Saturday, August 30, 2008

Reality Check

So I went from my book launch Thursday night - which was truly fantastic to a more humbling experience this afternoon. Costco

My book launch was packed; everybody I know and loved and lots of people i don't know, but could love came out to hear me read. Well, actually I chatted more than I read. It was my dream come true really - a one way conversation about a book that I wrote with 200 people.

I went to my first signing this afternoon at a Winnipeg Costco store. Not only did people not line up - huh? But I think they were trying to not to make eye contact with me. I guess the idea being they wouldn't feel guilty about not buying my book. I do the same thing at Safeway when I don't want to eat the fish samples that those sweet ladies with the hairnets are always trying to dole out.

Bless the Costco employees and managers - they chatted me up. Two of them even bought my book! Things did start to pick up eventually and I signed and sold a few books. But I can't be sure that after I wrote "Enjoy the read, Sally" that it wasn't stuffed on a shelf somewhere amidst the chips.
Kudos to Costco anyway for trying to promote local writers, I say.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Book Launch of My Life!

It's 3:30 in the morning (so please excuse any typos). I've had a lot of drinks. There was some crazy dancng to U2. My first book launch ever is over. The last guests have just left my living room. It was one of the best nights of my life. Less painful than the birth of Oskar.

My Prairie Bridesmaid launch at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg was amazing. It's humbling that that many people would come out to hear me speak and read. It's a surreal experience to sign books, to have of people wait in line to have books signed.

Thank you. Thank you. More tomorrow when I'm sober enough to reflect on the experience!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The story of Getting Published. Yawn.

How the hell did you ever get this book published? This question has been posed to me several times lately and I'm not quite sure how to interpret it. I'll choose not to interpret it as this book is sooo bad and who in their right mind would put it out....but rather what was the process of getting this little number onto bookstore shelves.

It's sad, but I actually probably started writing the first draft, with the help of a lot...lot of wine about 7 or 8 years ago. It was a story written in a cabin at Turtle Mountain loaned to me by the good folk at Stella's Cafe.

I joined the Manitoba Writers Guild (can't say enough good things about these guys) and got accepted to a mentorship and was assigned Sheldon Oberman as my mentor. He was succumbing to cancer during my mentorship but continued to see me. We had a conversation about the show Six Feet Under, which at the time i thought was bizarre. But that's just the kind of guy Obie was. Oh, and he also told me my stories should be a book.

So I wrote a book. It took a couple of years.

Next I hired an editor - Marjorie Anderson. She's an awesome editor and she makes great tea. This was courtesy of a Manitoba Arts Council grant. Apply for grants. I got rejected soooooo many times before I got one. They can only say NO NO NO for so long before they shell out one of those sympathy grants. Editing, by the way, took another year.

When I thought the book was ready for the world I sent it out to some agents and publishers. Then I collected rejection letters from pretty much anyone who read my book. They always said it was well written, funny, blah blah, blah, but not something that they could sell. Which apparently is the point of publishing books.

One can respond "Fuck you, I quit" or "Fuck you, this book will sell." I did neither. I stuffed my book in the back of a closet and started a new manuscript. It was only 6 years...whatever.

I signed up for a writing workshop at Sage Hill. There was pressure to write, so I brought my old manuscript along just in case I buckled under performance pressure. My teacher Steven Galloway kept offering to read it and I handed it to him on the second last day. Ha. Good luck with that. Steven was the first person to tell me that I could publish it and it would sell. I was, apparently, sending it to the wrong places. Steve's is the most sarcastic person I've it must have killed him to be kind.

I scoured the bookshelves and found an agent that represented this kind of book. There weren't many. I should mention somewhere in all of this I got hitched and knocked up. 3 weeks before I was to give birth, Samantha Haywood contacted me, said she'd take me on, if I did some revisions. three weeks I'd get my edits done, have a baby and get an agent. Except a couple of hours later my water broke. Fuck. No edits, unless you count editing milk out of my breasts or poo out of diapers.

Sam waited. Six weeks later, while my son slept I wrote, got the edits done, got the agent. Life was grand!

A few months later...we were submitting to publishers. All was well. Except for one thing. My niece needed a liver and I was a match, so she would be getting my wine-soaked liver. I signed with my publisher, literally within days of signing my liver away. When you sign with a publisher you are committing , at least in my case, to doing several more drafts, with deadlines. "So when you say I won't really be able to move and I'll be in sheer pain for several months, will I be able to work on my book." "No." "Even with the morphine drip?" Whatever, sign me up for everything.

The day before the surgery a deceased donor was found, transplant was successful - with a likely healthier liver. All was well...again and I was off to the races with my edits.

My publisher has taken these pages, once deemed unsaleable, and turned them into a lovely book available at a bookstore near you.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Wedding Crashing

Thank you Patricia Robertson. You gave me the book review in the Globe and Mail that every writer dreams of...but as importantly you inspired me to do a little wedding crashing this weekend.

I was at my cousin's wedding Saturday night at Winnipeg's wedding central The Fort Gary Hotel. The beauty about this majestic joint is that there are always three other nuptial parties going on besides the one that you are attending.

In her review of my book, Patricia reminisced about wedding crashing in her Winnipeg days, which in turn inspired me to, along with my good sport of a brother, check out the other weddings at the hotel.

We congratulated two different brides on their beautiful dresses and thanked them profusely for inviting us to share their day with them. The first bride looked horrified and confused, mentally flipping through her invitation roladex, trying to figure out who the hell we were. We grabbed a quick drink and split as she seemed to be one of those stressed out brides who might actually know everyone who she invited to her hitching party. The free drinks would have been a nice bonus if we weren't already getting free booze and sausage at my cousin's wedding downstairs.

At the second reception, Alanah, who was marrying Constantime, said she was thrilled that we could share her special day with her. She was half in the bag and having a grand time; she even posed for a photo with us. I will post this tomorrow when I'm not so sleepy.

This isn't an orignal activity and Vince Vaughan made it look way cooler in The Wedding Crashers - but it's damn fun. And there's the thrill of maybe getting grilled on how you know the groom and possibly getting thrown out of the wedding.

It's interesting though, that a bride can spend years and all of her savings planning the perfect wedding, and then any old writer can invade the celebration and shamelessly blog about it.

Try it. Let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It's Escape

Weird things have been happening this week, the last couple of weeks really. I've been downing beer and wine...starting at 11 am. I haven't watched television - had cable in years and all of a sudden I've devoured two entire DVD television series in a week - Calfornication and Rescue Me, both of which I highly recommend. When I'm not boozing or watching rented DVD's I'm at wading pools, kids museums, the zoo, the beach, anywhere with Oskar. He's wondering what the hell ever happened to pajama days. We like pajama days.

It's Escape.

My book comes out this weekend and I am trying to dig a tunnel out of this reality. For years and years and years and years I've written away and dreamed of having a novel published. The great thing about dreams are that you never consider the consequences, you only entertain the beauty and benifits. Winning the lottery. You envision your house your car, your unemployment - not the fact that you'd become a consumeristic idiot contributor to rotting the planet. Writing a novel. I saw the book advance, the book launch, the signings the readings, the fame. haha

But now that it's actually happening, it's terrifying that people will read (and pay for) something that has actually come out of my brain. I wish I was one of those cool people who doesn't give a shit what people think, and maybe four books down the road I won't care. But right now, apparently, I do.

Come Saturday, when the book is finally released, all will be well. It will be fun. It will be everything I ever dreamed of. Until then, can anyone recommend a good television series?