April 13

The inspiration of death

Ambulance

On a lovely summer night, three days after I moved into my beautiful new house, back in July of 2018, the most wonderful soul left this earth. After that, I drank more alcohol, smoked more weed (it’s cool – totally legal here), watched more TV, and ate more junk food. My niece overdosed on Aleve, but she realized she had made a mistake. She wanted to live, and held onto life the best should could, but a paramedic accidentally gave her morphine, instead of the life saving drug he meant to give her, twice!

She was the kind of person who would make fun of you then snuggle right up into you, the marshmallow with barbed wire on the outside. She seemed tough, but she just loved you completely, and that was all she needed. Close your eyes for minute, actually close them and imagine how you would feel.

Although I would do anything to take her death back, it has given me a lot of perspective, changed me. I don’t turn into a giant ball of stress when work piles up, and I know that every moment counts. I’ve been given purpose by her mother, my sister. We are starting an amazing organization together to help children and prevent future deaths. The weird thing is, I don’t even want to watch TV anymore. I don’t want to smoke weed or drink. I love junk food though, but hopefully that will decrease as well.

I want to work on being the best person I can be. I want a life of purpose and meaning. I want everyone in my life to know that I fucking love them so damn much, and the people I don’t love and don’t care about – well you’re probably assholes. You know who the fuck you are, so GFY.

So what will the last half of my life look like? I don’t really know, but I’m excited to find out. I’m helping to start an organization that will improve the lives of people, especially children. I’m writing, which is something I’m very passionate about, and I’m getting a lot of very cool technology projects for my day job.

People often ask: “if you could go back and give advice to yourself as child, what would say?” That child and the young adult who came after that, they taught me everything I know. There is no bit of wisdom that I’ve gained that wasn’t because of them. I’m nothing more than the sum of their knowledge. I should be asking myself: “what can I teach my future self?” The answer is everything. If I realize that I’m the teacher, and I’m responsible for who I’ll be, it makes me think in a very different way. My future self isn’t going to just bail me out of a miserable existence; he’s just going to keep doing whatever I’m doing.

My niece’s death was a clear sign that everything changes. I won’t let circumstance change me in an uncontrollable way. I’ll change how I want to change.

Category: Diary | LEAVE A COMMENT
April 29

Award to Recognize Excellence in Caribbean Literature for Young Adults

Port of Spain Trinidad cityscape Date: 24th Ap...
Port of Spain Trinidad cityscape Date: 24th April, 2008 Location: Kapok Hotel, POS (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An exciting global initiative in Young Adult literature is coming to the Caribbean! The Burt Award for Caribbean Literature was launched at the NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

Part of a unique global literary award and readership initiative aiming to give youth everywhere with access to books they will want to read, the Award was established by CODE – a Canadian charitable organization that has supported literacy and learning for over 50 years – in collaboration with William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation and in partnership with the NGC Bocas Lit Fest. The Award will be accepting submissions from publishers from May 13 until August 23, 2013.

“In the Caribbean, as in many other places around the world, the call for quality, locally authored reading materials for young people is constantly growing. Supporting the development of books that reflect the lives of readers, providing opportunities for emerging writers to develop and showcase their talents, and stimulating the growth of the regional publishing sector is crucial,” said CODE Executive Director Scott Walter. “And that’s exactly what this Award aims to do – it helps address these issues by celebrating the literary achievements of Caribbean authors and improving young readers’ access to books that are engaging and meaningful to them.”

The Award will be given annually to three English-language literary works for Young Adults by Caribbean authors. A First Prize of $10,000 CAD, a Second Prize of $7,000 CAD and a Third Prize of $5,000 CAD will be awarded to the winning authors. The publishers of each winning title will also receive a guaranteed purchase of up to 3,000 copies, ensuring the books will get into the hands of young people in schools, libraries and community organizations across the Caribbean.

For this new initiative, CODE will build on the success it has achieved in implementing the Burt Award in four African countries, as well as its long-established partnerships in the Caribbean.

“Oftentimes, the only books Caribbean youth have access to are the textbooks they use in school. But textbooks don’t encourage them to develop a love of reading,” said William (Bill) Burt, who was instrumental in its founding and financially supports the Award. “I hope that the high-quality books that will emerge from these annual awards will make young people love to read, build their language skills and, eventually, help them to make a lasting difference in their communities.”

Since its start in 2008, the Burt Award for African Literature has resulted in the publication of nearly 150,000 copies of 24 titles for young adults in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania. The inaugural Call for Manuscripts for the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature was launched in September 2012 in Canada and the first winners will be announced in the fall of 2013.

The winners of the Inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean Literature will be announced at the Bocas Lit Fest in April 2014.

For further details on the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, go to www.codecan.org/burt-award-caribbean

April 28

Stephen King and Owen King to headline literature promoting event

Stephen King, American author best known for h...
Stephen King, American author best known for his enormously popular horror novels. King was the 2003 recipient of The National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Taken at the 2007 New York Comicon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thirty-nine years, 50 books, and 350 million copies into his literary career, Stephen King will discuss the writing life with his son, first-time novelist Owen King on the opening night of the 34th International Festival of Authors.

In his only scheduled Canadian appearance, Stephen King and his son, Owen King, will headline PEN Canada’s annual benefit to take place on Thursday, October 24th, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. in the Fleck Dance Theatre at Harbourfront Centre, Toronto. Award-winning mystery writer Louise Penny will moderate the discussion.

“We are thrilled that Stephen and Owen King are supporting the work of PEN,” said Charlie Foran, President, PEN Canada. “The evening promises to be a rare glimpse of an intimate father-son conversation about life and art.”

Stephen King will present his new novel, Doctor Sleep, which returns to the characters and the territory of his first best-selling hardcover novel, The Shining, including the now middle-aged Dan Torrance. Owen King will present his début novel, Double Feature, which explores the creative life and the complicated relationship between a B-movie actor and his filmmaking son.

Tickets to the event are $100 with all proceeds going to PEN Canada. Advance tickets will be available to PEN Patrons and the International Festival of Authors Patrons at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16th by calling the Harbourfront Centre Box Office at 416-973-4000. Tickets for the public will be available on Thursday, April 18th at 1:00 p.m. by calling the box office or by visiting www.readings.org. For information on how to become a PEN Canada Patron call 416-703-8448. For information on how to become a Patron of the International Festival of Authors call 416-973-4760.

About the authors

Owen King is a graduate of Vassar College and the MFA program at the Columbia University School of the Arts. He is the author of Double Feature: A Novel and We’re All in This Together: A Novella and Stories. His writing has appeared in Fairy Tale Review, Guernica, One Story, and Prairie Schooner, among other publications. Owen has also taught creative writing at Columbia University and Fordham University and is a working screenwriter with a script in development by the producer of Winter’s Bone. He is married to the novelist Kelly Braffet.

Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine in 1947, the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. He made his first professional short story sale in 1967 to Startling Mystery Stories. In the fall of 1973, he began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels. In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co., accepted the novel Carrie for publication, providing him the means to leave teaching and write full-time. He has since published over 50 books and has become one of the world’s most successful writers.

Stephen lives in Maine and Florida with his wife, novelist Tabitha King. They are regular contributors to a number of charities including many libraries and have been honored locally for their philanthropic activities.

Louise Penny is the New York Times and Globe & Mail bestselling author of the Chief Inspector Gamache crime novels of which How the Light Gets In is the most recent, set in Quebec and translated into 25 languages. Her books have won the American Anthony, Agatha, Barry and Macavity awards, the Canadian Arthur Ellis and the British Dagger. CBC Television is turning her works into a series of films. Louise lives with her husband Michael outside a village in southern Quebec.

PEN Canada is a nonpartisan organization of writers that works with others to defend freedom of expression as a basic human right, at home and abroad. PEN Canada promotes literature, fights censorship, helps free persecuted writers from prison, and assists writers living in exile in Canada. http://pencanada.ca

International Festival of Authors
Each October, the IFOA presents a wide range of readings, round table discussions, on stage interviews, book signings and a number of special events featuring the most exciting authors in contemporary literature. Administered by Authors at Harbourfront Centre, this year’s 34th annual IFOA takes place from October 24 to November 3, 2013. www.readings.org

April 15

Writing Topics

Boston Marathon Finish Line.1910. Author: Unknown.
Boston Marathon Finish Line.1910. Author: Unknown. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some people say to write something everyday. Let us imagine a world where all the writers have plenty of time, will, and talent to write anything they want. Now, you just have to find a topic to write about.

As far as writing topics go, it’s great to find something unique, wonderful, amazing, and identifiable that nobody else has ever written about. Until you write the best thing ever written, I suggest getting past the topic stumbling block by picking something that’s news bound. I suggest timing your writing to something that will be in the news.

For instance, I’m publishing this piece of writing today, April 15, 2013.

Possible writing topics could be:

    1. Boston Marathon or running events
    2. Justin Trudeau or Canadian leaders
    3. MTV Movie Awards or other awards shows
    4. Chi Cheng or the death of a musician
    5. Jason Day or golf wins and losses

The real topics lend themselves to news stories or comment pieces, while the alternate topics would be suited for fiction pieces. For instance, you could write a comment piece about Justin Trudeau, or you could write a short story about an up and coming Canadian leader. Choose a topic that is relevant to where this will be published. If you live in Australia and you want your work to be published, talking about Justin Trudeau isn’t a good idea because nobody will care about him.

Topics that are timed to coincide with news events are more likely to get published as they are already in the public’s mind. They are being talked about and searched for. Giving people the text that they already want to read is an easy way to get your work in front of people and engage them immediately.

Category: Tips | LEAVE A COMMENT
April 4

Ottawa Writing

English: Confederation Square, with National W...
English: Confederation Square, with National War Memorial in its centre, in Ottawa, Canada. The view towards downtown from the Corktown Pedestrian Bridge in Ottawa, Canada. The Laurier bridge and Château Laurier are visible. Français : Vue vers le centre-ville depuis la passerelle de Corktown à Ottawa (Canada). On peut voir le Pont Laurier et le Château Laurier. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Writing can be difficult for any particular market. Today, I’ll use Ottawa as an example. There are a few newspapers, but with today’s world of syndication, it can be difficult to get on staff anywhere. There are a ton of technical writing jobs, although many of them require field experience. There are also the less than fulfilling large corporation and government jobs where you spend a ton of time crafting the perfect prose, only to have it butchered by a committee.

I know everyone and their dog tells you that you can make a whole huge pile of money blogging and that anyone who doesn’t blog to make money is a stupid idiot with a nine to five job, but that’s just not true. If everyone could make money blogging, everyone would be doing it. It’s very difficult to make a living doing nothing at all but blogging.

Starting a writing career in Ottawa is possible. You’re not going to get a lot of book deals or script writing roles being in Ottawa, but you can pick up a great deal of web content writing jobs that pay reasonably well and don’t make you want to slit your wrists. If you are going to go the way of the freelance writer, you’ll need a web site, a rate, and you’ll need to start to get some jobs.

Do

  1. Take low-cost or free jobs if it’s to build a portfolio.
  2. Post on freelance boards offering your services.
  3. Partner with web or technology companies to get more work.

Don’t

  1. Work on anything that you can’t put in your portfolio.
  2. Accept unpaid internships (unless they are with a large credible company or organization)
  3. Work on anything where you are promised a percentage without actual up front payment.

That’s what I think about the Ottawa writing scene.

Category: Tips | LEAVE A COMMENT
January 28

Montreal, Friendship, and Realization

English: Montreal City Hall Français : Image p...
English: Montreal City Hall Français : Image panoramique de l’Hôtel de Ville de Montréal. Panorama constitué de 20 (5 x 4) photos réalisées avec un Canon 5D et un objectif 85mm f/1,8 réglé sur f/8. Türkçe: Kanada’nın Quebec eyaletinin en büyük ikinci şehri olan Montreal’de bulunan bina. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I went to Montreal this past weekend. Whenever I go there, I feel completely inspired. Not every situation or encounter is wonderful, but every time I’m there, it’s a vacation for me. To me, a vacation is time to heal, time to think, and just generally time to breathe. I have good friends in Montreal. They are different enough from me that I get to experience new ways of thinking and being, but they are similar enough to me that I never have to feel bizarre around them.

I’ve also recently begun talking to an old friend from the past. I think we would have always been friends, but we took different paths and simply fell out of touch. She is one of the coolest people I’ve ever known, and she’s the only one I’ve ever really cared about falling out of touch with.

I even have a new friend, a relationship that is just beginning.

Friends aren’t everything, but this weekend has been a good lesson for me. Friends are important. They shape my outlook, and help to make me a different person. This decade around I’ll remember to hold on to the good people in my life.

Category: Diary | LEAVE A COMMENT
November 11

I give really biased reviews about #plays my nephew is in because he is the best actor ever. Take that @tomhanks

Warburg [wedding] bridesmaids

I watched Mary’s wedding recently. It was amazing. If you live around the Ottawa area, you need to go see this play. The actors are amazing, and the play is awesome.

All right, in fairness, I have to disclose that my (hugely talented) nephew is in the play.

The entire audience was crying, even the manly men and soulless women. Obviously, I can’t objectively review it, since someone I care about is in the play. Best play ever! Go see it now, now, now!

The play is very fitting of this time of year; it’s a good reminder of what young men and women go through for war.

Category: Diary | LEAVE A COMMENT