Saturday, 26 July 2008

All Things Seventies

They're baaaaack...

Long straight hair, flared jeans, peasant skirts and platform shoes have been making a comeback for the last few years. That
Seventies Show still boogies across the airwaves in reruns. New shows like Swingers show the questionable side of married life when innocence took a back seat to exploration.

Late boomers are feeling nostalgic for the old Donny Osmond posters, Volkswagen buses and kitsch kitchens. Some never left the seventies -- that goddawful brown paneling is still on my basement walls.

My kids are discovering the cool sounds of the Seventies - no, not disco, but good stuff like Joni Mitchell, The Stones and The Doobie Brothers. Gotta love those classic rock radio stations.

I am currently working on a cross-genre novel in which half is written in the POV of a sixteen-year-old girl when she goes to an unfamiliar school in 1975 and falls for a boy who doesn't know she's alive.

The other half is in the POV of the boy, all grown up. He meets the girl, now a woman. He's a widower and a father of a young boy, and she's a divorced mom. They are drawn together by her son's illness and he helps her deal with the situation, since he lost his wife to cancer.

In writing this book, the seventies are taking centre stage. Memories are flooding into my brain with such clarity, I want to go back. I want to return to those days when we looked into the future and saw a million possibilities. As a young person, I still saw the world with clear eyes and mostly missed the political turmoil entangled amongst the Peter Frampton concerts and Saturday Night Live.

My daughter, who is now nineteen, says she likes the seventies because they were so weird, and hates the era because it was so gross.

How do we treat novels about the seventies? Are new novels set in the seventies still considered contemporary, or are they now seen as historical? Will publishing suddenly have a glut of books set in that era?

I want to go into the minds of agents and publishers to find out if books set in the seventies will fly in the next couple of years. I don't want to submit and get the answer, "No one reads books about the seventies."

Edited to add: A commercial just came on, selling the complete collection from "Midnight Special" - live performances from - you guessed it - The Seventies.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Warming Up The Grill

It's that time again! Tomorrow, July 24th from 9am to 9pm, my friend Chris Eldin and Roastmistress Phoenix are set to roast me and my novel, Bad Ice at this month's Book Roast. Drop by for the party! The party goer with the best answers to Phoenix's clever trivia questions will win a pdf copy of Bad Ice.

Now, I know some of you prefer the old fashioned paper books, so as a special bonus I will arrange to send an autographed print copy to the winner when it becomes available this fall/winter!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Lost in Hamilton

Most of my father's relatives live in the Hamilton area, but every time we visit, it takes a few tries before we figure out where the heck we're going. Over twenty-five years, I think we had to have a dozen relatives come get us because we could never remember where Uncle Tony's farm was.

You know the kind of directions local people give: "Turn left at the little bridge, there'll be a fork in the road, take the left fork, then turn right at the first gravel road you see."

Poor Hamilton's track record was already poor in my husband's opinion. During the NHL lockout we attended an outdoor charity NHL game at Hamilton's Ivor Wynne Stadium. With all the one-way streets and roundabouts, we finally stumbled on the stadium in a shower of sleet and sloppy snow. Hubby was not amused. He sat under a plastic poncho (we paid $5.00 for something we could have bought for a buck in a dollar store) for three hours, watching a bunch of wet and miserable NHL players a mile away in the middle of a football field.

Yesterday we were supposed to gather with the rest of the clan for the annual Cormier picnic at a conservation area. We had gone last year, so at least we knew where it was. However, in spite of the clear blue sky in Newmarket, I received a phone call yesterday that the picnic was canceled because of the possibility of thunderstorms in the Niagara region.

We laid aside our plan to make fried chicken and bean salad, and instead prepared to meet my father, sister and brother with their spouses at a motel in Hamilton for an afternoon visit and dinner out.

We left a little late -- the kids wanted to pack enough electronic paraphernalia to entertain a Boy Scout troop, although the only other child would be my eight-year-old niece.

I had diligently copied my stepmom's detailed directions to the motel and printed out Google Map instructions as well, but in my rush to leave, I left the handwritten note with the phone number on the coffee table, thinking the Google instructions would suffice.

We decided to take the toll highway and almost missed the exit. Hubby crossed four lanes of sparse traffic to hit the ramp for the 403, and we continued through steadily darkening skies. When we approached Hamilton, the clouds opened and poured buckets of rain on us. Traffic slowed to 40 km/hr and we followed a red 4x4, the only vehicle visible in the muck. I had to squint through the side window to see the exit sign, but we found Main Street West.

It's a one way street with five lanes. We drove through the downtown area in the middle lane, but cars in the far left lane plowed through six inch deep puddles, sending a mini tsunami onto the sidewalk. At one point, a lady huddled under an umbrella and watched in horror as an arc of solid water rushed toward her. I could see her whole body flinch, but the offending car thankfully slowed just before reaching her, so she was spared the Bridget Jones treatment.

We kept going through the deluge, but it seemed we were on Main St. West an awfully long time, then it turned into Main St. East. The rain eased and we peered at buildings that appeared more and more disheveled, with rusty fire escapes and boarded up storefronts.

"Dad couldn't have taken a room here. It's not like him." My dad always chose neat and tidy accommodations when they visited Ontario. This area was definitely not on the tidy side.

I pulled out the map of Hamilton and peered at impossible small printing to find out where we were, but nothing looked familiar. After turning around twice and more than a little swearing, my husband pulled into a parking lot, got out of the car and stomped into a convenience store to ASK FOR DIRECTIONS WITHOUT BEING TOLD. I was so proud of him.

He came back and said, "We're going the wrong way." We searched for landmarks on the map and discovered we were actually in the east end of Hamilton, not the west. "I hate this %$#@ town," he muttered as we meandered through four one-way streets before finally heading in the right direction.

We arrived an hour late, frazzled and silent, to a tiny motel room crammed with happy relatives. After a beer and a wholesome dinner at Boston Pizza, we felt better.

When the evening ended, we found Highway 403 in five minutes flat.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Ask A Canadian

Kanani gave me a great idea. I scooted over to her blog to check out her friend Gustavo Arallano's book Ask A Mexican, and it got me thinking about how the rest of the world views Canadians.

We seem to come across as some mysterious entity that insists it doesn't want to be noticed, and yet performs in such a way that we
are noticed. For example, look at Jim Carrey or Mike Myers. Not exactly shy fellows.

I think I'll have some fun and invite questions about us from non-Canadians. You can try me with anything from beer to moose to hockey. I don't promise to be accurate - in fact, I'll probably be wildly inaccurate.

Kanani asked me in a post:

Dear Canadian,

What's with the aboot? Do Canadians say this because there's no other way to distinguish themselves from Americans, or to put a barrier between them and the rest of the Commonwealth? Or is this just some natural genetic flaw?

Dear Non-Canadian,

I honestly don't think I say 'aboot' but maybe some Maritimers do. When listening to Americans speak, they seem to broaden their vowels and say 'abaaawhut'. Maybe it's because they're warm and lazy from sitting in the sunshine drinking mint juleps.

We Canadians tend to shorten our vowels and speak faster. Maybe it's because we're so damn cold all the time we need to get the words out quickly so we can go inside where it's warm.

Canadians have no genetic flaws. We are perfect.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

We Have A Winner

Tonight, a slow line of cars rolls down our little residential street as the local citizens take in the annual fireworks display at George Richardson Park. I used to climb on our roof to watch the show, but the trees have grown too high.

Usually, I'd join the exodus, but tonight I sit at my computer and tabulate the answers to my trivia questions about our lovely country. There were a couple of 'wild card' questions with several possible answers, and I received some really imaginative ones.

Travis, you seem to have a special place in your heart for our dear Pam Anderson, who is a real smart cookie besides being well endowed. You made me laugh with your attempts to upstage Bernard.

Stephen, you gave it a great run, and you might be right about the beer, since you live in a country where beer is probably stronger.

Wordtryst, you tried really hard, but living in Paradise probably affects your accuracy.

Barbara, as a fellow Canadian, you came close, oh so close.

Mlh, you get brownie points for sucking up.

But the one who got all the answers right (kudos for the aboriginal name for Niagara Falls) is...


Tell me how you'd like your electronic copy of Bad Ice. I can either email a pdf or burn it on a CD and snail mail it to you in the format of your choice.

Thank you all for dropping by. This was so much fun and I really appreciate your support. Don't forget, you have another chance to win at the end of July over at Book Roast.