Quick Check In

Eleven days since my last post?

So much for my one post per week, hell or high water plan…

Oh well.

I sold a story yesterday, so that’s good news. I’ll wait to give my avid couple of readers the details until the contract has been signed. I will say that I love the story (probably because this was it’s first sub, and it hasn’t accumulated any stink of failure) and am pretty chuffed. Can’t wait to see the little guy in print.

A couple of my reviews from the March 2012 issue of Quill and Quire are online now: The Hilary Davidson’s Next One to Fall and John McFetridge’s Tumblin’ Dice.

Enough to tide you over?


See you soon.

(I promise)

Manitoba Publishing Awards Shortlists Announced

The Manitoba Publishing Awards Shortlists were announced today. Nice to see lots of Turnstone books on those lists too.  It’s also nice to see some of the genre books getting some love outside of the new Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction category.

As I interact with many of these writers regularly as a bookseller, I’m not going to pick favourites here on the blog (sorry to disappoint you and your bookie), except to say I will be rooting like crazy for Wayne Tefs (because he’s also my editor. You understand, right? Sure you do).

Enough blather! The very worthy books below:

Aqua Lansdowne Prize for Poetry
Prix Lansdowne de poésie

A Walker in the City by Méira Cook, Brick Books

Girlwood by Jennifer Still, Brick Books

Poème Pierre Prière by J. R. Léveillé, Les Éditions du Blé

Best Illustrated Book of the Year
Meilleur livre illustré de l’année

David’s Trip to Paraguay: The Country with Amazing Colours / Davids Reise in das Land der vielen Farben, story and design by Miriam Rudolph, CMU Press

The Imagination Manifesto: Book Three by GMB Chomichuk and John Toone, design and illustrated by GMB Chomichuk, Alchemical Press Ltd.

Portraits of Winnipeg by Robert J. Sweeney, cover and interior design Jamis Paulson, Turnstone Press

Manuela Dias Book Design of the Year
Prix Manuela-Dias de conception graphique en édition

Alert to Glory by Sally Ito, cover design by Jamis Paulson, Turnstone Press

Bandit: A Portrait of Ken Leishman by Wayne Tefs, cover design by Jamis Paulson, Turnstone Press

Poème Pierre Prière parJ. R. Léveillégraphiste Bernard Léveillé, publié par Les Éditions du Blé

Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book

A Large Harmonium by Sue Sorensen, Coteau Books

Dadolescence by Bob Armstrong, Turnstone Press

Winnie the Bear by M.A. Appleby, self published

Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award
Prix littéraire Carol-Shields de la ville de Winnipeg

Bandit: A Portrait of Ken Leishman by Wayne Tefs, Turnstone Press

Forgotten Heroes: Winnipeg’s Hockey Heritage by Richard Brignall, J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing

Ravenscraig by Sandi Krawchenko Altner, Heartland Associates

Winnipeg Beach: Leisure and Courtship in a Resort Town, 1900-1967 by Dale Barbour, University of Manitoba Press

Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction

The Girl in the Wall by Alison Preston, Signature Editions

The Imagination Manifesto: Book Three by GMB Chomichuk and John Toone, Alchemical Press

The Thirteen by Susie Moloney, Random House Canada

The Valedictorians by David Annandale, Ravenstone (an imprint of Turnstone Press)

Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction

Bandit: A Portrait of Ken Leishmanby Wayne Tefs, Turnstone Press

The Girl in the Wall by Alison Preston, Signature Editions

A Large Harmonium by Sue Sorensen, Coteau Books

Not Being on a Boat by Esmé Claire Keith, Freehand Books (an imprint of Broadview Press)

Twelve Drummers Drummingby C.C. Benison, Double Day Canada

Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction
Prix Alexander-Kennedy-Isbister pour les études et essais

The Blaikie Report: An Insider’s Look at Faith and Politics by Bill Blaikie, United Church Publishing House

Canadian Labour in Crisis: Reinventing the Workers’ Movement by David Camfield,Fernwood Publishing

Community and Frontier: A Ukrainian Settlement in the Canadian Parkland by John C. Lehr, University of Manitoba Press

Good Places to Live: Poverty and Public Housing in Canadaby Jim Silver, Fernwood Publishing

King: William Lyon MacKenzie King: A Life Guided by the Hand of Destiny by Allan Levine, Douglas and McIntyre Publishers Inc.

John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer

Bob Armstrong

Jonathan Ball

Jennifer Still

Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher
Prix Mary-Scorer pour le meilleur livre par un éditeur du Manitoba

Alert to Glory by Sally Ito, Turnstone Press

Bandit: A Portrait of Ken Leishman by Wayne Tefs, Turnstone Press

Butterfly Winter by W.P. Kinsella, Enfield and Wizenty (an imprint of Great Plains Publications)

La plus belle Création de Corbeau de David Bouchard, peintures de Brigitte Lopez, musique de Jana Mashonee, publié par Les Éditions des Plaines

What the Bear Said: Skald Tales of New Iceland by W.D. Valgardson, Turnstone Press

McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award

Annie’s Bright Idea: A Christmastime Adventure by Audrhea Lande, ill. by Jenny Prest, self published

Nanabosho and the Butterflies by Joe & Matrine McLellan, ill. by Jackie Traverse, Pemmican Publications

S is for Science: A Discovery of Alphabet by Larry Verstraete, Sleeping Bear Press


Case Files: 40 Murders and Mysteries Solved by Science by Larry Verstraete, Scholastic

Kingdom of Trolls by Rae Bridgman, Sybertooth

Tori by Design by Colleen Nelson, Great Plains Teen Fiction

McNally Robinson Book of the Year

Bandit: A Portrait of Ken Leishman by Wayne Tefs, Turnstone Press

Dancing, With Mirrors by George Amabile, Porcupine’s Quill

King: William Lyon MacKenzie King: A Life Guided by the Hand of Destiny by Allan Levine, Douglas & McIntyre Publishers Inc.

Not Being on a Boat by Esmé Claire Keith, Freehand Books (an imprint of Broadview Press)

Winnipeg Beach: Leisure and Courtship in a Resort Town, 1900-1967  by Dale Barbour, University of Manitoba Press

Chilling Tales

You can blame David Jón Fuller for today’s post. I realized I hadn’t chimed in for a while, and then David reposted one of his old articles, and I thought: “Shit. I can do that too!”

The anthology Chilling Tales Evil Did I Dwell; Lewd Did I Live was one of the books on my shortlist for the Prix Aurora Awards. It includes work by such Canadian genre luminaries as Robert J. Wiersema, Sandra Kasturi, Brett Alexander Savory, David Nickle, Claude Lalumière, and Gemma Files. Chilling Tales also included many of my favourite short stories of last year. So here’s the interview I did with editor Michael Kelly in early 2011.

Chilling Tales Evil Did I Dwell; Lewd Did I Live

Michael Kelly, Editor

Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy

$14.95 pb, 224 pages

ISBN: 978-1-894063-52-4

Underneath that cool Canadian reserve, a dark heart beats, believes Michael Kelly, editor of Chilling Tales: Evil Did I Dwell; Lewd I Did Live.

Chilling Tales features stories from Canadian horror fiction mainstays Brett Alexander Savory, Sandra Kasturi, and Nancy Kilpatrick, as well as some of the nation’s brightest (or should that be darkest) up and comers such as Gemma Files. Robert J. Wiersema, best known for his literary fiction, leads off the collection with a honky-tonk infused ghost story.

Kelly sensed a distinctly Canadian worldview, a “tangible loneliness” and “disquieting solitude” permeating the stories of his collection. But he feels Canadian writers are “merely doing what comes naturally—in this vast, sprawling land of ice and prairies, of wind and rock and water, of major urban centres encroaching on the barrens with spreading tendrils—exploring the other, that vastness.”

Anthologies such as Chilling Tales have been something of a rarity, although Don Hutchinson’s Northern Frights series left “an indelible impression” upon Kelly.

“There’s no easy answer,” he says, of the dearth of all-Canadian horror collections. “Part of it, I surmise, might be that Canadian genre writing is somewhat marginalized by the bigger publishing houses.”

It’s no surprise to Kelly that the two most recent such volumes were published by Chilling Tales’s publisher, Brian Hades at Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy. “It is the smaller houses with an indie spirit that will take a chance on a project like this.”

Kelly felt it was time to showcase Canada’s dark heart. There was no open call for submissions; instead he went hunting for authors that “shared that strange dark worldview” he was conjuring.

“I also mentioned that they could recommend some authors to me, as well. It was a bit of word-of-mouth and also me soliciting authors I admired.”

A writer himself, the Pickering, Ontario-based, Shirley Jackson Award-nominated Kelly enjoyed the challenge of editing the collection.

“There’s a certain order to the stories, a flow, whether you’re moving from something short and shocking, to something literary and poetic, to something prosaic. It’s a balancing act,” he says. “When I’m writing fiction, I just want to tell a story. I’m writing for me, though, no one else. When I’m editing a commercial anthology, I’m cognizant of the reader.”

The result? An eminently readable, page turning collection, tales that leap from the page, burrowing into you. It is as if the authors are kids around a campfire, each trying to one up the other with the imaginatively macabre. From ghosts, to issues of faith, to the very unusual skin condition in David Nickle’sLooker”, Chilling Tales has a velocity that keeps its reader huddled up for just one more story.

“I’m hoping this first volume will act as a benchmark for future volumes,” says Kelly. “I wanted to show that Canadian writers can be as literate, entertaining, edifying, and as scary as their contemporaries. Of course, I already knew that. Now, everyone will know.”

Chadwick Ginther is a writer and bookseller living in Winnipeg.

Comic Fanboys

I was going to write a long and involved post dissecting everything I felt was wrong with DC Comics’ new Justice League title, to date, and most specifically, with its most recent issue. But ultimately, who cares?

Geoff Johns is a good writer. Jim Lee is a good artist. Both men are creators whose work has ultimately (and especially lately) been not to my taste. That doesn’t mean it’s bad (at least not always), just not for me.

And that’s okay.

It seems the role of the comic fanboy is to be vitriolic in the extreme to what they don’t like, perhaps, in hoping their reaction will guarantee them more of what they do like. I don’t think this has done the industry any good, and I don’t need to waste any of my writing energy on it here. Instead, I’ve decided to write about comics that I love, rather than ones that I hate. Because ultimately, I do love comics, and I don’t want that love to be defined by the books I’ve liked the least.

So here’s to my monthly pull list: Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Batwoman, Birds of Prey, All Star Western, Demon Knights, I, Vampire, Justice League Dark, Conan the Barbarian, Fatale and Wolverine and the X-men.