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    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

    A Writer's Resolutions

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    The ultimate resolution that writers gravitate towards at the end of every year seems to be: 'Make More Time to Write'. Sounds like a great idea, but if I’m looking for a resolution I’m actually going to keep I’m going to stay way far away from the impossible task of fabricating time. Days may be getting longer as we roll into the new year, but only in terms of light. We’re not gonna see any 25-hour days or 8-day weeks in 2013, so I’m gonna fall back on the two promises I can never seem to keep:

    - READ MORE -


    Catching up on the long list of books I must read should be an easy one to follow through on, but this promise is not to be taken lightly. Anyone who has ever sought advice on writing has surely heard in the darkest bold letters – READ. Whether it’s the type of work you strive to create or the complete opposite, there’s nothing more important to a writer’s development than devouring as much literature as possible. Makes sense. Want to be a chef? Taste a lot of food, understand what makes it delicious. Want to be an athlete? Play a lot of sports to develop the right muscles and figure out the game’s structure.


    Unless you aren't sure what to read next. But the library has the answer for that - NEXTREADS - a booklist newsletter service that sends customized reading suggestions directly to your inbox. Stay on top of all the latest greatest releases in your selected field and discover exciting new authors.

    Getting out to more local literary events is a sweet, easy resolution too. For the most part we engage in a necessarily solitary process but somewhere along the way the support of community, however you define community, is essential. Every week in Calgary there is at least one author reading, one group meeting, one book launch, or one opportunity to meet like-minded individuals in a stimulating environment, often a pub. I just found out today that filling Station magazine is bringing their next installment of "Hot Dates with Blank Pages" right here to the Central library on Saturday, January 5.

    Here in the Writer's Nook we are always looking out for next week's best-looking events so if your resolutions look anything like mine, I will hopefully see you out there. And please leave a comment if I'm missing any of the shows and events you're excited about. And happy new year!

    Writers' Weekend 2013

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    How can I reach a larger audience?

    What does an editor do?

    How can I get an audience, at all?

    Should I self-publish?

    What font should my manuscript be submitted in?

    What is an oxford comma?

    How can I improve my writing?


    No matter what stage your writing life is at, what type of writing you work on, or what you hope to accomplish with it, there will be questions. The answers aren't always easy to find and even when you think you've got things figured out there's a good chance of finding another, different answer in our rapidly changing, information overloaded world.

    Lovingly devoted to Calgary's aspiring (and established) writers, the library wants to help.

    We do this every winter: round up as many local experts as possible in the John Dutton Theatre for a full day of free, inspirational presentations. This year our Writers' Weekend will take the stage Saturday, February 2 and registration has just begun. Every year I say there's no way we'll be able to top last year, and then we do. Here's the lineup for Writers' Weekend 2013:

    My Story - Writing Memoir and Biography

    Join Brian Brennan, acclaimed historian, best-selling author, and award-winning journalist as he discusses the art, craft, and fundamentals of memoir and biography writing. 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. REGISTER.

    Engaging An Audience Through Online Writing

    Join Lonnie Taylor, Huffington Post Canada blogger, for an introduction to connecting to an audience through social media platforms in creative ways. 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. REGISTER.

    Ask the Editor

    Join book editor Sandra McIntyre for an insightful question and answer session about what editors do and how publishing works. 12:00 - 12:30 p.m. REGISTER.

    Ask the Writer

    Join experienced writers Lori Hahnel, Naomi Lewis, and Debbie Willis for a dynamic question and answer session on the diverse elements of the writing process in the current publishing environment. 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. REGISTER.

    Writing and Publishing your Children's and YA Novel

    Join acclaimed writer Simon Rose and learn how to turn ideas into stories, get started as a writer and get on the path to publication. 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. REGISTER.

    Covered - Clothing for your Book

    Join Derek Mah, celebrated illustrator and book cover designer, for insight into the collaborative process required to achieve the perfect first impression for your book. 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. REGISTER.

    You can also register for any or all of these sessions by calling 403-260-2620 or in-person at your local branch.

    Stay tuned for all my upcoming blogs on this year's presenters!

    filling Station's Flywheel

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Tomorrow night, the first night after no living person will see three identical numbers marking the date, is also the second Thursday of December. And the second Thursday of every month is the day when filling Station magazine takes over the upstairs of Pages bookstore for the Flywheel reading series.

    If you aren't familiar with filling Station, this homegrown, 100% volunteer-run magazine focuses on the support of local emerging writers and the publication of innovative poetry, fiction, and non-fiction (creative non-fiction, reviews, articles, interviews...).

    The best way to learn more about this wonderful situation would be to either go check it out in person tomorrow night for the...


    "...the last flywheel of the year with readings from Alberta writers:

    Judith Pond, Jani Krulc, Jason Lee Norman, and Patrick Horner!"

    Thursday, December 13th
    7:30 PM
    Pages on Kensington
    (1135 Kensington Drive NW)

    ...or come down to the Central library where you'll find issues of filling Station new and old, as well as a full selection of all the amazing literary magazines coming out from all over Canada.

    Canada Writes

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's annual 'Canada Writes' competition has opened their mailbox to submissions of Creative Nonfiction. Besides an impressive award of $6,000 dollars for the winner this competition also boasts the offering of a two-week residency at The Banff Centre's Leighton Artists' Colony. Pretty sweet stuff for the writer who can produce a winning entry.

    The nature of Creative Nonfiction can be an elusive beast, ranging in form from the personal essay to feature articles, which is what makes this competition such an alluring invitation. From the Canada Writes website, the CBC describes the criteria as "memoir, biography, humour writing, essay (including personal essay), travel writing, and feature articles. While the events must be real and the facts true, creative nonfiction conveys your message through the use of literary techniques such as characterization, plot, setting, dialogue, narrative, and personal reflection".

    In the endeavour to produce the best 1,200 - 1,500 words possible your library awaits, housing all the guidance, inspiration, and source material you need for a confident, glowing submission. While the form allows a writer extreme freedom in the choice of topic there is one part of Nonfiction that's pretty strict: the facts. Having stamped myself strictly a writer of fiction, it's pretty easy to let research sit on the backburner, or make something up, to make way for uninterrupted forward progress in a narrative. But if I did have a research question slowing me down I know exactly what I would do: send it to the library via the 'Ask A Question' service. Here at Central we are constantly tackling tough research questions and nothing makes the job more rewarding (at least for this particular Reference Assistant) than freeing up time for writers so they can get back to the tap-tapping.

    If it isn't research assistance you need, but fundamentals, try some of these new titles:

    Storycraft, by Jack Hart Crafting the Personal Essay, by Dinty Moore The Lifespan of a Fact, by John D'Agata You Can't Make This Stuff Up, by Lee Gutkind

    With the fundamentals in place, and a librarian working on your fact check, you might need some inspiration. Here's some of our recent favorites from the world of non-fiction:

    Walls, by Marcello Di Cintio Magic Hours, by Tom Bissell Slice Me Some Truth: an anthology of Canadian Creative Non-Fiction

    If you've got your fundamentals, facts, and inspiration, wouldn't six grand and two weeks in the mountains be nice?

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