Are all internet sites created equal?


Okay, it’s confession time. I’m a snob, an elitist, and worse. I believe that my many years as a university teacher of rhetoric, and my equal amount of time as a writer of several novels, poetry, essays, and more, qualify me as a specialist in those areas. In addition, my broad and deep background in the liberal arts has taught me what constitutes good and bad writing/thinking. I don’t claim to be the final arbiter of taste, but I do believe we can learn to recognize when fiction (or any other kind of writing) doesn’t measure up. Continue reading “Are all internet sites created equal?”

How does writing novels give birth to the author?

The road to publishing a novel is a long one. When I reviewed my notes for my first published novel, Fling!, I was amazed to discover I had started working on it in 1999. When I first began, I had hoped to write a lyrical novel a la Virginia Woolf. Then my husband called my attention to a review of another Canadian writer’s book, Barbara Gowdy’s Mister Sandman. When I read of her comic sense, “both inventive and tough,” I realized again how much I wanted to and can write in this way. But I also had resisted it because the style seemed limited to certain topics. It’s difficult to write beautifully and be funny, and I was letting my desire for beauty inhibit the progression of what later became Fling! Continue reading “How does writing novels give birth to the author?”

A Reader’ Evolution: How Annie Oakley & Wonder Woman taught me to read!

girl-flying-on-book-2970038_1920As a pre-TV child (television arrived in Calgary in the early 50s, about ten years after it appeared in the U.S.), radio dramas fed my imagination: Boston Blackie; Suspense Theatre; and The Green Hornet come immediately to mind. Though they provided the plot and dialogue, I was able to supply the images myself, far more dramatic than what any TV director could create. In my young mind, Boston Blackie was the white knight in spite of a name that implied otherwise. Evenings spent shivering in front of a radio, shivering from glorious fear and not cold. The room crackling with drama—suspense. And I was an important participant: the program needed my imagination to give it life. Continue reading “A Reader’ Evolution: How Annie Oakley & Wonder Woman taught me to read!”

Promoting Literacy in Dangerous Times

Writing is such a major part of my life that I rarely ask myself why I do it. I write because it’s as necessary to me as eating or sleeping. But I also write for other reasons. The very act of writing forces me to examine what I’m thinking about people and events, and it causes me to read with greater attention to language’s many nuances, from the way metaphor expands our vision and creates relationships between unlike things to the connotations certain words and phrases have. In other words, it causes me to more closely pay attention to the written word.

letters-67046_1920With a new president who can’t seem to create a coherent sentence or thought, promoting literacy seems more important than ever. The ability to read and write is essential to a healthy democratic society. If we can’t research the various problems we face today, looking at them from multiple angles with the help of dedicated investigative journalists, then we are living in a vacuum, a non-life. We also are easily fooled by slogans and superficial thinking—fake news.

When I taught freshmen composition, during the first class, I said that Rhetoric would be the most important class they took that semester. Most didn’t believe me. I always asked how many would have signed up for the class if it weren’t a requirement. Sometimes one or two held up their hand. Sometimes no one did. But by the end of the semester, nearly all agreed that their critical thinking skills had deepened. They also were more adept at reading for nuance—for subtext. For discerning what was being conveyed between the lines. Equally important was their perception that they could express themselves more clearly, thereby actually communicating. We can’t convey our thoughts and feelings if we’re unable to write coherent sentences!

Every day I’m grateful for those writers who devote their lives to this craft. Reading allows me to enter others’ reality and simultaneously enlarge my own. I recently wrote a blog post about Per Pettersen’s novel I Refuse. While reading the book, I felt what it was like to be a working class Norwegian man. I inhabited his psyche and experienced the bareness of his words. He didn’t say much, but what he did say resonated, having an impact on others and on me.

I feel privileged to be part of this endeavor to create other worlds from my experiences and my imagination, and I appreciate those who join me on this journey. Reading, deeply and widely—not just twitter posts or Facebook messages—expands our knowledge of the universe and of ourselves.





Fairy Tales

I woke in the night thinking about fairy tales.  I had received an email yesterday from Stephen Fraser, a literary agent with the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, expressing his interest in representing my latest novel, Curva Peligrosa.  Since he was the agent I was hoping for, I was delighted.  This recent development was on my mind, then, as I listened to my husband’s even breathing in bed next to me.

After Stephen had read the first 50 pages, he emailed me, claiming my writing has the potency of folk or fairy tale.  I was pleased that he picked up on that  aspect of Curva Peligrosa since I think of it as an adult fairy tale.  From the time I learned how to read, fairy tales, the world of mythos, nourished me and fed my curiosity about life and the world.

My parents had purchased a set of the Books of Knowledge, wonderful, fat red volumes that I browsed whenever I had the chance.  At the center of each book was a special section of nursery rhymes, folk, and fairy tales.  They were the heart of each encyclopedia, and I believe they continue to be the heart of literature.  The heart of civilization in fact.  The Books of Knowledge contained much of the everyday, mundane world (not that there aren’t amazing things in the everyday world as well), but at their core waited these marvelous stories, nuggets to fuel the reader’s imagination and propel him/her forward.   They inform much of what I write.