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PQ Weekly Roundup: 07 Jul 2017

pqroundup2Every 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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Thanks for checking in on the PQ Weekly Roundup. See you next week!

Cheers,sig


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Porcupine’s Quill: News for July

OK everyone, take a deeeep breath. All together, now. That’s right. Do you smell that? That, my friends, is patriotism. And also BBQ. But it’s mostly patriotism.

Today, of course, our friends south of the border are celebrating Independence Day. May your day be filled with the three b’s of summertime: beer, burgers and books!

But we Canadians have had a bit more of a to-do this year. Our Canada 150 celebration has been building and building and building for months! It’s been a pleasure to see all of the cultural activities and historical reminiscences in the lead up to the big day.

“From far and wide, oh Caaaaanada…” Come on guys. Let’s show some true patriot love!

I especially loved all of the Canada-themed booklists floating around on the interwebs—retailers like Indigo and Amazon gave us their picks, as did media organizations like Reader’s Digest and CBC. Sometimes, in our culture dominated by bestsellers and blockbuster series, it’s nice to be reminded of the talented crop of home-grown writers eking out a living right here in Canada.

Need a few suggestions for patriotic reads? Look no further.

Portraits of Canadian WritersThe Bird in the StillnessSailor GirlPortraits of Canadian Writers is a celebration of some of Canada’s most iconic authors. Full of beautiful photos and memorable anecdotes, this book will give you a glimpse into the true personalities of our country’s literary luminaries.

If poetry’s more your style, try Joe Rosenblatt’s The Bird in the Stillness. This book revels in the beauty of the natural world, transporting you to the breathtaking forests of British Columbia.

Need some fiction? Pick up Sailor Girl and travel the Great Lakes with a rebellious photography student searching for her place in the world among the unruly young men and tough-minded women of the Lakes.

This is just a small sampling of the extraordinary Canadian writers and stories you’ll find on our website. Take a browse and choose your next great Canadian read today!

 

What’s happening this month…

At PQL.

All of our Spring 2017 books are officially in print. Don’t forget to pick up our latest—Margaret Gracie’s Plastic—which just launched in Victoria on June 22nd. Now, stay tuned for our next season of outstanding books in the fall.

In Detroit.

Detroit Bookfest

We’ll be attending the first annual Detroit Festival of Books this year at Detroit’s iconic Eastern Market. If you’re in Michigan, or from Windsor-Essex County, do stop by Shed 5 on Sunday, July 16 for a browse. We’d love to see you!

On the air.

George A. Walker will be making an appearance on Hunters Bay Radio. Tune in to Christine Cowley’s “Storylines” on Thursday, July 20 to hear from this talented wood engraver and all-around cool guy. Tune in from wherever you are online at http://www.huntersbayradio.com/.

In the world.

July 7 is Chocolate Day. I am totally behind this, though I do, in fact, believe every day should be Chocolate Day.

July 13 is Embrace Your Geekness Day. Perhaps I will dedicate this day to puttering around with the website and coding ebooks. It just feels like it fits.

And finally, July 20 is Lollipop Day. What do I think about Lollipop Day? Well, THIS.

 

From the porcupette’s corner.

What is this? Where am I? Could I possibly be … home?

This past month, I’ve been a wandering porcupette, jetsetting to New York and then to Chicago (twice!) for BookExpo, Printers Row and ALA. As always, I had a blast chatting with all of my fellow book lovers, and even better, I came home with a fair few galleys to enjoy.

Look at all the people waiting to get into the ALA exhibition hall!

Of course, in between all this travelling, we’ve been busy finishing up the latest grant application (finally done), nominating a few authors for some prestigious awards (fingers crossed) and tackling the always-necessary business of promoting books and authors.

Next on the agenda? Some website updates, a summer contest or two, and then we’re on to preparing for the Fall 2017 season. Looking forward to telling you more about the great books on their way to you soon.

Cheers,


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PQ Weekly Roundup: 30 Jun 2017

pqroundup2Every 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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That’s it for this pre-Canada Day weekly roundup. Hope you have a wonderful long weekend celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday!

Enjoy,sig


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GUEST POST: Margaret Gracie Launches Debut Novel Plastic

We’re very pleased to bring you a guest post by Plastic author Margaret Gracie.

Plastic is a collection of linked short stories that tells the tale of Debbie Pearce, a former pageant queen and model who struggles with society’s expectations—and her own—when it comes to beauty, motherhood, and the American Dream.

Margaret launched her collection on June 22 at the central branch of the Victoria Public Library. Today, she is sharing with us an account of the big day, from initial feelings of literary celebrity to the warm afterglow of the evening. Read on for a taste of what it feels like to launch a literary debut!

 


 

At long last, the release!

Wow. All I can say is what a night! The book launch was so much fun. And it opened a tiny window for me into my character Debbie’s world because for those 90 minutes I was a celebrity, lapping up the attention and kudos.

Book Table - Plastic

The book table was a popular spot!

I have to give a huge thank you to Carl Cavanagh and the Victoria Public Library for hosting the event in their community room. It was a great space with plenty of room for the 44 attendees, the book table, food tables and the podium. For any locals looking for a venue, please consider the library. Carl made the evening completely hassle-free.

A view of the crowd as people settled into their seats.

I also want to thank everyone who came out and bought a book. It was amazing to meet new people, connect with old friends and bring people from the literary community together. I received so many compliments about the cover and the quality of the binding. That truly pleased me because it was one of the reasons I signed with the Porcupine’s Quill. They did an excellent job on the book.

What a thrill to read excerpts from three of the stories in Plastic and to answer questions from the audience. I don’t know if readers realize how exciting it is for a writer to be asked questions about the characters or the writing process. Suddenly, the world I created is real to a room full of people. What started as an idea, a wish, has taken on a life of its own and will mean something different to each person who picks up the book.

I want to thank Liz Walker for introducing me and being such a poised and polished speaker. And a huge thank to Liam Bagley for playing guitar while people mingled. He is an up-and-coming star.

Enjoying the afterglow on a patio with my friend Karis.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the book and the characters. You can find me on Goodreads or here on my blog.

 


 

Margaret Gracie has worked as an ESL instructor, translator, communications consultant and as a writer and editor for the federal government. Her short stories have been published in Canadian and American journals as well as in a British anthology. Plastic is her first published book of fiction. She currently lives in Victoria, BC in her dream home overlooking the harbour.

Click here to learn more about the book, or to purchase your copy.

Many thanks to Margaret for allowing us to republish this post, which initially appeared on her blog. Go on and check it out to keep in the know about what’s going on in her writing life!

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PQ Weekly Roundup: 23 Jun 2017

pqroundup2Every 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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Well, wasn’t that a varied crop of book links? I’m off to Chicago for the American Library Association’s Annual Conference. Looking forward to a weekend full of books!

Hope you all have a wonderful first weekend of summer as well,sig


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Pulled from the Pages: The Museum of Possibilities

Barbara SibbaldSince the release of her outstanding collection of short stories, The Museum of Possibilities, Barbara Sibbald has been on a bit of a roll. With a successful launch, some fantastic reviews and a couple of online and radio interviews under her belt, she’s gearing up for several appearances in the coming weeks.

Today, you can tune into CBC Radio’s All in a Day to hear her talk with Alan Neal about her book and the writing process.

On Thursday, June 22, you can meet her in Kingston. She’ll be reading with fellow CanLit ladies Diane Schoemperlen and Terry Griggs at Novel Idea.

On Sunday, June 25, she’ll be signing copies of The Museum of Possibilities at Perfect Books in Ottawa.

And, on Wednesday, June 28, she’ll rejoin Diane and Terry in Toronto for a reading at Ben McNally Books.

So at this point, there’s really no excuse not to know about The Museum of Possibilities! But in case you need a sample to whet your appetite, read on for a excerpt (a personal favourite of mine!) from the book.

 

About the Book

The Museum of Possibilities

In The Museum of Possibilities, the future is limited only by the imagination—and the choices that we make. This exhibit contains, among others:

  • a minor government functionary, forced by an apparent hoarder to face the consequences of his risk-averse life;
  • a driven scientist who learns—too late—the disturbing cost of her blind ambition;
  • the residents of the small town of Madawan, whose domestic purgatories include plotting death by dairy or pondering the merits of fresh produce in predicting adultery; and
  • a military brat named Wanda, who navigates the muddy waters of adolescence and learns about sacrifice, sexuality and the everyday difficulties of sharing life with another.

The quirky short stories in this collection focus on pivotal moments of intense longing—for love, for power, for fame, for freedom, for revenge, and perhaps most of all, for connection in an increasingly disaffected world.

 

Pulled from the Pages

Best Before

I judge people by the groceries they bring through my checkout. I know this isn’t fair—they could be buying for their physically challenged aunt or their alcohol-abusing neighbour—but I do it anyway. It gives me something interesting to think about at work. My favourite customers are the pasty-faced anemic couple who come through every Thursday evening, buggy brimming with Fritos, Diet Coke, boil-in-a-bag entrees and microwaveable TV dinners. Nothing fresh. Nothing green.

*

I have this theory. I measure how sexually satisfied people are by the amount of junk food they buy. The more junk, the more the need for oral gratification, intense munching in front of the television. My anemic couple is obviously having sexual difficulties.

I’ve been coming home with huge bags of Doritos myself these days.

*

My wife comes to bed with pointed metal clips in her permed hair to keep it buoyant—metal life preservers for her sinking coiffure. I kiss her carefully to avoid getting impaled on these instruments of beauty. Her cheek is slightly greasy with moisturizer. She is trying to preserve her skin. I read the packages: ‘Unique moisture complex helps smooth away wrinkle lines. Enhances skin hydration through efficient water delivery system.’ I imagine her bloated, completely hydrated without any lines at all, just a smooth oval with perfectly coiffed hair on top.

*

I’m the assistant manager at Jim’s FOOD on the corner of Willow and First in downtown Madawan. Jim is huge—a lunar eclipse of a man. He is always pinching my upper arm, urging me to try the FOOD pasta line. ‘You’re not much of an endorsement,’ he says in his PA-system voice, loudly guffawing afterwards, making me wonder when I can retire. I stand at my cash register, mind immobile, fingers moving:

Jamaican bell peppers — vegetable code 69 — $1.33
Chicken noodle soup (special) — 89 ¢
The Ultimate Tampons (a unique FOOD product) — $4.29

During quiet moments I sometimes read the ingredients on the packages. My favourite part is the ‘May contain’ list. I make up my own: Life may contain unusual amounts of general malaise sodium glutamate. Relationships may contain dehydrogenated unhappiness. I marvel at how little I know about the science of the food industry.

*

My wife’s shoulder pads are getting bigger. They used to be scant, barely accentuating her natural curves. Now she sticks thick foam pads directly onto her bare shoulders. Sweaty foam against her smooth skin. ‘In-Shape’ they’re called. ‘Enhances your wardrobe and flatters your figure.’ She looks like a quarterback. She’s calling a passing game but never follows her own signals. I don’t know what will happen next.

Her shoulder pads are gigantic now—offensive tackle size. Soon she’ll have to turn sideways to pass through the bedroom doorway.

*

I’m bruising the produce. I caught myself gripping grapefruits the other day, one in each hand, squeezing gently. I glanced furtively at the customer who was mercifully diving into the bottom of her cart to retrieve a bag of Oreos. I quickly keyed in ‘Grapefruit, 2 @ 99¢’—and grabbed the porterhouse steaks.

Today my anemic couple bought a bunch of bananas. This depresses me beyond measure.

My wife has started using strange beauty products. She squeezes her eyelashes with metal tongs to curl them. It looks like she’s plucking her eyeballs out. She’s bought Jolen to bleach the shadowy hairs on her upper lip. I liked their scant darkness, the way drops of sweat would bead there when we made love. Now they are pale, almost invisible, totally innocuous.

Sometimes she uses an apricot facial mask. ‘Deep-cleanses pores and gives skin a luminous sheen.’ Her eyes peer out of the stark white as she files her nails and watches Sex and the City reruns. She can’t laugh—the mask is too tight—so she chortles and snorts.

*

I read: ‘Kool-Aid may contain tricalcium phosphate.’ Millions of kids are gulping water softener. I glance up from the cash register and am surprised to see my wife coming into the store. She never does the grocery shopping, food is my business. I peer around my cash register and see her shoulders sway down the cleaning goods/toiletries aisle. The muzak seems louder; I have to ask Mr Leeuwen to repeat what he’s said.

‘I have a coupon for the Premium Plus,’ he bellows.

I forget to charge for three tins of Friskies cat food. I don’t care. Then she’s standing at my cash. She’s started to wear a dark shade of lipstick—‘Raspberry Stain’ it’s called. I have covertly watched her face in the mirror as she applies it, carefully outlining her mouth with a matching pencil, using a small brush to apply the lipstick in controlled strokes. She is impossible to get near now. I fear her huge, red, indelible smudges.

*

I say hello or something, smile grudgingly. She’s buying an oversized bag of FOOD cotton balls and two yellowish-red mangoes. I put them in a plastic FOOD bag. The mangoes are surprisingly heavy, ripe. I can’t believe she’s buying fresh fruit. I avoid her eyes, fearful I might betray my suspicion. My theory. I take the money and give her change.

‘See you later,’ I mutter as I turn to the next customer.

*

At supper that night I watch her mouth as she eats. She doesn’t swallow one mouthful before inserting the next. I glimpse her molars mashing pork chop with green beans with potatoes. She takes her plate to the sink and returns with one of the mangoes and a sharp paring knife. She carefully removes all the peel, then bites in. Juice oozes out of the corners of her mouth and dribbles down her chin. She doesn’t offer me any.

 

 

If that’s not enough to convince you that you need to add this book to your collection, I don’t know what is.

Don’t forget to tune into All in a Day! Happy reading,


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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.