You are here: Home > Blogs > Writer's Nook

Latest Posts

Off Line

Select another pool to see the results

    Food for the Gods—our interview with Karen Dudley

    by Janice - 0 Comment(s)

    Calgary-born and raised Karen Dudley is coming to our fair city to read from her fifth novel, Food for the Gods. Karen graciously took some time out of her busy schedule (and from recovering from the flu) to answer a few questions for the Nook.


    WRITER’S NOOK: Karen, you are an established mystery writer with four titles in the Robyn Devara series. Why the departure from the mystery genre with Food for the Gods? (and what genre is that one anyhow? historical fantasy mystery?)

    Karen: I've always loved the sci-fi/fantasy genre, but as a writer, I was a bit intimidated by it at first—all that world-building seemed so daunting and I didn't think I couldn't do justice to the genre.

    Fast forward four mystery novels and I was feeling a lot more confident about myself as a writer. Then one day, my husband and I were reorganizing our books. When I finished doing mine, I stood back and looked at them all. I had three full ceiling-to-floor bookcases of sci-fi/fantasy and a half a shelf of mystery. My husband came up behind me and stood there for a minute, then asked, "So...why are you writing mystery exactly?"

    In actual fact, when I started writing Food for the Gods, I thought I was writing a mystery. I had about 50 pages written when a friend of mine read it and told me, "Karen, you're writing a fantasy." I was shocked. I was a mystery writer! How could I be writing fantasy? But once I defined it as such, it was absolutely liberating and all kinds of weird and wonderful things began to happen. Food for the Gods is technically an historical fantasy, though it's also very humorous which is uncommon for the genre.

    NOOK: How was your writing (or researching) process different with Food for the Gods than with the Robyn Devara books?

    Karen: I've always loved the research end of writing, so I have always chosen projects that required a lot of research. I think the obvious difference in the research I've done for Food for the Gods versus the Robyn Devara novels is in the scope of it. When you're writing historical fantasy, there is a certain onus to get the historical details right. For me, this meant researching the entire culture of Classical Athens: the society, the politics, the fashions, the lifestyles. What was popular back then? What was considered rude or ominous or funny? What foods were available and/or popular? What cooking techniques were used? How did people behave at dinner parties? How did they behave in public places? What did Athens look like? I had to research all this as well as the mythological elements. It was a lot of fun!

    NOOK: Your online bio refers to your background in archaeology and Classical Studies, which obviously helped inform this new book. How much did this help with writing Food for the Gods?

    Karen: I minored in Classical Studies at university, and obviously that stood me in good stead for this project. In fact, the spirit of Food for the Gods was heavily influenced by my Greek history professor, Dr. Buck.

    The man really brought the Classical period to life for me. Whenever he talked about the reasons behind a war, he always started off by saying something like, "Well, when someone steals your women and cattle, you're liable to get a little cross about the whole thing." He wouldn't just give us dates and places for these armed conflicts, he'd act them out, marching up and down the classroom like a hoplite, talking the whole time about how 'cross' they all were with each other. He did tell us things like who won the Battle of Salamis and why, but he also told us about stuff like Alcibiades and the incident of the Theban dancing girls. He made it real. And when I decided to write Food for the Gods, I knew I wanted to make it real in the same way that he had.

    NOOK: How did you accomplish this?

    Karen: I didn't want my readers to feel the distance of history. I wanted them to feel like they were in the story, in that world. Like the characters really aren't that different from themselves. One of my favourite movies is A Knight's Tale, and so I decided to use anachronisms much in the same way that A Knight's Tale did. My characters speak with modern accents and use modern idioms. They have contemporary sensibilities. You can slide right into their lives and it doesn't require a shift in thinking.

    Another challenge for me was how to get across certain information about the society and culture without slowing down the narrative. My solution was to incorporate a series of interstitial chapters throughout the book. There are recipes, advertisements for products, even excerpts from self-help scrolls. They're very humorous, but they also impart some rather crucial information about life in Classical Athens.

    NOOK: Speaking of recipes: you've included some in this in book...do you have a favourite?

    Karen: Ah yes, the recipes! There a couple of recipes in the book. My main character, Pelops, is troubled by a rival chef named Mithaecus (The Sicilian), and I've included one of Mithaecus' recipes in the book. It's not a very good recipe (of course—he IS the rival chef, after all!), but what's interesting about it is that it is one of the earliest surviving published recipes. Mithaecus of Sicily was a real person—and a famous chef of his time.

    My favourite recipe in the book, however, has to be Pelops' Fig and Goat Cheese Appetizers. Mmmm...fresh figs stuffed with goat cheese and mint, wrapped in prosciutto and grilled ‘til the prosciutto is crispy. Then you drizzle 'em with honey. Oh man, my mouth is watering; I have to go and cook now...

    NOOK: What's next for you?

    Karen: I'm currently working on the sequel to Food for the Gods. It's even more fun that the first book and I'm finding myself laughing out loud (which rarely happens when you write!). I love the book, I love the premise and I love the title: Kraken Bake. It's due to for release in early spring 2014.


    A huge thanks to Karen for answering our questions. Be sure to go to one (or both!) of her two upcoming Calgary readings along with author Chadwick Ginther (reading from Thunder Road):

    November 19th at the Sentry Box at 7 pm

    November 20th at 7 pm, Louise Riley Library



    Interested in Karen Dudley's Robyn Devara mystery series? Check them out below:

    National Novel Writing Month - Halfway There!

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    While we like to think that every day this month has been a "NaNoWriMo day", we are now coming up on the midway mark and that means that the official 'NaNo Day at the Calgary Public Library' is coming up really quick. This Saturday, November 17th, the Central library offers two fantastic presentations from noon to three pm and there are still spots left in the eBook or Print? session from author and book promoter extraordinaire Susan M. Toy. She will be here at twelve noon to discuss the many changes in promotion and marketing that have occurred since the rise of eBooks and the new ways of delivering books to readers.

    If you've been to any of the library's Writer's Weekend seminars in the past you know there is no better person to get advice on the production, marketing, and promotion of your work than Susan Toy. If you haven't met Susan at any of our Writer's Weekends, go directly to this website:

    Susan M. Toy, Literary Consultant

    ...and then get yourself registered for one of the few remaining spots in Saturday's convergence of Calgary Wrimotaurs.

    HAPPY NANO DAY!


    CALGARY'S REGIONAL WEBSITE - www.calgarynano.ca

    A Single Onion, A Hundred Nights

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Single Onion #100:

    WHEN:

    Saturday, November 17. 7.00 PM

    WHERE:

    Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Centre

    (1320-5th Ave NW)

    _____________________________

    Remember that poetry contest we told you about over the summer, the one where the finalists would have a chance to share the stage in celebration of Single Onion’s 100th event and battle over $1,450 in prize money?

    Well, we are now only a week away from Single Onion #100 so I have another chance to post this beautiful "inside-a-tree" picture. And while the celebration of Calgary's longest-running spoken word reading series' 100th event is enough to get any of us out to the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Centre next Saturday, let me also assure you that the quality of performers coming out includes some of the cream of Calgary's crop...

    WEYMAN CHAN JASON CHRISTIE KIRK RAMDATH

    For complete details please visit the Single Onion website.

    And don't miss the warm-up, Single Onion #99, two nights prior, at UBU Bistro!

    Writing a Novel in Thirty Days

    by Janice - 0 Comment(s)

    So for all of you crazy, wonderful NaNoWriMo types:

    ...just how do you write 50,000 (or more) words in thirty days?

    We have lots of tips (books, blog posts, articles) on how to get ready for National Novel Writing Month madness, but once November 1 is here my advice is to stop looking at writing advice and start writing.

    Some types sneer at the concept of writing a full-length novel in one month, but the point of NaNoWriMo is not to end up with a beautifully written, perfect manuscript that will lead to publishers' bidding wars and international awards. No. My hope for all NaNoWriMo participants, whether already published or not, is simply to write 50,000 words—perhaps much of which will be complete and utter crap—by December 1.

    As I see it, the beauty in NaNoWriMo is threefold:

    1. Creating a regular writing practice
      So many of us struggle to write every day. During NaNoWriMo you write—a lot—every day, helping to create the habit of making the time to write and then actually writing.
    2. Completing a major length writing project
      Will it be your best work? No. Will it get published? Not likely. Will you realize that you can write a novel to completion and learn a whole lot (about yourself and you as a writer) from the process? Yes.
    3. Community Support
      What most consider the most important aspect of NaNoWriMo is the community support. There are websites, international and local online and in-person meet-up groups, support from others who see the fun and folly of writing 50,000 words in thirty days. (And perhaps you didn't realize that your local library is one of the best places for writing space, information, tips, support and awesome programs for writers?)

    So now what?


    Well, you (especially those of you who like to tackle things in a structured way) are in luck; in its How to write a book in 30 days series, the Guardian website has spent the last two weeks giving detailed advice and a day-to-day breakdown on how yoGuardian How to Write a Book in 30 Daysu might best use the thirty days of November:

    How to write a book in 30 days (Guardian series)

    Stage 1: days 1–6
    Creating your preliminary outline with characters, setting and plot

    Stage 2: days 7–13
    Researching your novel (note: please remember the Calgary Public Library)

    Stage 3: days 14–15
    The evolution of your story

    Stage 4: days 16–24
    Introducing the formatted outline

    Stage 5: days 25–28
    Evaluating the strength of your formatted outline

    Stage 6: days 29–30
    Revising your first draft

    If you like to take notes, there is even a series of worksheets to help keep you on track (you have to register for the Guardian website to access the worksheets).

    The information in this series is a condensed version of what is in Karen S. Wiesner's First Draft in 30 Days, and may help you focus on how best to use your time. (note to NaNoWriMo participants: you don't have time to read this book, or any book, before November 1.)

    •••••••••••••••••

    NaNoWriMo

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a nonprofit event that encourages kids and adults to tackle the challenge of writing a novel in November. Launched in 1999, NaNoWriMo inspires its estimated 300,000 participants with email pep talks, a huge and supportive online community, and a host of web-based writing tools. Additionally, volunteers called Municipal Liaisons (MLs) in nearly 600 regions organize local writing events and get-togethers that transform novel-writing into an achievable and fun community endeavor.”

    Sign up today at the NaNoWriMo website.


    And because libraries are the ultimate place to write - the domestic distractions of home are eliminated, the calm-yet-lively atmosphere nurtures focus, and you surround yourself with all the glorious material you could ask for in terms of research and inspiration - we are hoping that any and all Calgary WRIMOS come and plug in at any of our 18 branches across the city. Our doors will open 29 out of 30 days in November (closed for Remembrance Day) and on the 17th the Central library is hosting a mid-way convergence featuring two special presentations you won't want to miss...



    CHARACTER CREATION WORKSHOP

    November 17. 1.00 - 3.00 pm.

    Join local authors Susan Calder (Deadly Fall) and Garry Ryan (Blackbirds) for an interactive workshop on making your characters come alive and about using E-Resources. Bring your questions and meet other writers. Everyone welcome. REGISTER.

    eBook or Print?

    November 17. 12.00 - 1.00 pm.

    Consider both formats when publishing your writing. Susan Toy discusses the many changes in promotion and marketing that have occurred as a result of both methods of delivering books to readers. REGISTER.

    __________________________________________


    This is also a perfect opportunity to make use of the library's Writer-in-Residence services. Book your manuscript consultation with Brian Brennan today and get some free, professional guidance on your journey to 50,000 words. Mr. Brennan's residency will end November 30 so do not wait.

    Your City Has a Story to Tell You

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    In a panel discussion held recently at the Central Library as part of WordFest (EVENT#30: STORIES CITIES TELL), four world-class authors discussed the role that cities played in their work. Is the character of a city created by the people that move through it, or does the structure of a city shape the trajectory of its population’s character?

    Depends on the city, of course.

    The experience of real children navigating the barricades of Belfast, as reported by Marcello Di Cintio’s Walls, is very different from the fictional structures imposed on the characters of Pasha Malla’s People Park. When the discussion was opened to the audience for questions one of the first hands raised wanted to know what the authors thought about the state of the city they were in, Calgary. As the only Calgary writer on hand, Di Cintio gracefully handled the question with a thoughtful analysis of how the presence of the Rocky mountains on the Western horizon affected Calgarians the same way Lake Michigan cradles the east end of Joe Meno’s Chicago.

    The topic of Calgary also raised the question of whether or not Calgary had yet been ‘written’ the way that other major cities of the world are represented in literature – a highly debatable, unanswerable question that can really only be addressed through reading. And writing.

    And if you’re writing Calgary you’ve got to know Calgary.

    And nobody knows Calgary better than the select group of historians, authors, and storytellers gathering at the library this weekend for HERITAGE WEEKEND 2012. Save yourself lifetimes worth of research and experience the stories that built our city like you’ve never heard before.

    Unbuilt Calgary

    Saturday, Oct 20
    1:00 to 2:00 p.m.
    John Dutton Theatre (Central Library 2nd floor)

    Author Stephanie White explores a century of plans for Calgary, some remaining unrealized, others waiting for their time to come.

    Stories of Calgary

    Saturday, Oct 20
    2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
    John Dutton Theatre (Central Library, 2nd floor)

    Calgary’s best historian-storytellers, Hugh Dempsey, Harry Sanders, Max Foran and Nancy Townshend, and Library writer-in-residence Brian Brennan for fascinating and entertaining stories of Calgary’s past.

    For the full list of inspiration-guaranteed Heritage Weekend events taking place October 19th & 20th, click here.

    Contest Deadline Season

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    It is the time of year when deadlines for a lot of writing contests start to creep up quickly. While you may think it’s crazy to pay money to submit work to a magazine that you can submit work to for free at any time of the year, there are benefits. A subscription to the magazine (which is usually offered with the entry fee) helps you keep on top of what’s getting published in them, and also helps support the magazine, which in turn supports writers.

    Contests also provide DEADLINES, which are crucial for a lot of us who have trouble with self-discipline or over-analysis. (See also: "Dreaded Deadlines".) When a piece of work has to be completed before a determined date there is a real sense of motivating urgency you just can’t get from any internal pressure. And you might find that your editing process takes a much harder line when you know what you’re working on is going to be judged.

    Here is a roundup of some of our favourite magazines’ current contests, and links to the details, in chronological order of their deadlines. Remember that if you are going to enter contests, read the magazine you are submitting to to get a feel for what they publish. You can find any of the following publications on the 4th floor of the Central library.

    Contest Host Link to details DEADLINE

    2013 Open Season Awards

    NOVEMBER 1

    (Fiction, Poetry, & Creative Non-Fiction)

    Prairie Fire

    NOVEMBER 30

    (Fiction, Poetry, & Creative Non-Fiction)

    ANNUAL PROSE & POETRY CONTEST

    DECEMBER 31

    (Fiction & Poetry only)


    PRISM international

    Fiction & Poetry: JANUARY 25, 2013

    Literary Non-Fiction: November 28, 2012

    Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers

    MARCH 1, 2013

    Please note that this is only small sample of the endless places for you to submit your work. A really good website to take a look at for other submission calls is [places for writers], which seems to have new postings every day.

    EVENT 36 - Poetry off the Page

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

     

    60+ Events. 6 days...

    DON'T MISS THIS ONE:

    __________________________

    Event #36 - POETRY OFF THE PAGE

    October 12, 2012

    9:30-11pm, Vertigo Theatre Centre, Studio

    Ken Babstock • Ivan E. Coyote • Phil Hall • A.F. Moritz • Sandy Pool

    Award-winning and prolific, Canadian “page poets” use the stage as the page, transforming their readings into a charged event for a truly dynamic experience. Hosted by Lorna Crozier. TICKETS.

    Methodist Hatchet Missed Her Killdeer The New Measures Undark
    Ken Babstock Ivan E. Coyote Phil Hall A.F. Moritz Sandy Pool

    Festival starts October 9! Click here for the complete lineup.

    Celebrate Calgary Authors

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    This Saturday the Memorial Park Library is hosting a special all-day event highlighting authors who call Calgary home. Presented by the Calgary Association of Lifelong Learners and Sponsored by Calgary 2012, this will surely be a wonderful way to get to know locally-produced writers, to commemorate their contributions to the city, and to get excited about the future...

    A CELEBRATION OF CALGARY AUTHORS

    Saturday, Sep 29
    10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

    REGISTER HERE!

    Featured Guests:

    Pat Roome, Hugh Dempsey, Brian Brennan, Max Foran, Fred Stenson, Katherine Govier, Chris Turner, Chryl Foggo, and Kris Demeanor

    New in the Nook, September Edition

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Another interesting batch of new arrivals to report!

    The 4th floor of the Central library is keeping an eye on all the latest resources for writers and we set them aside in the "physical" version of the Writer's Nook, where you will find everything you need to get inspired and informed to keep your writing projects moving forward.

    Wired for Story: the writer's guide to using brain science to hook readers from the very first sentence by Lisa Cron

    Imagine knowing what the brain craves from every tale it encounters, what fuels the success of any great story, and what keeps readers transfixed. Wired for Story reveals these cognitive secrets-and it's a game-changer for anyone who has ever set pen to paper. (Summary)

    Science can reveal new perspectives, but just as often it shows us what we already know. The study of narrative as a powerful force that can do more than entertain is a perfect example of how neuroscience validates what writers -and readers- already sense: we are hardwired to love a story because it allows us to make sense of the world. Cron (Extension Writers' Program, UCLA) draws on her extensive experience in publishing, story consultancy, and television to elucidate not just how to write well but how to tell a story. While the brain science element can come off as a bit gimmicky as Cron shares her "secrets," it's the only flaw in a marvelous examination of key writing concepts such as plot, tone, theme, timing, conflict, subplot, and setup. Cron shows how these elements work to keep the narrative unfolding while moving it along, with patterns and parallels connecting the reader to the whole story. Practical, useful, and well organized, this enjoyable book provides a framework of questions for writers to ask themselves. This book will be well received by both aspiring and established writers. (Library Journal Review)

    The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets by Jeffrey Skinner

    A private eye turned moderately successful poet leads readers on a satiric, hopeful tour of how to make a life in the arts, while still having a life. Revealing, hilarious, and peppered with sly takes on the ins and outs of contemporary American poetry.

    Revision is the process a poem endures to become its best self.
    Or, if you are the poet, you are the process a poem endures to become its best self. [...]

    Endures because a first draft, like all other objects in the universe, has inertia and would prefer to stay where it is. The poet must not collaborate.
    Best
    self because the poem is more like a person than a thing, and does not strenuously object to personification.
    Yo, poem.
    But let's not get carried away. It's your poem and you can treat it as you wish; sweet talk it; push it around if that's what it takes. Alfred Hitchcock notoriously said of the actors in his movies, "They are cattle."

    Tags:
    6789101112131415Showing 101 - 110 of 202 Record(s)