Friday, 23 August 2013

Review of 419 by Will Ferguson

This is not the kind of book I usually read, but because it was Will Ferguson and because he won the Giller Prize for this novel, I was curious. 419 is breathtaking - both because of the fear it brings to your throat and because of the incredible characters. 

A big part of my curiosity over this book stemmed from the author. I have heard Ferguson speak and was thrilled by his humour and story-telling ability. How could this translate to an action-adventure book, I wondered. Perfectly. 

Although the book deals with a very serious subject - an internet scam and all of the people involved, both in Canada and Nigeria, Ferguson's story-telling and ability to capture dialogue made it so much more than your typical action story. There is depth to his characters, even though he writes from so many points of view. There are inventive writing techniques, and he certainly keeps the reader guessing throughout.

I am deeply impressed (and humbled as an author myself), that Ferguson can write both fiction and non-fiction with such expertise. I highly recommend this book.
419 on

Monday, 19 August 2013

Canadian Book Challenge Books 1 and 2

I started the Canadian Book Challenge with two great reads.  Here are the links to my reviews for Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw by Will Ferguson and Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.

I enjoyed Will Ferguson so much that I chose to read 419 for my fourth book.  It is so good!  Will review when I am finished.  How can he write both fiction and non-fiction so well?  I told my hubby that I give up, let Will do the writing, but I might have lied.  I still want to write:)

Saturday, 17 August 2013

The 2013 Canadian Book Challenge

I have officially joined the 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge on The Book Mine Set Blog.  I joined unofficially last year, and I'm not sure if I made the challenge.  I thought if I signed up for real, I'd be more likely to read the 13 books by Canadian authors over the year.

The challenge begins July 1 (Canada Day) and continues until the following Canada Day.  You can join the challenge at any time during the year.  Here is a link to my third review of the year for The Whole Truth - a Canadian young adult book by author Kit Pearson.
The Whole Truth Review

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Nom de Plume

I'm planning on using a nom de plume for my next book.  I have several reasons for doing so.  Firstly,because I am a teacher and I don't want my young students reading material that is inappropriate.  This is not to say that this is some kind of racy adult content.  There are a few curses to represent the types of characters I have created, and are other things that just aren't appropriate for elementary students.  Secondly, my husband is a pastor.  This is not to say that my book has anything that is anti-Christian, but all writing is open to interpretation and can be taken out of context.  And thirdly, I'm worried people will assume that my character's life is my life.  Or course, I write from my experience, but the young man in my book IS NOT MY HUSBAND and the girl in the book, though she has similar likes and dislikes and life experiences IS NOT ME.
      Also, it's been fun coming up with another name.  It came to me last night when I was trying to sleep.  Of course I won't post it here, but if you'd like to know, feel free to ask me privately and I might just give you a hint:)  
      This novella is one that's been sitting for many years.  I attempted publishing it several times, have worked on it with a writer in residence at the Saskatoon Public Library and am now planning to self-publish.  Why publish something you wrote years ago that has never been seen by the public eye?  I began writing my book in August 2002 in a green Hilroy notebook.  My book idea began “A 20-year-old writer is drowning in a young, Canadian poverty. . . The girl strives to break (her and her boyfriend) out of their cycle of poverty by writing. 
      I have published five books since writing this novella.  I’ve given up on it many times, but it calls out to me on arbitrary nights and I thought it might stop haunting me if I let if out into the world.  Perhaps it will leave some room in my mind for new ideas and stories to hatch.
      Since this story is a novella, it allows room for me to include some of the short stories I’ve worked on over the years.  They are presented in the order in which I wrote them.  I see a real development as they go from lighter to darker.  I blame (or give credit to) my growing age.  Each year brings me closer to death, so rather than ignore the fact, why not explore it? Five of the short stories began at Writing Group and I must give thanks to this delightful group for creating with me.  There is something so exciting about scribbling away in the midst of talented writers.
       What do you think about using a pen name and have you ever tried it?

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Not As They Appear

My new book is currently available on amazon and Kindle!  It is a real departure from my other  books - I would define it as middle grade, Christian fantasy.  At a book signing for my book Subgirl, my son lamented that I didn't have any boy books, so Not As They Appear is the result. 

In honour of the release of my book to the world, I thought I'd post some of the first chapter here.  Enjoy!

Chapter One
My sister Jessica never saw the dragons.  Or at least she claimed she didn’t see them.  I kinda thought she was faking, trying to be cool and popular – but thinking back, maybe she was telling the truth.  She certainly wasn’t the only one who couldn’t see the dragons.
            I remember the first time I saw one.  I woke in my bed, covered in dried sweat, my heart racing.  Terror gripped every nerve, but I couldn’t remember why.  Did I have a nightmare?  If so, I couldn’t remember even a fragment of it.  Perhaps someone had been in my room, but I was too scared to check.
            Then I heard it – the horrid screeching like ten thousand nails across a rock.  Deafeningly wretched.  My heart thumped faster and I forgot to breathe.
            I hid beneath my pillow, but the sound penetrated, barely muffled.  I called out to my mom – our mother, the one we had been fighting over since I was born, until we wore her down to a nervous point.  Our arguments deflated her, though we didn’t know this at the time.
            For once, she did not appear instantly at my door.  Where was she?  I could always count on her at night.  Somehow, she could manage compassion and gentleness in the dark, though she couldn’t face it in the light of day. 
            The sounds continued at least a quarter of an hour and then ceased completely.  Though I was enveloped in panic, this did not translate to my limbs.  They remained frozen in my bed.  When the noises ceased, I finally emerged from my blankets, padded to my window and lifted the blind half an inch. 
            A giant yellow eye stared back.  I screamed, but no sound came out.  The eye seemed to xray my heart and soul.  I let the blind drop and bolted back to my island of imagined safety.  I breathed again, tears trapped inside, trembling myself to sleep.

            The following morning our mother was gone. 
            “Way to go, twerp,” Jessica said over a precariously full bowl of fruit loops.  There were none left in the box for me.
            “What?”  I whined.  “You ate all the cereal.”
            She thrust a giant spoonful into her mouth and grinned at me through the colourful ohs.
            “Yfph mph mopth leeph.”
            I punched her in the stomach and she spit the partially gobbled cereal into my face.
            “You’re gonna pay for that, you little brat.” 
            She chased me around the room and I didn’t even notice our mom was missing until it was time to go to school.
            “Hey, where’s mom?” I poked my nose into Jessica’s room.
            “I told you this morning,” she pulled a brush through her long blond hair.  “She’s not here.  I heard you screaming last night.  You must have kept her awake all night, like you always do and then she decided she couldn’t take it any more.”
            I moved closer, worried.  “What are you talking about?  You never told me she was gone.”
            She grabbed her backpack and stormed out of the room. 
            “Jessicaaaah,” I keened with the perfect inflection to set your teeth against one another.
            She threw her hands up in the air and turned on me.  I slammed into her by accident.
            “I’m not your mother,” she screamed.  “And I’m never gonna be.  If you made her leave, you’re just gonna have to figure out what to do with yourself.”
She left the house then, turning the key in the lock behind her.  I was four years old.  I’d never been alone in the house before.

            Immediately, the silence creeped me out. I turned on the television.  After two episodes of PowerRangers, I called out:
            “Mo-om!  I’m hungry!”  Nothing happened, which wasn’t unusual.  “Mooooooom.  Moooooooooom!”  I said her name with increasing length and strength of voice. 
            When I tired of this, I wandered into her room.  She hadn’t made her bed.  Nothing seemed to be missing.  Her purse waited on the hook by her door.  I rummaged through it until I found $4.87 in change.  I pocketed the money and stomped back into the kitchen.  Jessica hadn’t finished her cereal.  The colourful circles had bloated and disintegrated into the milk, turning it an awful greenish-brown colour.  I slammed the side of the bowl, spilling the contents onto the table.  I felt some sense of accomplishment.  Then I looked through the cereal cupboard for another box, but could only find a stale box of crispy flakes.  I hated that cereal, but grabbed a few handfuls to tame the knot of hunger and unease in my belly.  After that meager feast, I found a half-full container of grape juice and drank it straight from the jar.  I spilled some down my shirt and a few drops onto the floor.  I swiped at them with my Spiderman pajamas.  Then I found some marshmallows and chocolate chips in the cupboard to round out my meal.  I returned to the solace of the television again, lulled by the high-pitched voices and gun sounds.