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


Reading and Writing

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Advent — Leaving the Sea

Leaving the Sea: Stories


Love this cover. Reminds me of The Flame Alphabet, which is his previous book. I loved the writing but couldn’t get into the story (too dark for me as a new sleep-deprived mom, it was about children’s voices killing their parents) so I’m looking forward to reading these short stories instead.

Considered one of the most innovative and vital writers of his generation, Ben Marcus’s new collection showcases 15 tales of modern anxieties and peculiarities.

Ben Marcus is the author of three books of fiction: The Age of Wire and String, Notable American Women, and The Flame Alphabet, and he is the editor of The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories. His stories have appeared in Harper’s, The New Yorker, Granta, Electric Literature, The Paris Review, McSweeney’s, Tin House, and Conjunctions. He has received the Berlin Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers’ Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in fiction, three Pushcart Prizes, and the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Advent — Top 100 Books

Critics Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo pick the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923—the beginning of TIME. And, I’d read whatever Lev tells me to read. I’ve bolded the ones I have read below. I guess this is my new “to-read” list.

See the full article for links and info on how the list was created.

A - B

The Adventures of Augie March
All the King’s Men
American Pastoral
An American Tragedy
Animal Farm
Appointment in Samarra
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
The Assistant
At Swim-Two-Birds

The Berlin Stories
The Big Sleep
The Blind Assassin

Blood Meridian
Brideshead Revisited
The Bridge of San Luis Rey

C - D

Call It Sleep
The Catcher in the Rye
A Clockwork Orange

The Confessions of Nat Turner
The Corrections
The Crying of Lot 49
A Dance to the Music of Time
The Day of the Locust
Death Comes for the Archbishop
A Death in the Family
The Death of the Heart
Dog Soldiers

F - G

The French Lieutenant’s Woman
The Golden Notebook

Go Tell it on the Mountain
Gone With the Wind
The Grapes of Wrath

Gravity’s Rainbow
The Great Gatsby

H - I

A Handful of Dust
The Heart is A Lonely Hunter
The Heart of the Matter
A House for Mr. Biswas
I, Claudius
Infinite Jest
Invisible Man

L - N

Light in August
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Lord of the Flies
The Lord of the Rings

The Moviegoer
Lucky Jim
The Man Who Loved Children
Midnight’s Children
Mrs. Dalloway

Naked Lunch
Native Son
Never Let Me Go

O - R

On the Road
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The Painted Bird
Pale Fire
A Passage to India
Play It As It Lays
Portnoy’s Complaint
The Power and the Glory
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Rabbit, Run
The Recognitions
Red Harvest
Revolutionary Road

S - T

The Sheltering Sky
Slaughterhouse Five
Snow Crash
The Sot-Weed Factor
The Sound and the Fury
The Sportswriter
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
The Sun Also Rises

Their Eyes Were Watching God
Things Fall Apart
To Kill a Mockingbird
To the Lighthouse
Tropic of Cancer

U - W

Under the Net
Under the Volcano
White Noise
White Teeth
Wide Sargasso Sea

There are a couple of letters there that need attention.

Read more: TIME.com http://entertainment.time.com/2005/10/16/all-time-100-novels/slide/all/#ixzz2nsdhtOyf

Monday, December 16, 2013

Advent — Bookshelf Porn


Why are book lovers obsessed with bookshelves? Maybe because our imaginations are so vivid that we just like to look at books and spaces for reading those books and are magically transported to other worlds upon viewing interesting shelves. Maybe. Just maybe.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Advent — How to Read a Book

Francis Bacon once remarked “some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” Today’s StumbleUpon advent find is this article on How to Read a Book, which looks at the four levels of reading Mortimer Adler wrote about:


In short, the goal of reading determines how you read.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Advent — BookSeer


BookSeer.com helps you find what to read next.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Advent — Bookmobile

Chicago, 1940

My StumbleUpon advent calendar stumbled upon my cold that laid me up in bed for the last few days. Alors, here we go with an archive photo of a travelling library. This photo reminds me of a similar one in Todd Babiak’s Edmonton Public Library Centennial book.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Birthday Black Bond Books

Third Generation Bookseller BLACK BOND BOOKS Celebrates 50 Years! (CNW Group/Black Bond Books)

Oh hooray for Black Bond Books! Canada’s largest independent bookselling group—based in BC—is celebrating their Golden Anniversary this October. Black Bond Books was founded in Brandon, Manitoba in 1963, by Madeline Neill, now retired. She moved to BC in 1972, and with the help of her children, Cathy, Vicky and Michael, the company grew to 10 locations over the years. A true, family business, Madeline’s daughter Cathy Jesson is President, granddaughter, and third generation bookseller Caitlin Jesson manages the Vancouver location, and Mel Jesson, business partner, keeps the financials in order. (Source: Press Release)

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Page Two: Strategic Publishing

Very excited for my friends Jesse Finkelstein and Trena White who have just launched their new publishing venture, Page Two.


Page Two is a new form of agency for non-fiction authors needing help navigating the full range of publishing options from traditional publishing routes to self-publishing and digital publishing. Jesse and Trena are publishing veterans with a ton of experience and high-level of detail so there’s no doubt in my mind that their clients will be in good hands.


Author and publisher services:
• Writing coaching and editorial support
• Career strategizing that considers the full range of publishing options, including self-publishing
• Traditional author representation to the book trade
• Sourcing printers, POD, and distribution services
• Sourcing skilled freelancers to work on your project
• Managing or expanding corporate publications programs
• Transitioning print content to digital
• Cross-format content licensing, including contract drafting and review
• Strategic planning and business development
• Editorial and acquisitions strategy

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Goose Lane Accepts Digital Submissions

The time has come! Publishers, in particular Goose Lane, are now accepting manuscript submissions electronically. 

I remember my Raincoast “slush pile” days. Sitting in the back room with inch-thick manuscript submissions and reading (or rather weeding) through boxes of submissions. Now the glut of paper is finally ending with the ease of reading facilitated by tablets. Thank you iPad.

[Press Release excerpt] Beginning this Canada Day, Goose Lane Editions will accept fiction submissions only in electronic form and solely via electronic submission.

In early 2012, Goose Lane equipped its acquisition editors with new tablet computers for reviewing manuscripts. Now, halfway through 2013 and after almost 60 years of accepting manuscripts exclusively in paper, the company will begin the overall transition to full electronic submissions.

“Aside from the ecological benefits of doing away with mountains of print manuscripts,” Goose Lane’s publisher Susanne Alexander says, “this change will allow for a more rapid response to submissions and queries and will result in substantial savings for prospective authors.”

The electronic process for fiction submissions will soon be followed by poetry and non-fiction submissions, which are currently accepted only in paper form, which I suspect is the preference of the editor. The release did say that the publishing house expects these two genres to transition to the electronic submission process.

Full details on the new submission process is available at http://gooselane.com/submissions.php

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Canadian Book Consumer Infographic

Canadian Book Consumer 2012 - An infographic by the team at BookNet Canada

Canadian book buying behaviour (2012 data)
• 1 in 3 Canadians bought a book last month
• 18% bought an ebook
• 26% of purchases were impulse buys

See the infographic for more stats or check out the BookNet Canada website for more Consumer Studies

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Book on Sign Painters

Book: Sign Painters by Faythe Levine and Sam Macon

imageIn 2010 filmmakers Faythe Levine, coauthor of Handmade Nation, and Sam Macon began documenting the dedicated practitioners of hand-painted signs, their time-honored methods, and their appreciation for quality and craftsmanship. Sign Painters, the first anecdotal history of the craft, features stories and photographs of more than 25 sign painters working in cities throughout the United States.

The Canadian premiere of the Sign Painters documentary that accompanies the book will be in Vancouver on June 7th and 8th at the Rio Theatre. Get tickets ($20) and additional information.

Related Books

Draw Your Own Alphabets
Thirty Fonts to Scribble, Sketch, and Make Your Own
Tony Seddon

Little Book of Lettering
Emily Gregory

Another great sign maker: glass & mirrors

Saturday, March 23, 2013

What John Green Can Teach Authors and Publishers

Stick with me on this one.

A hilarious text exchange yesterday morning led me to these thoughts:

  • John Green is hilarious. I didn’t know that.
  • One of my Pub355 students introduced me to his videos (and I should have watched them immediately).
  • Craig Ferguson is still hilarious (always knew that, loved his show, haven’t watched it for awhile, thought his novel was darkly funny).
  • I’m now addicted to John Green videos.
  • I’m ready to read The Fault in Our Stars (cancer story, couldn’t read that last year due to a family illness).

Here’s how it all went down.

SDS: Do you know John Green?

Me: I know Joslin Green (Boxcar designer).

SDS: John Green. He’s big on the internets. There’s a video clip where he goes on about being a big Harry Potter fan and going to conferences.


Wait. What? I’m a big Harry Potter fan and go to conferences. Who are we talking about?

(Search “John Green” and autocomplete brings up “John Green Books”)

End Pause

Me: Oh, John Green, author. I thought we were talking about someone I know personally. I know author John Green of The Fault in Our Stars. Harry Potter fan though?

SDS: Yes, the interview on Craig Ferguson is about his book. He goes to Harry Potter conferences.


I go to Harry Potter conferences. Who are we talking about?

(Search “John Green Craig Ferguson”)

Yes, yes. Same guy. Ok, the puzzle pieces of this text thread are coming together. John Green. Author. Interview on Craig Ferguson.

Watch 11 minute video (actually it’s not that long because the last 4-5 min are some other show promo). OMG funny, worth watching. I didn’t know how personable John Green is.


Discovery: Yes John Green is a Harry Potter fan and goes to conferences because his brother plays Wrock. (That’s Wizard Rock for those of you not in the Potterverse). I personally like the Mudblood’s “Be My Witch Tonight,” which I first heard at Portus 2008.


Who, then, is his brother?

(Search “John Green Brother”)

Hank Green. Thank you Wikipedia.

Ah! This is the guy behind “Accio Deathly Hallows”, which was super popular because it went viral before the last Harry Potter book was released. I know this (without knowing or connecting the details). Hilarious! This is a fun internet-browsing adventure.

(How are you liking the inner workings of my sleep-depraved, new mom brain? Fascinated, I’m sure. Thankfully this blog is called So Misguided.)

Next thought: That song launched Hank and John’s Vlogbrothers YouTube channel into the stratosphere, which is what my student Calvin was telling me in September. I clearly should prioritize reading/watching links sent to me, not just by students but by James, Boris and friends who diligently keep me up to date. Mea culpa.

(Go to YouTube “Vbrothers” channel)


John Green video—Mar 19, 2013—offers a great commentary on advertising and where marketers are going wrong when they think about social media and advertising. (See this is valuable, work-related research now.)

Plus, the video was filmed in advance of the Craig Ferguson interview so the neurosis of this video is a perfect complement to (my state of mine, ur, I mean) the actual interview itself.

I’m now addicted to John Green and most certainly want to read The Fault in Our Stars, which I wanted to read before anyway.

And here’s my work-related thought to show that a portion of my professional brain still exists ... the video highlights a good point made by Jane Friedman earlier this week in her post on 5 publishing industry trends writers need to understand:

3. The Value and Distraction of Author Platform Building

I’ll make a bold statement right here that I don’t think I’ve made before.

If you’re a totally new, unpublished writer who is focused on fiction, memoir, poetry, or any type of narrative-driven work, forget you ever heard the word platform. I think it’s causing more damage than good. It’s causing writers to do things that they dislike (even hate), and that are unnatural for them at an early stage of their careers. They’re confused, for good reason, and platform building grows into a raging distraction from the work at hand—the writing.

Therefore, build your platform by writing and publishing in outlets that are a good fit for you, lead to professional growth, and build your network. The other pieces will start to fall into place. It might take longer, but who cares if you’re feeling productive and enjoying yourself? Go be a writer and take a chance on the writing. Writing and publishing good work always supports the growth of your platform—and I’m willing to bet more valuable platform building will get done that way, especially for narrative-driven writers.

Exception to the rule: Nonfiction/non-narrative authors and entrepreneurial authors who are self-publishing. Sorry, but you should probably focus on platform as much as the writing.

I 100% agree. And when publishers are talking to authors about building a platform, they are looking for a John Green.

But you know what? Green is a total outlier. See above activities with Hank Green. Then look further back than Vlogbrothers. Vlogbrothers was predated by the Brotherhood 2.0 Project.

John Green and his brother Hank ran a video blog project called Brotherhood 2.0. The original project ran from January 1 to December 31, 2007, with the premise that the brothers would cease all text-based (‘textual’) communication for the year and instead converse by video blogs, made available to the public via YouTube (where they are known as the ‘vlogbrothers’) and on their Brotherhood 2.0 website. Thanks again Wikipedia

Dear authors: a platform is often years in the making. Be realistic about the time you have available if you want to build an audience faster than that.
Dear publishers: See above point for authors.

And now I’m off to feed Finlay. Another day. Another 8 feedings. Another 8x to get lost in the ramblings of my own brain. Thanks for following the thread of this one.


Saturday, March 09, 2013

Belated Read Aloud Day

March 6 was World Read Aloud Day and many organizations celebrated by giving away books. Global Mechanic’s A Sweet Story iPad app is one of those freebies. Check it out as it’s Canadian produced and self funded by Global Mechanic. If you like it, consider writing a review as that helps people discover the app.


What is World Read Aloud Day?
World Read Aloud Day is a global literacy movement that is about “taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology.”

A Sweet Story iPad app

“A Sweet Story is a charming book packed with lovely illustrations, quirky animation and an assortment of tasty childhood memories. After one reading of A Sweet Story, I found my daughter staying up late, hiding the iPad under the covers to read it one more time. That might be the highest recommendation one can give.” —Linda Simensky, Vice President of Children’s Programming at PBS

“A delicious and fast-moving little story about a brave boy and the food he hates. Best of all, it reads just like a real book.” —Russell Smith, Novelist, Globe and Mail columnist and parent

Friday, March 08, 2013

Canopy Reprints Two Canadian Bestsellers on New Straw Paper

A limited number of signed collectors’ editions of Alice Munro’s Dear Life and Yann Martel’s Life of Pi have been printed on straw paper and are being sold for $250-500. The special sale is a campaign to demonstrate the versatility of straw paper developed by Second Harvest Paper in partnership with Canopy. At present, 50% of forests cut in North America currently become paper. This new straw paper contains only straw left over from grain harvesting and recycled paper, with no virgin forest materials used at all, and therefore no damage to our limited forest ecosystems.


Press Release (Vancouver) – Celebrated authors Alice Munro and Yann Martel have collaborated with award-winning environmental group Canopy to print collectors’ editions of their bestselling books Dear Life and Life of Pi. Printed specially on forest-saving paper made from straw rather than trees, the books highlight a viable solution to logging carbon-rich forests for paper. Published by Random House of Canada, a limited number of signed copies of each book will be available from these printings. All proceeds go towards Canopy’s continued forest conservation work and development of alternative paper sources.

“Future generations will only know bears, tigers, orangutans and caribou as fictional creatures unless we protect their habitat in the Boreal, tropical and temperate forests now,” said Yann Martel, after last week’s Oscars win by the film based on his novel. “Using straw paper for my book demonstrates that there are elegant solutions that keep the world’s towering trees standing.”

Canopy arranged the production of these rare special editions with Random House of Canada as part of their campaign to diversify the North American paper fibre basket. Kick-starting commercial-scale development of straw-based papers will significantly reduce the stress on endangered forests.

“Now more than at any other time in our history, we need to bring our intelligence and imagination to sustain our life support systems,” said Alice Munro. “With a pure passion and unwavering conviction Canopy has been working to protect the world’s forests and inspire innovation. This is exactly the kind of practical solution required.”

Both Alice Munro and Yann Martel, and their respective publishers, McClelland & Stewart and Knopf Canada, have worked closely with Canopy since 2000 when the organization first started its work to green the book publishing industry. At the time, no publisher was consistently printing on environmental papers.

“A decade ago Alice Munro and Yann Martel were amongst the first authors to work with Canopy and their publishers to curtail books being printed on paper from ancient and endangered forests,” said Nicole Rycroft, Canopy’s founder and executive director. “Today, they are yet again helping to pioneer solutions that will keep more than 800 million trees standing in North American forests every year.”

Every year millions of tonnes of wheat straw and flax straw, left over after the grain harvest in Canada, could be used to make commercial-quality paper. As of February 2013 Canopy’s ongoing market survey quantified an annual North American demand for more than 1 million tonnes of straw paper. The paper used in Alice Munro and Yann Martel’s titles is made from wheat straw, flax straw and recycled paper, and has half the ecological footprint of conventional paper. It is the product of a unique partnership that Canopy forged with paper producer Cascades Fine Paper, technical collaborators at Alberta Innovates, and printers Friesens and Webcom.

Signed special editions of Life of Pi will be available for purchase beginning March 6, 2013. Signed special editions of Dear Life will be available for distribution as of mid-April 2013, in time for Mother’s Day, but can be preordered today. Both books are available exclusively at canopyplanet.org.

Canopy is a not-for-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting forests, species and climate. Canopy believes collaboration is the key and that businesses can be a powerful force for solutions, and work with more than 700 companies to help ensure their supply chains are sustainable. Canopy’s partners include Sprint, The New York Times, Random House, Hearst, Scholastic, and Lonely Planet. For more information, visit http://canopyplanet.org.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Newfoundland Author Chad Pelley Wins Inaugural Salon Fiction Prize

imageCongratulations to author Chad Pelley, winner of the inaugural Salon Fiction Prize.

[Press Release] Saint John, N.B., February 21, 2013 –The Telegraph-Journal, New Brunswick’s provincial newspaper, telegraphjournal.com, is ecstatic to announce that Newfoundland-based author Chad Pelley has won the inaugural Salon Fiction Prize for his short story ‘A Second Look at Nothing.’

Launched July 2012, the Salon Fiction Prize awards $1,000 for a previously unpublished work of Canadian short fiction. The winning piece is also published in the Telegraph-Journal’s weekend fine arts and culture section, Salon. ‘A Second Look at Nothing’ is running in the Feb. 23 issue of Salon. 

Chad Pelley’s short story was selected from more than 100 entries from across Canada by an esteemed Atlantic Canadian jury empanelled for the new prize: Giller Prize-shortlisted short story writer Alexander MacLeod; Halifax-based Atlantic Poetry Prize-winner Sue Goyette; and Université de Moncton professor Thomas Hodd.

Chad Pelley is a multi-award-winning writer, songwriter and photographer from St. John’s, Newfoundland. His debut novel, Away from Everywhere (Breakwater Books) was released in 2009, and his follow-up, Every Little Thing (Breakwater Books) hits bookshelves in March. Recipient of the Newfoundland and Labrador Art Council’s CBC Emerging Artist of the Year award, Pelley is president of the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador and runs the CanLit blog saltyink.com. See Chad Pelley’s author bio and book links on 49thShelf.com

About Salon
Published every Saturday in the Telegraph-Journal, Salon is home to some of the best arts and culture writing in Canada – honoured with both national and regional newspaper awards. As space and resources devoted to books continues to dwindle, and the CanLit landscape disappears from Canadian newspapers, Salon remains dedicated to supporting our nation’s writers and their words.