Thursday, May 7, 2009


Is it May??? Really? How is that possible? I'm hopeless at this blogging thing. I actually blog a lot in my head.

Um...exciting things that have happened lately, you ask? I was nomintated for three Manitoba Book Awards - Most Promising Writer, Winnipeg Book Award and Best First Book. I managed to snag one. I was so convinced I would not, not, not win that I didn't even contemplate what I would say and went shoe shopping. That seemed like a much more productive use of my limited time. So when I WON the Best First Book Award my shoe gave a pretty crappy speech. Ah well.

Another highlight in my life as of late is that McNally contacted me and they are going to put my mug shot up there on the wall with all those fantastic writers. It's been kind of a personal dream of mine my whole life. And I'm really hoping that they don't change their mind about it.

I was in New York last week...and I should lie and say I had meetings with Vanity Fair and the like about my book being featured...but the truth is I was a full on tourist. But I told two New Yorkers on the ferry ride the Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty that I wrote a book. Does that justify the trip?

There is rumour and talk of a potential Prairie Bridesmaid movie. How great would that be. I think I will audition for the role of Anna...oh wait...I played that role for ten years. Never mind.

My excuses for not blogging are many...the baby in my belly is sucking ALL of my energy. Did I mention it's a girl. Oskar, my two year old, announced yesterday that "sister" would be living in the house two doors over and we could visit her if we wanted. Hmmm....I can see this is all going to go very well. I've also caught every single cold, bug flu ...well except the "you know what flu" that has been making rounds this winter.

And I'm madly trying to get the first draft of my second novel written before July. This goal is looking more and more hopeless. But I still wake at 5 am everyday to write as though it's a possibility.

Ahhh life.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Books & Babes

Where the hell have I been? Good question. If anyone knows, let me know. All of a sudden it's March and the paperback has been released. Huh?

Okay, I've been at a kabillion bookclubs this winter. Check out these bridesmaid cookies Shannon Burns made for her book club! As I stuff shrimp crackers down my throat it is so flattering to see how passionate and excited people are about this book. Really, it is!

The hard cover of the novel is gonzo so now you can save yourself ten bucks and buy it in trade paper...or just borrow it from someone and photocopy it.

I'm trying to write a second novel (and no, it's not a sequel!), but it seems I've gotten myself pregnant - well not to lay blame, but I think my husband is technically responsible. While this is very exciting, I've been off coffee and booze which makes the act writing excruciating...and I suspect the product quite bad. We'll see what agent, publisher and editor have to say. Ultimately though, I don't think "babies in progress" and writing are very congruent. Eating ice cream and napping are always sooooooo much more appealing than hammering away at my laptop. This is also another lame excuse for not attacking my blog. At any rate... I forge ahead and will hopefully finish a first draft by early summer. Which comes first - baby or book? The race is on.

I drove my parents to the airport for their annual tourista trek to the wristbands & free-drink capital of the western world - Peurta Vallarta. My dad proudly showed me his copy of The Prairie Bridesmaid that he plans to read on the beach. Seriously dad, 7 months later, you're going to read my book? Well, at least he's reading it - which is more than I can say for my bro. I know, I hold very unreasonable expectations for my familia. At the very least, I might be responsible for ruining a cheap Mexican vacation.

Mocha pecan in the freezer section at Safeway calls...but I'm excited about the release of the paperback, pending spring, my blooming belly, my not-so-blooming second book and of course the act of blogging. I'm back.

Daria Zmiyiwsky's book club

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tis the Season...

Ah, dear blog I have neglected you. I think it's because I'm trying to not drink (so much), and there's a strong correlation between my drinking and my writing. So if this blog stinks we'll know why. Christmas is a really stupid time to stop boozing, by the way.

So it's two days before Christmas and my house has been an utter drop in center for people coming to get their books signed. I'm flattered, but deep down I realize that a signed copy of The Prairie Bridesmaid is the perfect last-minute-I-love-you-so-much-that-I-couldn't-get-this done-sooner gift. Besides, how the hell am I supposed to get my own husband's gift if I can't leave the house because my mom's hairdresser's sister is supposed to be popping by to get a book signed. We're approaching the point where I might be giving my husband and my two year old copies of the book - a book I'm sure they are both sick to death of. Ahh, these are, of course, nice problems to have.

Last weekend I was in Calgary for a reading and a bookclub appearance. It was fun - there was only one lady who resented my book and felt it a good idea to tell me. I had a great interview at the CBC. I love CBC; people who work there are smart.

Calgary was beautiful - giant fluffy snowflakes, mountains and temperatures above zero. It is sooooo cliche to live in Winnipeg and complain about the weather, but it is seriously fucking cold here right now. Minus 40 or something, haven't left the house in days. It is this weather that will force me to get my next book written. If I lived in Calgary I would be too busy catching snowflakes on my tongue and staring at the mountains to do anything. A condo in Mexico, however - I could definitely get writing done there.

On a completely unrelated and desperate note, I am attempting to potty train my son over the holidays. I've spent the past two days covered in pee and poo. I wish there was some sort of toilet camp you could send them to. Potty training (or if you're a politically correct helicopter parent - "toilet learning") is making the writing of this second book seem as easy as wrapping presents. On that note I should go wrap up a copy of The Prairie Bridesmaid for Rob.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I was recently cornered at a gathering by someone who told me how abominable she thought my book was. Part of me really respects someone who can tell a writer to her face that they think her book sucks. I would never have the guts to do this - and, being a writer, I know a lot of people who have written books. I tell them about the parts I do like, or I just don't say anything. I certainly wouldn't seek them out to give them negative feedback. But you gotta admit, that takes either courage, or burning can't-control-myself hatred of the book.

The other part of me wonders what the point is in telling someone you hate their work. I mean if you went to someone's house and they were serving a casserole that you didn't like would you tell them, your casserole sucks! Probably not. It's been made. It's been served. This book is like my casserole, except it took over 6 years to make.

The other interesting thing about this situation is that I really don't care if some people don't like my book. Seriously. How could I? It would be an excercise in creative self destruction. Yet, when told to my face the problems with the book, and it was predominantly the language to which this person took exception, I feel obligated to defend myself and my book. Why is this, I wonder. I just kept tactfully saying, it's a realistic representation of how the the character thinks and talks. I'm sorry that you were offended...but maybe don't read my books. This conversation went on for a long time and went nowhere. Next time this happens I'm going to say, Bummer. I hear Alice in Wonderland is a good read.

I've been really lucky thus far as critics and readers of my book have been kind - so the odd upper cut is probably good for me. As an artist and writer, I get that I'm opening myself up to total criticism. And if it makes you feel better to slam my book...then have at it. I can take it!

I think that the bottom line in all of this is that people just want a chance to express their opinions in life. So if my book gives them a chance to contemplate something, formulate an opinion and then express it - whether it be good, bad or ugly, then I feel I've done my job.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Should Your Parents Read Your Book?

I invited my mother to an event with me this week. When I emerged from the bathroom dressed and ready to go she said you're wearing that? I didn't see the problemo with a sweater, jeans and boots. What's wrong with this? I would be speaking to group of Alpha Omega Ukrainian women, many of whom, as my mother pointed out, she personally knows. Denim, I was informed was not appropriate. The sad part is that by the time the whole scene unfolded, at thirty-five years old, I sullenly went upstairs and changed. On the way to the event she also told me that I better not read any parts of my book that contain swears. Geez.

She did redeem herself a few days later; she showed up at Chapters again when I had a signing and accosted people, telling them to buy the book. It's more effective to unleash her in Chapters than it is to have me sit there for three hours.

Additionally on the subject of parents, I was over at my parents for dinner tonight when my dad informed me that he was on page 80 of my book. I must admit that I'm a bit disappointed because I really enjoyed those situations when people would come up to my dad and talk about his daughter's book. He hadn't read it, but he totally fudged his way through it.

His only comment about the first 80 pages was that he felt it was not very fictional and he was afraid to keep reading. I asked him why he was reading it now, four months after it was released. Winter, he said, nothing better to do.

I also wanted to say kudos to the Words Alive Brandon Literary Festival. This was a fantastic event!

Reading: Just cracked Reading By Lightening by Joan Thomas
Watching: Just saw the movie Happy Go Lucky Good flick, worth seeing. No time for tv these days.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mothers & Teachers

My mother and father-in-law just returned from a month long tour of the East Coast. In amongst their trip pictures of lighthouses were photos of my mother-in-law repositioning my novel to the front rack at every single Chapters/Indigo location she visited on the East Coast.

I've been doing Chapters book signings lately and my own mother comes out to them. When people stop by the table (yes, once in a while customers will do this), my mom pops out of nowhere and starts muttering to herself that her bookclub LOVED this book, or that The Prairie Bridesmaid will make the perfect Christmas gift for everyone she knows. She'll turn to the customer/victim and state "I've read rave reviews about this book!" and then she'll recite them. She wanders around the store with a stack of books in her arms - one facing out in every direction in a subtle attempt to recruit people over to the signing table.

I should curb all of this behaviour, but I don't. There's something really comforting about knowing that regardless of your book sales, your mom (or mom-in-law) will always support you.

There is a segment of the population who do not support me, in fact, they seem to hate me (and my book): elementary school teachers. The disenchanted, I-hate-my-job, the-world-f#@king-sucks teacher protagonist of this book has caused a few pair of cotton panties to get all in a knot. I have a lot of respect for what elementary school teachers (teachers in general) accomplish in a day. A lot people wouldn't be able to do it, and well, my character happens to be one of them. I'm surprised they are always trying to skewer me, because by creating this character, Anna, I've essentially elevated them to sainthood.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Talking and Refusing to Talk

The book clubs have been fun - though I did get repeatedly speared by one woman who just didn't believe that a teacher would do all of the things that Anna does is this novel. I didn't bother telling her that I'd done all of it and a lot more as a classroom teacher. I like it when people get out their pointy sticks...makes for a more interesting evening. For the most part, however, the book clubbers have all been kind. Though, as I was leaving one of them, a woman almost ran me down with her Hummer.

I've been doing lots of talking lately - interviews, bookclubs, festivals etc. and it's been great. Ironically, I spent Thursday evening at a class for parents of children who don't talk. Ahhh, the irony. I was told things like...your child is in the ditch and you just need to help him get back on the road. Apparently Oskar should be rattling off 50 words by now - at almost 2. He simply won't talk. He does have an excellent sense of humour; we are pretty sure that he can talk, but chooses not to so that we get to attend these classes and watch powerpoint presentations about how to connect with your child. Hell, he proably has a blog about this on his toddler facebook page.

Reading: I'm currently reading Joseph Boyden's novel Through Black Spruce. At a fundraiser next month I've been assigned to defend it as the book that should win the Giller. There's a scene in it about an aboriginal 5 year old boy being led off to residential school by his parents. It made me weep. It should win. (Well, Cellist of Sarajevo should win, but that's another blog)

Watching: Madmen. I had to take a break from the book and have turned to the shoulder of MADMEN for the past few nights. I've watched something like 13 episodes in the last 3 nights after Oskar is in bed. The 50's were a bizarre time and I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. Advertsing is a bizarre industry and I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.

Writing: Well, I'm finally writing. Enough said.