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    Your Story

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Only 3 sleeps 'til Writers' Weekend 2013 kicks off. By now everyone’s calendars surely have February 2 circled many times over, but with the plethora of presentations we have lined up for Saturday we are still working hard to make sure nobody misses anything. And if there’s one thing this little Nook blog sometimes misses, IF, it might be the art of the biographical writer. I’m admittedly not the most well-balanced person. The walls of my tunnel bubble are covered in fiction with scraps of poetry lurking beneath, but without much expertise in the arts of non-fiction writing I usually keep a fair distance. Brian Brennan

    Considering how many people out there are quite likely very interested in writing memoirs and biographies, I feel kind a bad about my lack of focus on the wide world of the more personal, inward writer. Good news for me and for everybody out there interested in memoir and biography - our very first presentation of the day will come from an acclaimed historian, bestselling author, and award-winning journalist. You may also recognize Brian Brennan from his recent stint as the library's 2012 Writer-in-Residence. From September to December Mr. Brennan devoted his time to help many of us figure out the next steps to take in our writing lives, and this Saturday he is kicking off Writers' Weekend with "MY STORY" - a discussion of the art, craft, and fundamentals of memoir and biography writing.

    This presentation will run from 10 am to 11 am.


    To learn more about Brian Brennan visit his website at

    And here is a small sample of his work available on the shelves at your local library:

    The Good Steward: the Ernest C. Manning story The Calgary Public Library: inspiring life stories since 1912 Leaving Dublin: writing my way from Ireland to Canada

    Prairie Gothic

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    I haven't yet had a chance to immerse myself in George Webber's new collection of photography, Prairie Gothic, so I've been scouring the library's digital photograph collection to see what we have to contribute to a sense of local 'gothicness'. Below are my two favourites. Both are from the Alison Jackson Collection.


    My sense of gothic and your sense of gothic, like everybody's, probably differs. Especially since the only criteria for me seems to be a rolling sky over whatever object is pictured beneath it. Add an abandoned barn or creaky octopus ride and it's at the top of the list, automatic.

    I clearly need some authority on the subject.

    Luckily, two artists with a very strong sense for the meaning and pull of their prairie habitat have come together to produce the recently released PRAIRIE GOTHIC - a collection of photography by George Webber accompanied by the writing of Aritha Van Herk.

    I'm kind of hoping it's full of the slow, beautiful wreckage of abandoned barns, but it's likely much more than that.

    The photographer/author team will appear together this Sunday at Shelf Life Books for a photo presentation and reading. What better way to get to know this special collection than through the lens of the man who took the pictures and a writer who's been bringing our landscape to life for decades. The presentation starts at two pm. For complete details go the Shelf Life Books' event listings.

    Click here to place a hold on your library copy of Prairie Gothic.

    "George Webber’s poignant black-and-white photographs transport us into the forgotten, unknowable communities of the Canadian prairies. Throughout the journey, we’re confronted by the mysterious particulars of life, death, landscape and faith. Intimate portraits and the hard facts of the place are woven together to create a body of work that is by turns inspiring, consoling and sometimes achingly sad."

    Ask the Writer

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    WRITERS' WEEKEND 2013. Saturday February 2. 1 to 2 p.m.

    A pioneer of Calgary's punk music scene.

    The 2012 Colophon Prize winner.

    A GG-nominated short story master.

    Any questions?

    Lori Hahnel Deborah Willis Naomi K. Lewis

    We are thrilled and quite lucky to have these three experienced and masterful writers joining us for Writers' Weekend 2013. Don't miss the 1 - 2 p.m. presentation from Lori Hahnel, Naomi K. Lewis, and Deborah Willis as they take the stage for a dynamic question and answer session on the diverse elements of the writing process in the current publishing environment.


    Deborah Willis was born and raised in Calgary, AB. Her fiction has appeared in Grain, Event, Prism International, and The Walrus. Her first book, Vanishing and Other Stories, was named one of the the Globe and Mail's Best Books of 2009, and was nominated for the BC Book Prize and the Governor General's Award. She has worked as a horseback riding instructor, a reporter, and a bookseller. She was a writer-in-residence at Joy Kogawa House in Vancouver, BC, and is currently the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program writer-in-residence at the U of C.

    Naomi K. Lewis is an award-winning fiction and nonfiction writer. She was writer in residence at the Calgary Public Library throughout the fall of 2011, and her 2012 short story collection, I Know Who You Remind Me Of, won Enfield & Wizenty's 2012 Colophon Prize for Fiction.

    Lori Hahnel is the author of a novel, Love Minus Zero (Oberon, 2008) and a story collection, Nothing Sacred, (Thistledown, 2009), which shortlisted for an Alberta Literary Award. Her credits include CBC Radio, The Fiddlehead and Prairie Fire. She is marketing a second novel and working on more stories.

    Getting Your Book 'Covered'

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    When it comes to people we all know not to judge a book by its cover. It’s a simple matter of respect we all owe to one another. When it comes to actual books, and the actual time we have to choose, read, and enjoy them, we necessarily judge the living fudge out of their covers. It’s always, obviously, a matter of preference.

    Derek Mah, photo courtesy attoboy.comIn the perfect fantasy world of an aspiring writer (or the real world of self-publishing) we would all have full creative control over the cover of our award-winning books, but in reality the process required to achieve the perfect first impression, like most of the publishing process, is collaborative and mysterious.

    On Saturday, February 2 the final presentation of Writers’ Weekend 2013 will come from Calgary-based illustrator and book cover designer Derek Mah. He will take the stage at 3pm to enlighten us on the process of getting a book 'Covered'.

    Click here to register.

    You can find out all about Derek Mah's impressive body of work and technical genius at his website:

    Here is a small sample of his work on the shelves of your local library...

    Monsterology: fabulous lives of the creepy, the revolting, and the undead Mathemagick & Mystiphysics

    Villainology: fabulous lives of the big, the bad, and the wicked

    And while we're on the subject, here are my picks for the most enticing and beautiful book covers of 2012:

    When Captain Flint was Still A Good Man, by Nick Dybek A Million Heavens, by John Brandon

    Single Onion #101

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Gotta take a little break this week from the onslaught of preparations for Writers' Weekend 2013 to highlight Single Onion's first installment in a new season of their incredibly impressive lecture series.

    The first event in the series is happening this Thursday, January 17. It is being curated by Calgary's Poet Laureate Kris Demeanor and he is bringing in the songwriting genius of Geoff Berner to tackle the topic of "Poet as Songwriter".

    Where else could you possibly hear Sylvia Plath compared and contrasted to Jon Bon Jovi?

    For complete details go the Single Onion website.

    For Geoff Berner's music available at the library click the album cover below...

    Writing and Publishing Your Children's & YA Novel

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    One crucial strength of our annual Writers’ Weekend, an entire day dedicated to informing and inspiring Calgary writers, is that we try to offer something new every year. No matter how well received last year’s presentations were, we always get right back to work on making the next one better. After the first few years I can’t imagine how many comments and suggestions came back to us looking for more help on writing children’s books. After all, isn’t everybody working on their own children’s book? Isn’t everybody reading the most recent YA phenomenovel?

    We finally did it!

    This year marks the very first time we’ve been able to offer a session exclusively for writers working on the Children’s and YA novel and we are bringing in one of the very best in his field – Simon Rose.

    On Saturday, February 2, Mr. Rose will take the stage from 2 – 3pm to enlighten us on the transformation of idea into story, on getting started as a writer, and getting on the path to publication.

    Register for "Writing and Publishing Your Children's & YA Novel" here.

    Go to to learn more about his prolific career, which includes the publication of 7 novels, more than 20 non-fiction titles, and a tireless approach to workshop coaching, school presentations, and inspiring young and old writers alike all over town and far, far beyond.

    The Time Camera The Alchemist's Portrait The Doomsday Mask The Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction: Volume One

    Writers' Weekend 2013 - Ask the Editor

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    There's a lot to look forward to in the 2013 installment of Writers' Weekend. We've got presentations lined up all day long on Saturday, February 2 aimed at inspiring and informing writers of all kinds at any stage in their writing life. In the next few weeks I will take aim at each of the six presentations so that anyone who can't spend the entire day with us can plan accordingly and take as much advantage of the opportunities as possible.

    I wanted to highlight the twelve noon session first because I think this one might fill up really quick.

    One of the most mysterious aspects of the writing process is how the world of publishing works. How does that giant stack of paper get into the right hands, get read by the right person, and find its audience? And what does an editor do to help a writer get there?

    What questions do you have about the job of an editor? What mysteries of publishing do you need to solve?


    Book editor and writer Sandra McIntyre will take the stage at noon for an insightful question and answer session.

    Register here.

    You may already recognize Sandra from appearances on Breakfast Television or last year's Writers' Weekend.

    Previously, she was the managing editor of Atlantic Canada’s largest independent publisher, Nimbus Publishing, and started Nimbus’ fiction imprint, Vagrant Press. In 2007, she co-edited The Vagrant Revue of New Fiction and received the Halifax Mayor’s Award for Cultural Achievement in Literature. We are now anticipating the May 2013 release of a very exciting anthology - 'Everything Is So Political', featuring twenty short stories by Canadian writers that explore the intersection between politics and the contemporary short story. Check out a preview of the anthology from Roseway Publishing.

    To find out more about Sandra McIntyre go to

    For the complete lineup of Writers' Weekend presentations, click here.

    Want A Hot Date this Saturday?

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    There’s a lot to love about filling Station.

    They publish innovative work of emerging artists. They give local writers a stage, voice, and audience every month through the Flywheel reading series. They’re a volunteer-run non-profit that only seems to care about building and energizing Calgary’s literary community. And filling Station is a great, refreshing read.

    That’s why I got giddy excited when I found out the collective was bringing their new event – Hot Dates with Blank Pages – right here to the Central library. The idea of ‘Hot Dates’ is to get writers out of their dusty, dim-lit, cramped, coffee-stained, solitary workspaces and into some of Calgary’s most stimulating, inspiring spaces in the company of like-minded friends you didn’t know you already had. In the words of the fS website:

    Hot Dates with Blank Pages is a new literary event hosted by filling Station that will be held on the first Saturday of every month in different locales around Calgary, locales meant to get the creative juices flowing again.”

    The January installment of “Hot Dates with Blank Pages” is taking place this Saturday, January 5, at the Central library.

    For complete details, go the filling Station website. Issue 54