Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vancouver International Writer's Festival

The VIWF has, sadly, just come to a close for another year. I never seem to have enough time to get to all the events I would ideally like to but this year I was fortunate enough to see quite a few nonetheless.

Here are my personal 'notable mentions' from the writer's I went to see:

Sarah Waters - The author of Tipping the Velvet, among others, spoke about her new book, The Little Stranger. I've been trying to finish this book for a while now, not because it isn't a great read - it is - but because it keeps me up at night. Very spooky book. Perfect for this time of year. The Little Stranger was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize this year.

Michael Crummey - Canadian author of River Thieves and The Wreckage. His new book, Galore, is completely different from anything I've read before. Incredibly entertaining book full of fascinating Newfoundland folklore. Galore has been nominated for the 2009 Governor General's Literary Award.

Audrey Niffenegger - The author of the bestseller The Time Traveler's Wife was promoting her new book, Her Fearful Symmetry. Very interesting woman and equally interesting and original new book.

Colin McAdam - A favorite new author...and also a Canadian. His first book, Some Great Thing, was nominated for a number of awards. He was at the Festival promoting his new book, Fall, which has just been nominated for the Giller Prize. If you ever have an opportunity to see McAdam read live, just go. He's as entertaining as they come.

Daria Salamon - I am so glad I had the chance to see her read from her book The Prairie Bridesmaid. Daria, a Winnipeg native, is fresh and funny and raw, both in person and in her writing. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her and am laughing a lot through her first novel.

Talented writer's with fabulous new books, each one worth reading.

And now I am off to read my very first advanced copy of a book: Marian Keyes' latest, not yet released, The Brightest Star in the Sky. Can't tell you how excited I was to come home from the Writer's Festival to this in the mail (indeed, I lead a sheltered little life...and I'm ok with that).

Marian Keyes' books are very much my guilty pleasure. Her writing is witty, intelligent and wonderfully entertaining. She has an ability to take a serious topic, make it accessible and palpable so it resonates in some way to just about any reader, while, at the same time, making it laugh out loud funny. A definite crowd pleaser, especially if that crowd happens to be primarily female.

If nothing else, having this blog (a.k.a. a vehicle to promote the books and authors I enjoy) is allowing me to get my hands on a few advanced copies of future bestsellers. Nice. I'll take that. Thank you very much Penguin Group (Canada)!

Ciao for now,


My Top 34 List

Creating my Top 34 List for my 34th year was not as easy as I anticipated...hence my delay with posting it. Well, that wouldn't be the only reason for the delay. Life seemed to have other plans for me, as it often does.

At the end of the day, I ended up with over 55 items on the list (thank you to all who contributed!), which will certainly make next year's list creation a whole lot easier.

So without further ado, here is the list that will be shaping my year ahead (in no particular order):

1. I will have an article published in some form of print media.
2. I will be vacationing in France and Italy this year.
3. I will fall in love (...cheesy as it may sound, it just feels like the right time...again).
4. I will be redefining my career (more to come on this one).
5. I will cook a new recipe every week. Believe it or not, this one is a huge stretch for me.
6. I will take snowboarding lessons.
7. I will take a progressive dance class and perform again this year. My muscles are already aching.
8. I will get my front teeth fixed. Not exciting, I realize, but I have put this on hold for far too long.
9. I will get to New York this year...and if I plan it right, I will be able to take in a literary festival while I'm there.
10. I will become involved with TED in some capacity this year (http://www.ted.com/). This is going to take some creativity and a tremendous amount of work on my part but it is a dream of mine to be involved in their network.
11. I will take a ride on a tugboat (don't ask...always wanted to...has to do with my dad and the stories read to me in my childhood).
12. I will read an economics book...cover to cover. As much as I love to read, I'm not as excited about this one but would really like to learn more. I'm thinking the classic, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. Good thing I've given myself a year for this one.
13. [I am unable to publish this particular one...but rest assured, it's a good one;-)].
14. I will ride on a train for the first time.
15. I will complete the outline for my (first) book.
16. I will run a 10K...and enjoy it...in under 60 minutes effortlessly.
17. I will rent a car and take a solo road trip.
18. I will treat my mom to a day at the spa with me. She, who has never treated herself to anything like this, will likely say no so I'll have to be a bit crafty.
19. I will go ATV'g with my brother.
20. I will finally go kayaking.
21. I will get a Brazilian wax. What's a little pain for curiosity's sake?
22. I will make a microloan to a Grameen recipient. An amazing organization founded by Noble Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus who wrote Banker to the Poor: http://www.grameen-info.org/.
23. I will take on a new teaching/public speaking gig and get back to what I love to do.
24. I will visit the Louvre in Paris...finally!
25. I will host a dinner party for 8. That would be appetizers, main course and dessert...all homemade...all out of my comfort zone.
26. I will learn to speak and read French (I didn't say 'well').
27. I will have lunch in a vineyard.
28. I will visit Powell's Books in Portland.
29. I will finally get to Tofino this year.
30. I will either do a public reading of my own material or stand up comedy on an amateur night. The idea of either is already making me nauseous.
31. I will take a ballet class again. That's not the scary part. The scary part is actually getting back into a leotard!
32. I will paint and hang a canvas in my home - done and done, quite recently actually. This one I will do again.
33. I will volunteer with a kids book drive and donate time and books to charity. This one is already underway as I am getting involved with Room to Read. A great book by John Wood and a great NGO. Check them out at http://www.roomtoread.org/.
34. I will take a writing class.

All I can say is I better be making some serious coin this year to ensure I get to all of these places and experience all of these things. I'm certainly putting that out to the universe.

Ciao for now,