September 30th is a day Canadians can practice truth and reconciliation by wearing orange and thinking about Phyllis' story. The date for this annual event was in part chosen because September is the time of year when children were taken from their homes and brought to residential school.
For those who haven't hit the link to Phyllis' story, (and please do! She tells her own story better than I ever could ever re-tell it) Phyllis' shiny orange shirt was stripped from her on her first day in residential school. I know that some of us are under the impression that residential schools are old news, even ancient history. Phyllis' story occurred in 1973. If you think 1973 is a long time ago, I welcome you to take a closer look at the lines around my eyelids. Then, by all means, ask me if I agree that the 70's are ancient history.
One thing I love about storytelling is it's amazing ability to build empathy between people from different backgrounds and experiences. With that in mind, I'd like to share two book recommendations from Indigenous Canadian authors. Both have deepened my own understanding.
April Raintree by Beatrice Culleton was a book I first read while earning my bachelor of social work. The story is about two Metis sisters who are removed from their home and then subsequently grow up in foster care.
Legacy by Waubgeshig Rice was published in 2014. I had the chance to hear Mr. Rice at the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts in 2015 and he was both thoughtful and inspiring. Legacy deals with violence perpetuated against a woman and its ongoing effect on her Anishinaabe family.
Marital conflict is at the heart of Out of Play, but not the Hollywood version. The "Why can't you just put your shoes in the closet" version. That’s right, we are talking real life.
And like any smart spouse, I've been on the lookout for marital advice on twitter. Here's my list of Top Ten Twitter Truths on Marriage.
Which is your favourite?
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It's Pride Week in Calgary and what a great time to share my takeaways from the All The Colours Panel at When Words Collide. I know, you've been restless for weeks, wondering when I'd report back on this. Yes, I've taken my sweet time. I've been processing what I learned and thinking about how I wanted to share it. It was an honour to moderate the panel, and I took away as much as any other audience member.
In case I've just listed a few things you aren't sure about, let me give you the quick run down:
When Words Collide: That's an amazeballs annual conference in Calgary for writers and readers. It's all about improving your craft, immersing yourself in a writing community, and having a kickass time.
All The Colours: This was one of dozens of panels offered during the conference. It was about writing queer themes and queer characters with authenticity and sensitivity. We covered how--and why--to avoid stereotypes, what themes have been done and overdone as well as opportunities for writers to explore.
So yes, it was completely my kind of day: social justice, literature and conversation. Other than a few pre-public speaking jitters, (does anyone not get those?) it was a super experience.
One of the true gifts of the panel was author SG Wong who happened to be in the audience. She sent out tweets throughout the entire conversation. How awesome! Even better, she put together a storify (Let's Look At All The Colours) where she shares 9 of her Twitter takeaways from the panel. There's good stuff here, so if you are looking to bring diversity into your writing, or you are wondering how literature could better reflect a fuller spectrum of the rainbow, I encourage you to take a quick look and a long think.
In the meantime, my family has been celebrating #YYCPride literary styles. Here are our top 2016 reads that included queer characters and themes.
My daughter choose the graphic novel, DRAMA by Raina Telgemeier. I choose the YA novel WE ARE ALL MADE OF MOLECULES by Susin Nielsen.
Although neither book broke the secondary character troupe, they were both amazing, and I recommend them while wearing all three of my hats: momma, social worker and writer. Next on my to-be-read list is GIRL MANS UP by Canadian author, M-E Girard. Can't wait!
How about you? What books have you read that have done a kickass job of representing sexual orientation and gender diversity with authenticity and respect?
Happy Pride Week, Calgary!
For most of August I’ve been focused on everything it takes to bring a book to life: editing, marketing and book covers were never far from mind. And yet, there was something a heck of a lot bigger that had everyone else’s attention: Rio 2016. Apart from my little desk by the window, (the one I share with my faithful companion, ‘hot beverage,’ and my steadfast partner, ‘loyal laptop’) my home was no different from anywhere else: Olympic Fever rained.
This particular Olympics was rather special for us. Our nine year old daughter has been keenly waiting to watch and cheer for HER sport on the Olympic stage: synchronized swimming. She’s been training for two years, seven hours per week at the pool and on the deck. As parents, we’ve spent an equal amount of time driving, fundraising, cheering, and swallowing down both nervous energy and proud tears. It has been our daughter’s total passion for synchro that has inspired me to keep driving and to keep fundraising (it has not, unfortunately, inspired me to exercise. Nope. Notta. Zilch sport happening here, friends).
A competitive streak has lit in my collaborative and consensus-minded child. For the first time ever, my husband had to tailor his annual father-daughter holiday in order to view sporting events of his daughter’s choosing. And although the dear man had dreams of a left-handed pitcher, he has a child with to-die-for unders and there is nothing for either of us to do but celebrate and foster her love of sport.
Not to be outdone in the Olympics Inspiration Department, (because NO younger sibling wants to be outdone, any time, ever!) our six year old daughter has urged us to sign her up for rugby. The amazing performance of the Canadian Women’s Rugby 7s team had us all cheering, and damn if I could think of a better sport for our fierce firecracker.
And in the backdrop of all the excitement and inspiration that comes with the Games, what could be wrong? This muck: 9 Depressing Reasons Rio Was The Most Sexist Olympics Yet.
Our children, and our athletes, deserve better.
Very exciting week -- both the cover art for OUT OF PLAY and the date for the online launch were released by my lovely publisher, Crooked Cat.
I'm loving the prairie sky, and seeing Gillian and Ralph atop their car speaks to me of contemplating the stuck places all marriages eventually run up against. What are your thoughts?
The online launch is October 27th; all are welcome! You can find the event on Facebook here:
This will be my third year attending When Words Collide and my first year participating on one of the panel discussions--and I'm very excited to do so! I'll be moderating the ALL THE COLORS panel on August 13th. The panel is a great opportunity for writers (including myself) to learn more about how we can authentically represent gender and sexual orientation diversity in our stories.
WHEN WORDS COLLIDE is a non-profit festival for readers, writers, artists and publishers of commercial and literary fiction. It is designed to bring readers and writers together in a celebration of the written word. To learn more, check out their website www.whenwordscollide.org
I'll also be volunteering at the Alexandra Writers Centre Society table on Saturday from 3 - 5 pm. Stop by and say hi!
What's an Unblog?
I've been told that blogs need to be updated regularly and consistently. So let's be clear: this is not a blog.