my co-municipal liaison and I don’t get a lot of sleep until after TGIO. But, even after that, our members enjoy our in-person events so much; we now meet once a month year-round. Our members have formed lasting friendships, even a few romances, but more importantly, we support each other every step of the way. For example, a few years ago, one of our members was already behind, and then lost a big chunk of work on the final day of the month. Upset and discouraged, he logged into chat to share that he had given up. His fellow Wrimotaurs lifted his flagging spirits and took turns cheering him on. He’d come to enough events that people knew how important finishing NaNo was to him. Those in the chat recruited each new arrival to help until he crossed the finish line a winner. Quite simply, they wouldn’t let him quit.

    The same is true at in-person events. Any time you are stuck in a scene, someone has ideas how to help you get out. If you are lacking motivation, someone will help you find more (and probably hand you caffeine).

    WN: Libraries are the ultimate place to write… The leisure and domestic distractions of home are eliminated, the calm-yet-lively atmosphere nurtures focus, and you surround yourself with all the glorious material you could ask for in terms of research and inspiration. Is there anything else about the library that makes it the perfect place for participants of NaNoWriMo?

    XT: It’s true that the library means you have fewer distractions and plenty of research material (though some of our participants would say researching is the ultimate distraction), there are a couple of other good reasons Wrimos write at the library. For one thing, like our participants, there are library branches all over the city. Branches are accessible, and come with friendly staff who can help you put your hands on the right material much faster than many of us can on our own. And unlike some other venues, libraries are filled to the brim with people who love the written word, so are much less likely to minimize, or even ridicule, your fantastic literary undertaking. As much as I love NaNo, I’ve seen how hard it can be when friends or family just don’t see the value in trying it. The library gives you another option to find a supportive environment.

    WN: What is the difference between a Wrimo and a Wrimotaur ?

    XT: Wrimo refers to any person, worldwide, who participates in NaNoWriMo. The regional group here in Calgary chose a mascot who is a cross between a writer and a Minotaur. So, our participants are known as the Calgary Wrimotaurs.

    WN: What do you have to say to stubborn, old-dog type of writers who are going to write their brains out all month long regardless of November and would rather not get distracted by the goal of a 50,000 word count? What will I miss out on?

    XT: Well, for one thing, you would lose the chance to meet the most dynamic group of writers I’ve ever been privileged to meet. But as one of their leaders, you might think I’m biased on that score. Seriously though, the true benefit of NaNoWriMo is not the 50,000 word goal. Rather, it’s the idea that in order to meet it, you must lock up your inner editor, put writing first (for at least the month), and put the words on the page. In fact, many of our Wrimotaurs set goals both below or far above the 50,000 mark. NaNo is a self challenge, so any number that challenges you personally would do just as well. We have some members who do a double NaNo, and pull off 100k, and others move up to triple and beyond. Others, who have multitudes of jobs, school, or children set their goal to 10k, or a half NaNo and are perfectly content with that.

    During NaNo, what you produce might not be literary gold, but the lack of pressure to be perfect can pave the way for higher productivity. Experts say it takes 30 days for an action to become a habit, so if you participate in NaNo you will hopefully have made writing every day a habit. Even if you plan to write all month, it can still be very difficult to make writing a priority in an already busy life. The magical thing about NaNoWriMo is that it gives you an easy way to explain why you have put writing ahead of all the other obligations. Granted, your friends might forget what you look like and your laundry pile might be mistaken for a mountain, but in the NaNo world, that’s considered normal.

    __________

    Xanateria (who also answers Josie or Josiah on Facebook) first attempted NaNo in 2005, but didn’t log her first win until 2006, when she discovered the hugely supportive community in Calgary. When she’s not helping pull NaNo together every year, she works as a home support worker for seniors and enjoys spending time online reading far too much fanfiction. For those of you who have yet to meet her, she is easy to pick out: just look for the mobility assistance service dog in the bright red harness next to her. Look as much as you want, but please don’t touch: Declan is adorable, we know, but he is working and needs to be left alone.

    Food for the Gods—our interview with Karen Dudley

    by Janice - 0 Comment(s)

    Calgary-born and raised Karen Dudley is coming to our fair city to read from her fifth novel, Food for the Gods. Karen graciously took some time out of her busy schedule (and from recovering from the flu) to answer a few questions for the Nook.


    WRITER’S NOOK: Karen, you are an established mystery writer with four titles in the Robyn Devara series. Why the departure from the mystery genre with Food for the Gods? (and what genre is that one anyhow? historical fantasy mystery?)

    Karen: I've always loved the sci-fi/fantasy genre, but as a writer, I was a bit intimidated by it at first—all that world-building seemed so daunting and I didn't think I couldn't do justice to the genre.

    Fast forward four mystery novels and I was feeling a lot more confident about myself as a writer. Then one day, my husband and I were reorganizing our books. When I finished doing mine, I stood back and looked at them all. I had three full ceiling-to-floor bookcases of sci-fi/fantasy and a half a shelf of mystery. My husband came up behind me and stood there for a minute, then asked, "So...why are you writing mystery exactly?"

    In actual fact, when I started writing Food for the Gods, I thought I was writing a mystery. I had about 50 pages written when a friend of mine read it and told me, "Karen, you're writing a fantasy." I was shocked. I was a mystery writer! How could I be writing fantasy? But once I defined it as such, it was absolutely liberating and all kinds of weird and wonderful things began to happen. Food for the Gods is technically an historical fantasy, though it's also very humorous which is uncommon for the genre.

    NOOK: How was your writing (or researching) process different with Food for the Gods than with the Robyn Devara books?

    Karen: I've always loved the research end of writing, so I have always chosen projects that required a lot of research. I think the obvious difference in the research I've done for Food for the Gods versus the Robyn Devara novels is in the scope of it. When you're writing historical fantasy, there is a certain onus to get the historical details right. For me, this meant researching the entire culture of Classical Athens: the society, the politics, the fashions, the lifestyles. What was popular back then? What was considered rude or ominous or funny? What foods were available and/or popular? What cooking techniques were used? How did people behave at dinner parties? How did they behave in public places? What did Athens look like? I had to research all this as well as the mythological elements. It was a lot of fun!

    NOOK: Your online bio refers to your background in archaeology and Classical Studies, which obviously helped inform this new book. How much did this help with writing Food for the Gods?

    Karen: I minored in Classical Studies at university, and obviously that stood me in good stead for this project. In fact, the spirit of Food for the Gods was heavily influenced by my Greek history professor, Dr. Buck.

    The man really brought the Classical period to life for me. Whenever he talked about the reasons behind a war, he always started off by saying something like, "Well, when someone steals your women and cattle, you're liable to get a little cross about the whole thing." He wouldn't just give us dates and places for these armed conflicts, he'd act them out, marching up and down the classroom like a hoplite, talking the whole time about how 'cross' they all were with each other. He did tell us things like who won the Battle of Salamis and why, but he also told us about stuff like Alcibiades and the incident of the Theban dancing girls. He made it real. And when I decided to write Food for the Gods, I knew I wanted to make it real in the same way that he had.

    NOOK: How did you accomplish this?

    Karen: I didn't want my readers to feel the distance of history. I wanted them to feel like they were in the story, in that world. Like the characters really aren't that different from themselves. One of my favourite movies is A Knight's Tale, and so I decided to use anachronisms much in the same way that A Knight's Tale did. My characters speak with modern accents and use modern idioms. They have contemporary sensibilities. You can slide right into their lives and it doesn't require a shift in thinking.

    Another challenge for me was how to get across certain information about the society and culture without slowing down the narrative. My solution was to incorporate a series of interstitial chapters throughout the book. There are recipes, advertisements for products, even excerpts from self-help scrolls. They're very humorous, but they also impart some rather crucial information about life in Classical Athens.

    NOOK: Speaking of recipes: you've included some in this in book...do you have a favourite?

    Karen: Ah yes, the recipes! There a couple of recipes in the book. My main character, Pelops, is troubled by a rival chef named Mithaecus (The Sicilian), and I've included one of Mithaecus' recipes in the book. It's not a very good recipe (of course—he IS the rival chef, after all!), but what's interesting about it is that it is one of the earliest surviving published recipes. Mithaecus of Sicily was a real person—and a famous chef of his time.

    My favourite recipe in the book, however, has to be Pelops' Fig and Goat Cheese Appetizers. Mmmm...fresh figs stuffed with goat cheese and mint, wrapped in prosciutto and grilled ‘til the prosciutto is crispy. Then you drizzle 'em with honey. Oh man, my mouth is watering; I have to go and cook now...

    NOOK: What's next for you?

    Karen: I'm currently working on the sequel to Food for the Gods. It's even more fun that the first book and I'm finding myself laughing out loud (which rarely happens when you write!). I love the book, I love the premise and I love the title: Kraken Bake. It's due to for release in early spring 2014.


    A huge thanks to Karen for answering our questions. Be sure to go to one (or both!) of her two upcoming Calgary readings along with author Chadwick Ginther (reading from Thunder Road):

    November 19th at the Sentry Box at 7 pm

    November 20th at 7 pm, Louise Riley Library



    Interested in Karen Dudley's Robyn Devara mystery series? Check them out below:

    National Novel Writing Month - Halfway There!

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    While we like to think that every day this month has been a "NaNoWriMo day", we are now coming up on the midway mark and that means that the official 'NaNo Day at the Calgary Public Library' is coming up really quick. This Saturday, November 17th, the Central library offers two fantastic presentations from noon to three pm and there are still spots left in the eBook or Print? session from author and book promoter extraordinaire Susan M. Toy. She will be here at twelve noon to discuss the many changes in promotion and marketing that have occurred since the rise of eBooks and the new ways of delivering books to readers.

    If you've been to any of the library's Writer's Weekend seminars in the past you know there is no better person to get advice on the production, marketing, and promotion of your work than Susan Toy. If you haven't met Susan at any of our Writer's Weekends, go directly to this website:

    Susan M. Toy, Literary Consultant

    ...and then get yourself registered for one of the few remaining spots in Saturday's convergence of Calgary Wrimotaurs.

    HAPPY NANO DAY!


    CALGARY'S REGIONAL WEBSITE - www.calgarynano.ca

    A Single Onion, A Hundred Nights

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Single Onion #100:

    WHEN:

    Saturday, November 17. 7.00 PM

    WHERE:

    Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Centre

    (1320-5th Ave NW)

    _____________________________

    Remember that poetry contest we told you about over the summer, the one where the finalists would have a chance to share the stage in celebration of Single Onion’s 100th event and battle over $1,450 in prize money?

    Well, we are now only a week away from Single Onion #100 so I have another chance to post this beautiful "inside-a-tree" picture. And while the celebration of Calgary's longest-running spoken word reading series' 100th event is enough to get any of us out to the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Centre next Saturday, let me also assure you that the quality of performers coming out includes some of the cream of Calgary's crop...

    WEYMAN CHAN JASON CHRISTIE KIRK RAMDATH

    For complete details please visit the Single Onion website.

    And don't miss the warm-up, Single Onion #99, two nights prior, at UBU Bistro!