Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Club Night

A few of us gathered at the East End branch to discuss this month's selection, The Book Thief. It was a different kind of book, one that I would not have picked up. Classified as Young Adult, it appeals to readers of all ages.

Set in Nazi Germany, the book is narrated by Death, who tells the story of Liesel Meminger, her foster family and friends. A bit disconcerting at first, but I adapted to Death's voice. At times, he appeared almost human. I could easily visualize him holding souls in his hands and interacting with the newly dead.

Unlike many other books of that period, the story is told from the German perspective. We see glimpses of the horror and bleakness of those days. But we also see many sparks of compassion and humanity among the poor German people living on Himmel Street in a small town outside of Munich.

Liesel, the protagonist of the novel, has a growing need for books and resorts to stealing them. Illiterate at first, she learns to read and later starts writing, using a strong, powerful voice.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thyroid Information

Last evening, I attended a lecture at Country Hills Library in west Kitchener. The back lecture room was filled with over 50 men and women from the Guelph/KW area. Most of us are experiencing thyroid issues.

Endocrinologist Dr. Terri Paul presented an informative and interesting talk on thyroid cancer. She discussed the different types of cancers and risk factors. She calmly assured us that dental x-rays and mammograms do not give enough radiation exposure to cause cancer. Also, the risk of dying from thyroid cancer is very low.

Some interesting facts and statistics...
  • In 2011, 5700 new cases of thyroid cancer will be reported in Canada.
  • Ontario and New Brunswick are thyroid cancer hot spots. According to Dr. Paul, there is no apparent reason for this trend.
  • There has been a definite increase in thyroid cancer between 1993 and 2007. Among women aged 20 to 39, there has been a 10 percent increase. Dr. Paul attributes this increase to better imaging studies and CT scans.
  • Thyroid cancer is more common in males.
Thanks to the Canadian Thyroid Foundation for organizing this event.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Midnight in Paris

I enjoyed watching this adult relationship drama.

Owen Wilson plays the part of Gil Pender, a writer who is experiencing pre-wedding jitters. Director Woody Allen uses creative license to send him back to the Golden Age (1920s). There, he meets up with such literary and artistic greats as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein. Kathy Bates delivers an outstanding performance as Stein. Carla Bruni appears briefly as a tour guide.

While the film deals with the past as a real place, it gently underscores the limits of nostalgia.

Watch the trailer.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Sound of Writing

Last evening, I joined a small group of local writers at the eBar in downtown Guelph.

We listened as three writers, two established and one up-and-coming, read from previously published short stories. I do not usually read dark fiction or urban fantasy, but it was good to get out of my comfort zone and listen to different types of stories.

I enjoyed talking with two of the writers beforehand and hearing about their writing journeys.

Doug Smith has written hundreds of short stories and has been described as "the finest short-story writer Canada and ever produced in the science fiction and fantasy genres."

Marcy Italiano is a multi-talented woman who manages to squeeze in writing fiction and songs while raising  very active three-year-old twin boys.

Andrea Shalay is an up-and-coming writer who excels in the art of storytelling.

Thanks to Kevin Nunn for spearheading this reading series.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Hangover 2

I enjoyed the original version of The Hangover. The antics of the four men at that bachelor party in Las Vegas are unforgettable.

I agree with many of the critics who consider The Hangover 2 to be a darker, raunchier copy of the first installment. It is definitely not PG entertainment. But don't get me wrong. It is still worth seeing.

Watch the trailer.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sundays for Writers

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon listening to Danielle Gavan talk about self-publishing and e-publishing at Lucie's Bakery in south Guelph. This dynamic, young author displayed her enthusiasm and expertise as she talked about her writing journey and how she achieved publishing success.

I was overwhelmed by all the information--two hours chock full of advice and new terminology. I took  notes and will be following some of her suggestions.
  •  Visit the Savvy Authors website where you will find authors, editors, cover artists, agents, and publishers. A premium membership is $35/year.
  • Invest in a good editor. A reasonable fee for editing a book is $1 to $1.50 for every 300 words or $350 for an entire book.
  • Build a following and readership for your book. Create a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Start a blog and talk about what you are writing. Upload your book on Smashwords and invite readers to comment on it.
Her advice can be summarized in one of her closing remarks, "Find your corner of the publishing world and work it!"

Thanks to Cindy Carroll for organizing this event.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

One Act Festival

Yesterday evening, I joined Cindy Carroll and her friends at the Guelph Little Theatre.

I enjoyed watching the four performances that evening. I was impressed by two of the plays.

Cindy's friend  Graham Freeman wrote and produced the play, Number One All Over Heaven. In a spoof of reality shows, a "devilishly handsome" host cross-examines the world's major religions: Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Atheism. Graham plans to write a sequel addressing  the other major religions.

I also enjoyed watching Time Flies. Written by David Ives and directed by Greg Insley, this play follows the activities of two young  mayflies during their life span of only one day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dinner with Writers Ink

Yesterday evening, ten of us met at Symposium Restaurant for our monthly dinner meeting. While a few of us are regulars, more local writers are joining us each month. The conversation is stimulating and the food is delicious.

 I look forward to the monthly get-togethers and always leave inspired and ready to resume my writing practice.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


My book review of Dreams of Joy appears in today's Guelph Mercury and Waterloo Record.

Read the review.