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PQ Weekly Roundup: 19 Jul 2019

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Every Friday, the PQ Weekly Roundup collects the most shared links in our social media network—bookish articles, reviews, quizzes, recommendations and more—in convenient digest form.

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Happy to see you here this scorching Friday. Enjoy our bookish roundup, and if you get a moment, pop on over to the Rerouted page, where you can pick up a print copy of this fabulous short story debut!

Cheers,
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This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain on Editing. A Literary PSA…

I’ve recently fallen into a bit of a rut when it comes to my work tasks. Timing and to-do lists have conspired to ensure that my normally diversified work diet has become a bit more homogeneous than I often enjoy. Indeed, these last few weeks, the lion’s share of my time has been dedicated to editing in some way, shape or form, and readers, it has put me off my proverbial feed.

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The lion, known for its proverbial “share”. This lion’s share represents my time spent editing laltely.

You can probably guess that I am, by nature and inclination, a reader. Nothing pleases me so much as a rainy day spent curled up with a book, engaging in that most relaxing of pursuits, pleasure reading. But lately, I’ve found that my steady diet of editorial roughage, shall we say, has somewhat ruined my appetite for my usual off-the-clock literary snacks.

I’ve found that editing temporarily changes my brain, whether I’m performing big-picture substantive editing or more small-scale line editing and copyediting. When I approach my first or second read of a book with a substantive eye, my brain zeroes in on logic, questioning every facet of plot and character, examining motive and means. Would that character use that particular wording? Is the passage of time true to life? Is this coincidence believable or is it just convenient? This kind of laser focus can make for a stronger manuscript, but it can make pleasure reading ponderous as hell.

scribe copying book onto paper

Fun fact: you will likely never have as many books and papers on your desk as when you’re editing a book.

But if I find it hard to switch off that logic-questioning part of my brain when I’m knee-deep in editing a manuscript, it’s nearly impossible to approach pleasure reading with any kind of appreciation when I’m in the middle of copyediting a book. I often find it difficult to start copyediting a manuscript because it takes so long for me to fall into the groove. I have to force myself to pay attention to the most minute of details, to stop and start whenever I need to look up a name or check the Canadian spelling of a word, or refer to the Chicago Manual of Style on one of the million and one intricacies of hyphenating compound words. But once I’m in the zone, I’m in it ‘til the bitter end. At that point, if I pick up a book to read for fun, I invariably put it down because I keep finding myself wondering about misplaced commas or pausing over American spellings. I find it hard to follow plot and characterization when I’m constantly distracted by grammar and spelling. When I find myself reaching for pen and paper to record proper names that need checking, I know it’s time to put my book aside and find other ways to relax my brain.

So, bereft of pleasure reading, what’s a porcupette to do? Well, there’s television on occasion—I caught some of the Wimbledon men’s championship this weekend, which was quite the nail-biter. And there are always errands to run—lately I’ve been wandering around town looking for decorative knobs for a desk I plan to refinish. Plus, in the summer, there’s always a friend or two up for an outdoor adventure. So while I might wistfully think of all the books in my library waiting to be read, right now, I’m quite content to give them a short vacation while my mind works on overtime!

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Thanks for visiting and listening to my bookish musings. Hope you enjoyed this peek inside my literary brain!

Cheers,Steph


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PQ Weekly Roundup: 12 July 2019

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Every Friday, the PQ Weekly Roundup collects the most shared links in our social media network—bookish articles, reviews, quizzes, recommendations and more—in convenient digest form.

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Hope you enjoyed this week’s link roundup. Have a great weekend full of books and reading!

All the best,
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A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place, Or, All My Simple Pleasures Are Apparently Bookish Ones

I moved about eight months ago and I’m still unpacking.

Yes, I can hear your gasps of horror and dismay from here, but I defy you to tell me that you don’t have even a single box of miscellaneous stuff from your last move mouldering in the basement or cluttering up a closet.

In my case, I’ve been staring for months at three pesky boxes of categorized office-related stuff taking up floor space in the spare room. The items therein had a purpose but no permanent home. All I needed were suitable furnishings to contain the treasures therein.

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Unveiling the Most Gorgeous Bookcase of Life, AKA, how I spent my Sunday night.

Lo and behold, this weekend I acquired the perfect piece to complete my office space. My best friend’s father has been downsizing, and had no further use for what I’ve come to consider the Most Gorgeous Bookcase of Life™. This weekend, a couple of strapping friends packed it up in a pickup truck and brought it to its new home in my little office—“PQL South” as I like to call it.

Of course I couldn’t resist filling said bookcase immediately. Most of my books have a home upstairs in the library, so this little gem was earmarked for bulky items like my printer as well as a whole bunch of work-related notebooks, binders and folders that had been packed away.

It is almost sad, the absurd amount of pleasure I derived from organizing this bookcase. In fact, organizing any bookcase is, for me, among the top ten ways to spend a weekend afternoon. (I’m very much an alphabetical-by-author’s-last-name kind of person, but you do you.)

detail of bookshelf with stuffed hedgehog/porcupine and PQL sign

Detail of the Most Gorgeous Bookcase of Life. (Yes, that is a hedgehog, but people keep giving me hedgehog things thinking they’re porcupine things, so I play along. This one is named Winston Churchquill.)

I think it’s because it gives me an opportunity to appreciate not only have, but where I’ve been. In organizing my bookshelves, I get to to revisit beloved works and read a page or two of my favourite passages. But more, my books are like time machines. I can time-travel back to remember where I was when I discovered and bought and read each one. A friend of mine put me on to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in high school. I read Things Fall Apart as an undergrad and learned that required reading doesn’t have to be boring. I purchased Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore on my first trip to The Strand in New York. I gobbled up The Shadow of the Wind over winter break one year, cozied up under a blanket by the Christmas tree. For a minute or two, I’m brought back to what I was thinking and feeling when I first experienced a given book.

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Found in boxes: art prints to frame and hang. What a score!

It’s not just novels that inspire this effect. In unpacking my office boxes I found relics of PQL seasons past—preparation for sales conference, editorial notes, sales sheets and catalogues. I paged through my first impressions of an early draft of Barbara Sibbald’s The Museum of Possibilities, and one-sheets featuring backlist PQL titles like Sailor Girl and Beasts of New York. I discovered a trove of artwork that I’d forgotten about, just waiting to be framed and hung. I found magazines full of inspiring print designs and a notebook full of observations on conferences I’d attended, like BookExpo, ALA and AWP. Those boxes were something of a time capsule, and in organizing the contents, in finding each item a home, I was able to experience a nice little vacation to the past.

So go unpack a box. Open an old book. Reorganize your shelves. Memories await!
 

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I hope you weren’t too bored by my blathering about the simple pleasure of organizing a bookcase. What can I say? My passions are bookish ones. If you’ve had a similar experience organizing your bookshelves, leave a comment and share your story!

Cheers,Steph


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PQ Weekly Roundup: 05 Jul 2019

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Every Friday, the PQ Weekly Roundup collects the most shared links in our social media network—bookish articles, reviews, quizzes, recommendations and more—in convenient digest form.

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Glad you stopped by to check out our best bookish links of the week. Have a wonderful weekend!

Cheers,
sig


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Going to Bookish Extremes and Other News for July at the Porcupine’s Quill

There’s something about summertime that makes me feel a little extreme. Think about it. The sweltering heat and humidity of a Southwestern Ontario summer juxtaposed with the simple pleasure of a frosty iced coffee. The long, sunny days practically beg you to keep busy and fill your day with activities, whether they be out in nature, or inside, in air-conditioned comfort. But then again, the short, quiet nights are a perfect chance for calm recuperation.

Theatre masks, one sad, one happy.

If this isn’t a graphic representation of the kind of extreme reading mood swings I’m talking about, I don’t know what is.

Is it any wonder that my reading finds itself going to extremes also? I find myself yearning to delve into a long, juicy read—a doorstop of a book full of complex characters and rich descriptions. Maybe it’s a remnant of those school-free summers of childhood, where I devoured library books at a rate that I’m sure alarmed my parents. But with all that time on my hands, what could be better than immersing myself in a time-consuming read that might otherwise feel rushed or unappreciated? Tackling a weighty tome from the to-read list is definitely a necessary summer pastime.

On the other hand, I’ve also been craving the quick thrill of a short read. Something that I could consume in small sips should I choose, but equally something I could down in a gulp if the mood strikes. A novella perhaps, or a collection of short stories would fit the bill. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of turning the last page of a book and indulging in that moment of quiet reflection. With the often hectic pace of summer, sometimes crossing an item off your to-read list is exactly the form of productive satisfaction needed to keep summer lassitude from setting in.

Perhaps going to bookish extremes isn’t a bad thing. Perhaps I’ll take a page out of Mother Nature’s book and enjoy in my reading life some of those wildly divergent juxtapositions so evident during the summer months.

 

What’s happening this month?

At PQL…

Summertime is catch up time. After a month of administrative drudgery (thankfully not so much on my part!) a lot of the paperwork is out of the way for the next while, which means we’re back to doing the fun stuff of building lists and printing books. Rerouted is still on the docket, and we might even make it to Margin of Interest in the coming weeks.

In Toronto.

Don’t miss an exhibition of the art of the late poet and visual artist Joe Rosenblatt (whose book Bite Me! we recently published), on display at yumart July 6-27.

In Detroit.

Detroit Bookfest

If you’re down in my neck of the woods and are looking for something bookish to do on a Sunday in July, stop on by Detroit’s famed Eastern Market for the 3rd Annual Detroit Bookfest. Stop by Shed 3 and visit the PQL table for some new releases and a few old favourites.

In the world.

Don’t forget to pick up a few extra hours on July 5th. How else would you celebrate Work-a-holics Day?

😮 Did you know that July 17 is World Emoji Day? The 🌎 world is full of people who ❤️ emoji, so of course they’ll 🎉🎊🎈 all day long.

And June 26 is System Administrator Appreciation Day. Given the way everything seems to just grind to a halt when technology stops doing our bidding, this holiday needs more recognition!

 

From the porcupette’s corner.

Quill fans, I feel like I’ve caught a peek into the future. In a way I have. Last week, I devoted almost all my time to reading submissions and beginning to sketch out what the next few seasons will look like. There are still a few question marks here and there, but honestly, there’s so much to be excited about! Can’t wait to share them with you in the coming weeks and months.

Me, peeking into my magical telescope (my email inbox) and seeing the future (in terms of books to be published by PQL in the next short while). It’s a very narrow range, so please don’t ask me for lotto tips.

This week, it’s back to my regularly scheduled programming—which is to say I’m once again attending to all the editing tasks that seem to pile up on my desk this time of year. Wish me luck!

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Thanks for stopping by to see what’s in store for the coming month. We hope you’re enjoying your summer so far, and that you’re finding lots of time to tackle your summer reads—be they long short and steamy or long and literary!

Cheers,Steph


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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.