A Canadian book blog: Publishing, marketing, books and technology from a Canadian perspective

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Undeniably Good

James’ novel Up in Ontario is reviewed in Prairie Fire magazine.

Here’s the review:

Sometime about 1996 James and a group of friends (I tagged on the next season) were frustrated by literary magazines of the time. In particular, we were all frustrated that the venues for new authors and new writing seemed to be reserved for already published authors. It seemed to us that already published authors didn’t count as new authors. How did you get published as an author? So Jesse James Press was born, a chapbook press with the mandate to publish good writing from unpublished authors. The authors retained all copyright but granted Jesse James Press the right to publish the work in chapbook form. No royalties were paid and the money the press made went to production and promotion.

James and I worked to get the chapbooks into bookstores, McNally Robinson was amazingly helpful as was the now-defunct Heaven Art and Book Cafe. And we got the works reviewed, Geist and Broken Pencil were the best supporters at the time.

There were 9-12 chapbooks produced over 3 years, 3 of the authors are now published authors, one chapbook won the Chapbook of the Year Award, which was part of the Manitoba Literary Awards, and the whole venture was my introduction to the publishing world.

Now I told you that story so I could tell you this one.

Bloody hell, now we’re reviewed in Prairie Fire. Well, James is. It was Up in Ontario, the chapbook, that won the Chapbook of the Year Award, James was one of the now published authors, and I love everything about the book, which is why I’m so happy others like it too.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Congratulations McNally Robinson

Quill and Quire is reporting that Holly and Paul McNally of McNally Robinson Booksellers have won the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Prairies region.

McNally Robinson is one of my favourite bookstores. Their flagship store is in Winnipeg and there is a great spiral staircase up to the children’s section. The store is a bit like a garden. There’s a cobblestone-style path through the store, rich greens, great little seats, a fantastic cafe, and the staff are phenomenal.

If you are ever in Winnipeg, McNally’s is worth a visit.

My romance with James even started in the bookstore, we were on a field trip to the newly opened store. I bought Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy and James lent me Ernest Buckler’s The Mountain and the Valley. It was a big day.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Harbour Publishing and Boston Legal

Last night James and I saw an ad for the ABC drama Boston Legal. I don’t keep up with the TV news but this morning in Quill and Quire I read that a Canadian book by Harbour Publishing—fine folks—will be featured. A bit out of date considering the show aired on Oct 11 (yesterday), but pretty exciting nonetheless.

The show was set in a BC town that is engaged in a real-life dispute between environmentalists and fish farmers, in particular about the negative effects of farmed fish on the wild salmon stock.

The book is A Stain Upon the Sea: West Coast Salmon Farming, which is a collection of essays.

Go Harbour!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

While I Was Away

Just catching up on the news:

Yahoo launches podcast site (Washington Post). http://www.podcasts.yahoo.com

Bible group spreads word by SMS (cnn.com). The Bible Society in Australia launched a SMS translation of Bible verses: “In da Bginnin God cre8d da heavens & da earth.” The word of God dispensed via cell phones, oh dear.

Oct. 29, Business Blogging 101 seminar in Seattle: Business Blogging 101 is a full-day workshop for those new to blogging. Get up and running with an effective weblog strategy. Cost is $195.00 and includes lunch and continental breakfast. Great speakers: Molly E. Holzschlag, Robert Scoble, DL Byron, Buzz Bruggeman and Steve Broback. http://www.blogbusinesssummit.com/seminars/

Home Sweet Home

Yahoo! Last night James and I returned from Greece and Turkey. James’ brother picked us up at the airport and delivered us to his house for turkey dinner. That was awesome, even though I was ready to fall asleep after the first sip of wine, ok, it was even before the wine. We woke at 5 am, caught the 6 am airport shuttle, got on the 9 am flight to London, then the 3:30 pm flight to Vancouver. And after a full 22 hours we were back in Vancouver.

Quick trip review:
London was amazing and I cannot believe how many things we saw in 3 days, it was an unbelievable time. Then we went off to Greece and took the ferry to Santorini island for some R&R. Again we had fabulous dinners and some Santorini white wine. James and I scootered across the island. Scooter buddies. We went to a red sand beach, a black sand one, and a white sand beach. These are pebbly beaches rather than soft sand.

We practically missed our flight from Athens to Leros. The train was delayed 2x and we got to the airport 15 minutes before the flight. The agent told us we couldn’t get on the flight but we begged. Eventually she let us go with our bag, which we had to drag to the passenger gate and then beg security to push it through the scanner. That was no small feat! In the end we made the plane and I was thrilled it was Greece and not Canada. I doubt we would have had any luck getting on a Canadian flight 15 min. before departure.

In Leros we met up with a bunch of other couples for our sailing trip. Two weeks sailing from Greece to Turkey. It was so incredible. Greek food was fresh and lovely and cheap. The islands were beautiful and then Turkey was even better. The food was better tasting and the landscape was brilliant, lots of red rock and cliffs.

After the sailing trip we had 8 days beating around Turkey. We took minibuses and coaches to Ephesus, where the ruins of an ancient city exist. That was really cool—3,000 year old rocks set in amazing cliff faces. I was wishing I had a geologist friend along to explain the land formations.

We flew to Istanbul for our final 4 days and the night we arrived was the first day of Ramadan. Around the Blue Mosque were all sorts of street vendors and every night there was a market with sausage and corn, kebabs, donars, cotton candy, twirl candy, dates and almonds. I loved it.

I still can’t believe how much we did in 5 weeks, now I feel like I can barely think about going back to work and regular life.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Ramadan in Istanbul

James and I arrived in Istanbul yesterday at sundown, the exact time that Muslims were finishing the first day of Ramadan.

Ramadan is celebrated in the 9th month of the Muslim calendar, which means it occurs at a different time each year. It is believed that the Holy Quran was sent down from heaven and the Fast of Ramadan lasts an entire month. During this time Muslims cannot eat or drink during daylight. At the end of the fast there is prayer then a big meal. They get up before sunlight, about 4 am, to eat again then sleep and go to work. Lots of people complain of headaches but I’m not sure if that is from the fast or because they cannot smoke.

Istanbul is the perfect place to be at the moment. Every night there is a festival and food vendors around the Blue Mosque. We had popcorn and dates and almonds yesterday, and today we had a traditional dessert made of milk and walnuts and cranberries. I had a spicy sausage and James had a donar plus more popcorn. I’d like to have a twirl candy tomorrow. It looks ghastly sweet and I drank pomegranet juice tonight so I was not up for any more sweetness. The festival lasts all month so I think I can guess what we are doing for the next couple of days.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Successfully Navigated the Dolmush

Dolmush is the phonetic pronunciation for the mini-buses that ferry people across the great land of Turkey. James and I arrived at the bus stop at 8 am, then we took a coach to Aydin. We are staying at Jimmy’s Place in Selcuk. The c has a cidilla, which means the town is pronounced Sell-chuck.

The hostel seems pretty fun and we have a nice room and I’m hoping that the shower pummels me with water tomorrow morning. Showering from a garden hose has gotten a little tiresome.

We went to the Ephesus Museum today, then climbed the hill to St. John’s Basillica, built in 58 AD. The ruins here are incredible. Tomorrow we visit Ephesus, which is the largest ancient city still, kind of, intact. (I don’t know if that is true.)

At 6 pm we leave for Istanbul, the final leg of our trip.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Get the Hell Out of Dodge

Ok not Dodge but Marmaris. James and I originally planned to go to Rhodes from Marmaris but now we are going to Epheseus and we do not know how to get there. Marmaris is a busy tourist trap that we must flee. I do not know if we will have to pay for both nights here or not, we are trying to leave 1 day earlier. It is all complicated and my least favourite part of travelling. That and not being able to find the apostrophe key. No conjunctions until we leave Turkey.

Just in: shift 2 is apostrophe. Excellent.

James and I left Keci Buku today. Our boatmates left at 5:30 this morning and the sky was chucking down the rain. That is when we found the sky light leaked. About 8 L of water collected in tupperware. It was quite the party. Thankfully the rain stopped and we left around 11 am.

The rest of the itinerary is in the air. We are going to have to trust the crazy carpet salesman who has a friend in Selcuk with a hostel. Sounds dodgey, but we’re getting out of Dodge.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Berbur of Bozburun

Pictures are pending. I would like to upload some to the site but unfortunately everything is in Turkish and I cannot understand a word.

Yesterday James went to the berbur of Bozburun, the barbar. It was quite the experience. Big straight edge blade, the pinching of the skin, the ear shave. All in all an interesting male ritual. The day before we went with about 10 people from another boat to a Turkish bath. The captain of the boat asked last night if it was true that we all went in the buff. Yes. I was in peels of laughter to find out that it is rather unprecedented for a group to all be buff. It is more funny because it was James and I with a bunch of 60 and 70 year olds who have been friends for years, never of course have they hung around in a hot room naked together.

A Turkish bath is a bit like a car wash. You change into a tea towel, lay on an octogan slab of marble that is steaming hot, some large Turkish man comes in and rubs you down to take off all the dead skin. Very gross. Then you are sent off for the shower. Next up is the soap, which is in a pillow case that they fill with air. When they drop the case on you there is soap foam everywhere. That was my favourite part. You have to flip over at one point and you are so soapy that you just spin right around. Second shower. Then you are off to the oil massage. The female massage was quite gentle but the sounds from the men were quite different, much like the thwapping sound at the end of a car wash. It was not a real massage more of an oil rub.

Overall it was a strange naked experience with folks I barely know but certainly know a lot more about now. The men and women are together for the entire time except the massage, and you really just have the tea towel, which the Turkish men sort of reposition every 2 minutes so they can scrub, soap, and oil.

Dirsek is our stop tonight. It is a one tavern town.

Basic impressions of Turkey: I am enjoying the landscape and food more in Turkey than Greece. The food is amazing, lots of great casserole dishes—meat with spicy sauces, onions and peppers. But everything is more expensive.

I bought two Turkish carpets yesterday.

And most important, happy birthday to Janice today and The White Rabbit tomorrow. The one taverna town tonight has no phone and it is quite surprising that we have an internet connection here in Bozburun.

Next up Istanbul.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Time’s Arrow: Turkey

We should be in Turkey today, passports stamped and arriving in Turgutreis, which is a lively little town and hopefully has a laundry facility. Turgutreis is known for spectacular sunsets and I hope to appreciate one over an evening cocktail.

Day 8 we sail south for Palamut, another fishing village. I do hope there are things I can eat. Fish allergy.

We might be able to go to Knidos, which around 400-500 BC was the key harbour in the ancient world.

Day 9 we’re off to Ova Buku, another tiny, out-of-the-way spot with a fantastic beachfront taverna. I’ve been told to expect the best home-cooked Turkish food and belly dancing. Swivel swivel, snake hips.

Day 10 we sail to Datca, and hopefully hit an ATM. Datca has several bars and a haman so perhaps a Turkish bath is in order.

Day 11 is Bozburun, a village that is home to a still-thriving wooden boat-building industry. I think there is a hammock with my name on it.

Day 12 we take a gentle run to Dirsek and celebrate James’ mom’s birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

Day 13 we sail to Keci Buku and celebrate my mom’s birthday. ALL THE BEST RABBIT.

And sadly on Day 14 we disembark and travel 30 minutes to Marmaris and back to modern-day Turkey.

We plan to hang out in Marmaris and take the ferry to Rhodes, but we eventually have to get up to Dalaman so that we can fly to Istanbul.

More adventures await us.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Time’s Arrow: Leros to Keci Buku

Today is the day James and I board our sailboat. We embark at 11 am in Lakki, which is the main harbour on Leros. We get all the details, like how to use the boat toilet, then we sail for Lipsos, island of the 42 blue-domed churches. Lipsos is a pretty untouristy place, which I’m sure will be well appreciated after the bustle of London and Athens.

The next day we head to Arki, a little island with a permanent population of 47 people. Perhaps we’ll be able to meet them all. We’re going to Manoli’s place. Manoli runs a little oasis of a taverna and is apparently quite the DJ.

Day 3 we sail to Patmos and explore the famous Monastery Island where St. John was inspired by visions to write the Book of Revelations. The 10th century monastery built by the Crusader Knights is still active and part of daily life. I’m looking forward to the bakery.

Day 4 we sail for Pandeli, day 5 Paleonissos, which has little more than a herd of goats, day 6 Vathi and up to a tiny fishing village to Poppy’s, which is a little family taverna. I hear that Poppy’s mom makes the best homemade dolmades. Then day 7 we leave for Kos at sunrise. While the skipper is dealing with the paperwork to get us into Turkey, we’re going to see the famous tree where Hippocrates supposedly taught, then we’ll enjoy a chocolate milkshake on the waterfront as recommended by the skipper.

We’re sailing with SeaScape Sailing and they sail the boat but also teach us how to sail. I think there are about 8 people per boat and they take 3 boats. The first thing they told us was to read the itinerary then ignore it. We go where the weather lets us go and some of these small islands can become inaccessible.

Next stop Turkey.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Santorini Sunsets

James and I just spent 3 really fun days on Santorini. We stayed in a hotel called Rena’s Place, which is in Fira, the main town. The hotel is off the beaten path but not so far off that you don’t know where the path is. We rented a scooter and drove around the whole island.

I am truly no stranger to peril.

We rented one scooter and James drove. The first afternoon he came to pick me up and it was like the pelican landing in The Rescuers, not sure if anyone remembers that old Disney flick. We got better.

Yesterday we went to Perissa, which is a black sand beach. It was pretty nice, then we scootered over to the Red Beach, which requires a bit of a hike in, but was really lovely. The sun set on the red sand was picture perfect.

We just spent 10 hours on a ferry, and arrived at the hotel in Athens, the one that did not honour our first reservation, and now our room is being cleaned. There was something resembling an undershirt hanging from the bathroom door and unidentificable debris on the floor. One night only and close to the train stop.

So Travis, James will sample the kalamari for me because “stay safe” also means don’t eat things you are allergic to. I did have great pasta last night with Santorini tomatoes, olive oil and garlic. And, there seems to be a large number of Mexican restaurants on the island, not sure what that is all about.

Crazy, thank you for the reminder that I am in Europe with my best buddy and clearly no hot sticky metro can beat the fact that we are away for a whole month. Bollocks to the work life. This is the life part of the work/life balance.

Tomorrow we get on a sailboat for 2 weeks, yahoo! I have nothing but exciting thoughts, but I must go to bed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Athens Arrival

James and I arrived in Athens last night. Our flight was delayed 1 hour because someone missed the plane but their bag did not. The baggage had to be unloaded and reloaded without the offending case. Such is airline travel. The British Airways’ “industrial action” with their cater also meant we had vouchers for food rather than service on the plane.

Our Athens hotel was apparently 50 m from the train station but that was not the case. Well, okay, it is probably true but there are no signs so we spent an hour wandering around, circling in really, like with prey. When we finally found Hotel Diethnes, they did not have our room. Yes, we had a reservation, but there is a conference in town and we think they double sold our room. We were transferred to Hotel Remvi, which is actually quite nice and may be better than our first choice.

James and I wanted to go to the Acropolis and the Plaka today but it is so damn hot, and we slept until 10:30 and by the time we crawled out of the hotel it was 1 pm. Now it is 2 pm and we’ve found the cool of the internet cafe.

I think I’m allergic to Greece, maybe Europe in general. There is smoking everywhere and I’m having a hard time of it, especially having come from Vancouver where it is practically a crime to even think about cigarettes. The last patron in our hotel room was clearly a smoker, it is hanging in the room. Nothing like second-second-hand smoke.

Athens reminds me a lot of Bogota, narrow streets, lots of pollution, crumbly buildings ... but I like it. Friends I spoke to who had been to Athens said I’d be disappointed, but I don’t like to set travel expectations so I haven’t been disappointed yet by a city. They each hold interesting pockets. Like right now we are on Folkinos Negri, which is a tree-lined pedestrian street. There are all sorts of cool cafe/bars and it is around lunch time so lots of locals are hanging about having coffees and icy drinks.

Being somewhere without English signs is pretty cool. I now understand the saying “it’s all Greek to me.” Sefcharisto was my word of the day yesterday. No idea how to spell it in Greek, but it means thank you.

Friday, September 09, 2005

London Highlights

James and I arrived in London on Sept 8. It was a rather long flight but not too unpleasant. A fellow who lives in our apartment, on the same floor as us, was also on the flight, and was also taking the Picadilly Line into Central London. His family lives in London so we had a rather able guide right off the bat. Thankfully my London friend advised me of the best way to get to the Victoria Services Club because neither James or I bothered to find out the address in advance. It is an adventure afterall. I knew the general area, and again, my good fortune was that I’d written down the phone number. It is on Seymour st. right near Marble Arch.

We got off the tube at Hyde Park Corner and walked through the park to get to Marble Arch, which was also our starting point this morning. We took The Original Bus tour to the 20 or so stops that hit the West End highlights. Buckingham Palace was first. Lovely, big, and tourists aplenty. Across from the Palace is St. James Park and the entrance is Canada Gate. We rode the bus over to Westminster Abbey, which is also stunning. The Abbey is huge and it took us a very long time to go through. It is like IKEA in that you are cattle herded along a particular route. Lots of people stop and hold up the queue. My favourite part was the Quire, which is where the choir sits. It is three rows on either side of the aisle, with little red-shaded lamps. Chapter House was also interesting. It is a round room with frescos and medieval floor tiles. The images and text on the tiles are worn in many places but in Latin it says, “As the rose is the flower of flowers, so is this the house of houses.”

We went across to Big Ben, “look kids Parliament”, then got back on the bus for St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was closing as we drove by so we stayed on the bus and carried on to London Tower, which a friend told us to avoid at all costs. So much for the advice of friends. We had to get on a river boat at the London Tower Pier. It wasn’t so bad. The London Tower is where Anne was beheaded. The four towers of London Tower date back to 1078.

It started to rain while we were on the boat. It is London afterall. Now we are in an internet cafe trying to figure out how to get to Watford to watch a rugby match on Sunday.

Tomorrow, St. Paul’s Cathedral, lunch at the Old Miter, which is where James’ grandfather used to hang out during the war, then hopefully to Sadler’s Wells to see the Alvin Ailey Amercian Dance Theatre (which is sold out, but I hope they have one ticket somewhere). James is going off to the British Museum, which is open until 8 pm. I’ll meet him there after the show. I don’t think I can be in a museum for more than a couple of hours. I get artefact overload.

Now, there’s a city out there to discover. May be off to Ronnie Scott’s ...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Trafford pledges $1.6 million for endangered languages

Print-on-demand publisher Trafford, based in Victoria, pledged $1.6 million on August 31 to help in the global race to document and teach endangered indigenous languages.

The donation was announced at WITFOR 2005 in Botswana, where over 800 delegates were gathered to discuss ways to give those in the developing world access to technology.

$1.6 million is a tremendous gift. The full press release is available on the Trafford website.