Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Weirdness Journal Entry #5: Jocey!

What, you thought we could go more than a few weeks without an entry in the Weirdness Journal? Silly you. 

[In case you’re just joining us now, the weirdness journal is a collection of all of the strange synchronicities and oddities surrounding the writing and publishing of my upcoming novel, I Think We’ve Been Here Before, a book which, incidentally, is about synchronicities and oddities and which has been absolutely mired in them from its conception. The story was born out of a billion conversations with a couple of good friends about synchronicities and quantum entanglement and deja vu, and it has felt as though the simple act of writing about these things has acted as a lightning rod, but for a different sort of energy, attracting all manner of strange coincidences and eerie fortuities. Like, one day I was working on the part of the book that’s about a girl desperately trying to make it home from Berlin to her family as the world is ending, and worrying that she won’t be able to get there in time, grappling with how to spend the rest of her life and not waste the whole thing wishing she was somewhere she can’t get to, and later that morning someone (who knew nothing of this book) sent me a Voxtrot song they thought I would like, called Berlin, Without Return. The first line: Do you spend your whole life trying to get back home? Weirdly specific, Voxtrot! Anyway. That’s not what this entry is about. This entry is about Jocey.]

When Valencia and Valentine released, my friends Theresa and Brad threw my book launch party at their little stationery shop, The Paper Umbrella—oh! I went off searching for a bit of context for anyone who's new here so you'll understand how wonderful these people are and I came across this old video that I made for their blog years ago when they had a Valentine's Day letter-writing contest. (Be warned, the video was made with my old point-and-shoot digital camera, but I think their amazingness still shows through!)


It's off topic but aren't they just the cutest family? Isn't it the cutest shop?

ANYWAY. 

The actual point is that Brad and Theresa threw me a book launch party at their stationery shop and they had to bring my books in for the event. Now, because Theresa is such an absolute sunbeam, she made friends with the lady at Lake Union's Canadian book distributer, which was, at the time, Thomas Allen & Son. I went into the shop one day to talk logistics and Theresa was gushing about this lady, whose name was Jocey. 

"She's just so lovely!" Theresa told me. "She's going to come to your launch party!"

Now, if you are unfamiliar with the book industry, here's a thing: launch parties are generally, usually, thrown by the author themselves. It's not like the book launch parties in the movies, where the agent is there and the editor is there, and it's a fancy venue and everything's paid for by the publisher, and covered by several journalists. Those kinds of parties are reserved for a very select few. So to have Jocey from the distribution company come all the way to Regina for my book launch party made me feel pretty special. 

The launch was great, all my friends and family showed up, and Jocey was, indeed, there. She gave me some sage advice about the book industry (including PLR payments, thanks Jocey!), and we stayed in touch after. She was also involved in the distribution of Sorry I Missed You, and had begun to make some great inroads with indie bookstores across Western Canada when the pandemic hit and shut everything down. I think it was about that time that Thomas Allen & Son shut down too, and their client list was taken over by Firefly Books. When I saw the news, I felt sad. I'd really loved having Jocey in my corner. I thought, I probably won't even meet the people who distribute my next book, let alone know they'll do sweet things like randomly texting me pictures of my book in bookstores in Calgary just because they know it'll make me happy.

(Then again, little did I know at that point that my Canadian rights would end up going to Radiant—so even if Thomas Allen lived on, and even if Jocey continued to work there, I wouldn't be able to work with her again anyway.)

Okay so.

Last night, I went to a book launch party for Courtney Bates-Hardy's new poetry collection, Anatomical Venus (here!). It was a very lovely night, and my Canadian publishers were there and so was the person who is designing the cover for the Canadian edition of I Think We've Been Here Before (shout out Tania Wolk!) A very bookish night. My publisher told me that they'd just pitched my book to their sales team, and everyone was excited. A little boost of confidence for me, and I went home all full of fizz. 

And when I got home? A message was waiting for me from none other than Jocey, with lots of exclamation marks, letting me know that she just so happened to be in that sales meeting where my book was pitched. 

Wouldn't you know it? She works for Manda Group now, and they are the distributor for Radiant Press. Somehow, completely unexpectedly, she's back in my corner once again. I'm so happy, and quite amazed. 

Is it a small world? Or is it a magical one? 

Bonus weird: I scrolled up a little in my messages with Jocey and there were a bunch of pictures she'd taken at my book launch, and in two out of the nine, who's front and centre but...Courtney Bates-Hardy, who you'll remember from four paragraphs ago. This is funny because when I ran into Courtney a month ago, we remarked on how it had been such a long time since we'd seen each other, and I said I thought the last time I saw her was probably at her last book launch back in 2016. But nope! Here's proof that the last time I saw her was at mine, in 2019. Glad that's settled. Thanks again, Jocey. :)


Thursday, April 18, 2024

Weirdness Journal Entry #4: The Lightning Bottles Part 2

This blog is turning into a full-time weirdness journal. I think that's okay. 

[In case you’re just joining us now, the weirdness journal is a collection of all of the strange synchronicities and oddities surrounding the writing and publishing of my upcoming novel, I Think We’ve Been Here Before, a book which, incidentally, is about synchronicities and oddities and which has been absolutely mired in them from its conception. The story was born out of a billion conversations with a couple of good friends about synchronicities and quantum entanglement and deja vu, and it has felt as though the simple act of writing about these things has acted as a lightning rod, but for a different sort of energy, attracting all manner of strange coincidences and eerie fortuities. Like, one day I was working on the part of the book that’s about a girl desperately trying to make it home from Berlin to her family as the world is ending, and worrying that she won’t be able to get there in time, grappling with how to spend the rest of her life and not waste the whole thing wishing she was somewhere she can’t get to, and later that morning someone (who knew nothing of this book) sent me a Voxtrot song they thought I would like, called Berlin, Without Return. The first line: Do you spend your whole life trying to get back home? Weirdly specific, Voxtrot! Anyway. That’s not what this entry is about.]

Today's entry has to do with Marissa Stapley again! (Refresh your memory here.) The TL;DR is that I asked this writer I admire, Marissa, to blurb ITWBHB and she said yes and then she asked me to blurb her book, The Lightning Bottles, and when I read it I found that there were a number of intriguing similarities between her book and mine—themes, settings, very abstract but particular ideas—and that both books were set to be released this coming fall around the same time. I mentioned this to her as I was reading and we had a delightful conversation about synchronicities. 

Okay, so on Tuesday, at supper, Sully was like, "Hey Mom, you keep saying this word, blurb. What does it mean?" And I was like, "It's um—oh, here..." I was standing next to the bookcase so I reached out and grabbed a random book. I pointed to the blurb on the cover. "This is a blurb," I said. "It's a quote from an author saying how much they liked this book."

He nodded, satisfied, and I went to put the book back on the shelf—but right before I did the name of the author who'd written that blurb on the front caught my eye.


Marissa Stapley strikes again!

How is she doing this??

So I had a little chuckle. Maybe a whole guffaw. My family stared at me blankly. "Marissa, again!" I said. They didn't really get it. 

It's fine. 

But literally one hour later, Marissa emailed me to tell me that her publisher had changed her pub date: The Lightning Bottles is now coming out on September 24, the same day as my book. 

Wacky!

If you're not impressed by any of this, that's okay. I am impressed. That's why I'm keeping track.

Also, this is the book I randomly pulled off the bookshelf.


It's called Mitzi Bytes, by Kerry Clare. And here's a little bonus thing: I became Instagram friends with Kerry just a couple of weeks ago, not connecting her name in my head with this book I've owned for quite some time now (it came out in 2017 or something like that). I think we should all take this as a sign that it's time for us to read (or reread) Mitzi Bytes

Okay? Deal.


Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Weirdness Journal Entry #3: The Lightning Bottles

Welp, time for another entry in the weirdness journal! 

In case you’re just joining us now, the weirdness journal is a collection of all of the strange synchronicities and oddities surrounding the writing and publishing of my upcoming novel, I Think We’ve Been Here Before, a book which, incidentally, is about synchronicities and oddities and which has been absolutely mired in them from its conception. The story was born out of a billion conversations with a couple of good friends about synchronicities and quantum entanglement and deja vu, and it has felt as though the simple act of writing about these things has acted as a lightning rod, but for a different sort of energy, attracting all manner of strange coincidences and eerie fortuities. Like, one day I was working on the part of the book that’s about a girl desperately trying to make it home from Berlin to her family as the world is ending, and worrying that she won’t be able to get there in time, grappling with how to spend the rest of her life and not waste the whole thing wishing she was somewhere she can’t get to, and later that morning someone (who knew nothing of this book) sent me a Voxtrot song they thought I would like, called Berlin, Without Return. The first line: Do you spend your whole life trying to get back home? Weirdly specific, Voxtrot! 

Anyway. That’s not what this entry is about. 

This entry is about the one and only Marissa Stapley. 

So about a month ago I was sitting in a coffee shop staring at my computer screen (I spend so much of my time doing this, much less of it actually typing things). I’d been tasked by my Canadian publisher with the daunting job of finding some Canadian authors to blurb this book (most of the endorsements I’d already obtained were from American authors, because, to this point, most of my author life has been States-centric). I'd been putting it off—I’d already used up all of my bravery on the American authors!—but that day I realized I couldn’t any longer. I needed to just do it, already. I consoled myself: these people don’t know who you are, and if they feel offended by your presence in their email inbox, they can just delete you and will forget about you within five minutes.

One of these emails went to Marissa Stapley, and I felt especially apologetic as I hit send on that one. Authors often talk about how success in the literary world is a moving target, but Marissa is one of those people who has, in my humble opinion, quantifiably achieved it. She was the first Canadian author to have a book selected for Reese Witherspoon’s book club! She is critically-acclaimed, she is New York Times-bestselling, she is multiple-times optioned for TV!

I felt sheepish, asking if she wanted to read my book, is what I’m saying. But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, and this girl did it (applause). Much to my delight, Marissa graciously emailed back quickly and said she’d take a look, so I sent the book over before I could second guess myself anymore. 

Hurdle one, down.

I was even more delighted when Marissa emailed again, only a few days later to say that she was halfway through, was enjoying the book, and wondered if I might read and blurb her upcoming novel(!!!), The Lightning Bottles, set to publish exactly one week before mine. 

I tried, sort of, to feign nonchalance. I said I would love to, with maybe one too many exclamation points (playing it cool is for cool people). 

Okay, so here’s where it gets strange.

Marissa had her publisher send over the ARC and when it arrived I opened it immediately, settled in on my couch with a blanket and a playlist of 90s grunge music. I had only a vague idea of what the book was about; I knew it was set in the 90s and followed the story of a fictitious alt-rock band, which was all I needed to know to be very excited about it (the intersection of literature and music is my happiest place, and the 90s might be my favorite decade). It felt lucky, to get the chance to read this book early.

One page in, I noticed a funny little coincidence: The first chapter of her book was set in Berlin. It caught my eye because the first chapter of my book is also set in Berlin. I laughed to myself. I mean, my book is set only half in Berlin; the other half is set in Canada, alternating back and forth, so it’s not exactly the same, but still

Interesting, I thought, that our books come out around the same time and both have Berlin in common.

By the end of the chapter, I’d noticed another little similarity: a major theme in Marissa’s book was, apparently, street art, which is true of my book as well. In both of our novels, there's a central question, a mystery, and street art is a thread woven throughout the entire novel pointing to or hinting at the answer.

Neat-o, I said to myself. And, considering these books are coming out at the same time, we might have been writing some of these scenes at the same time. Wild!

I turned the page—only to find that Chapter Two of Marissa's book, like mine, was set in Canada. Goosebumps! It was at this point that I got out a sticky note and a pen and started keeping track of all the little similarities. 

We both have a character named Petra! I scribbled. We both have… for the sake of keeping this spoiler-free I won’t go into anything else. :)

Our books are nothing alike on the surface—mine's about a rural Saskatchewan family facing the possible end of the world, hers is a portrait of a two-piece alt-rock band facing the possible end of their career/relationship, and yet...it's as though we were both drawing from the same invisible inspiration bucket, interpreting the very specific prompts in ways that would suit our respective novels. 

What does it mean? Don't say nothing. 

I generally don't think anything means nothing, but lately this feels extra true. I mean, I almost didn't reach out to Marissa in the first place. The chances of us writing these sister books at the same time, of them coming out at the same time, of them being this oddly same-but-not-same, of me getting to read an early copy of hers...? 

At the very least, it's weird enough for the weirdness journal.

And in any case, you should preorder Marissa's book. Like I said, it comes out the week before mine, and seems to be somewhat entangled with mine in a nerdy quantum physics kind of way. Plus, I LOVED IT. I've been thinking about it all week, and it's sent me off on several musical rabbit trails. Here, I'll make it easy for you; click on this:



Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Book Soundtrack: Valencia and Valentine (may contain spoilers)


I’m in my car on my way to a coffee shop to get some writing done. I turn the corner onto Hamilton street and Aqualung’s Easier to Lie comes on and suddenly I’ve travelled back in time and back the way I’ve come, across the city again to my house. The year is 2017! Just like my house is not that far from the Warehouse District, 2017 is not that far from 2024—but still, it’s jarring to just get snapped back like that. 

I’m in my reading nook in the living room; the house is quiet. Sully and Scarlett are both asleep and Barclay's working on stuff for his new business and we have a full French press and maybe two or three hours of work ahead of us. I’ve recently signed with my agent so we’re working on some final revisions on my first novel, getting ready to send it out on subs. I’m rewriting the last chapter, again, for what feels like the millionth time (that book has had so many endings. If you hated the one you read, take heart: it ended exactly how you wanted it to in another draft). I’m listening to Aqualung’s Easier to Lie on repeat, because the way this song sounds is the way I want this chapter to feel, and because the lyrics unlock the whole book, in a way (which is kind of a wondrous thing, to me, because I didn’t find the song until after I’d written the first draft).

This memory is weird, because there’s another memory nested inside it, and the other memory isn’t real—it’s not even mine. But it’s just as vivid as the one of me in my reading nook and it comes to me alongside that one.

I’m in New York, at La Guardia, eating a plate of spaghetti and watching a fireworks show off in the distance. There’s a bike helmet on the seat beside me but I’m alone. The Aqualung song is playing somewhere in the terminal, so quiet I can barely hear it, like it’s playing in a parallel universe and leaking into this one. 

This is one of the strange, unexpected things that have come from being a person who writes books—this second set of memories that are just as real and vivid in my head as the ones I’ve lived myself. This airport memory, of course, belongs to Mrs. Valentine, from the final scene—the one that stuck—in Valencia and Valentine, a book I haven’t even read since the last time I edited it, back in 2018, but which lives in my head and into which I am pulled whenever a I hear a song that accompanied the writing of it.

And it gets even more complicated than that!

Sometimes, a scene from a book will draw inspiration from something that happened in real life. (See where I’m going with this?) Take the scene in V&V where Valencia travels to New York by herself and gets off the plane and onto a bus and ends up in Manhattan and has her jacket stolen. This series of events was lifted straight from my own life, right down to the word-for-word conversation she has with a New Yorker who has never heard of Saskatchewan. And in that real version of events, I had my trusty headphones on and was listening to a little soundtrack of songs I’d created for myself for that trip, including Ghosts by On An On, The Only Living Boy in New York by Simon and Garfunkel, and Ruby Sees All by Cake. I listened to the same soundtrack when writing the scenes, hoping it would help jog my memory and remind me how that place felt when I was there so I’d get it right.

So, when I hear any of these songs, I am taken back to my bedroom, where I wrote the New York scenes during a few of Sully’s nap times, but I am also transported to New York, where Valencia is hit by a bike and goes on a date at Cheesy Pizza with a self-obsessed busker, and I visit New York in another timeline, a real one, where I, personally, did not get hit by a bike but did get tackled by a dog and found myself at Cheesy Pizza with someone I met in Central Park. I’m experiencing three different memories, and two are real and one is made-up, but they all feel equally real, and maybe even if parallel universes aren’t a real thing, they are, you know?

Okay, another one:

There’s a piece of piano music threaded through V&V—Rachmaninoff’s Etude-Tableau in G Minor, Op. 33 No. 7. Mrs. Valentine plays it on repeat at full volume in her home throughout the book, and in her headphones on the plane, and Valencia hears it through the thin walls of her apartment, and in one of Mrs. Valentine’s stories, she stumbles across Rachmaninoff himself composing the piece in an old church on Fogo Island. The reason this song became such a backbone for the book, though, is because it’s a song that has threaded itself in the same way through my life. I learned to play it on the piano in high school, and I’ve blogged about this before (here), how that song was kind of my Linus blanket back then, how I’d sometimes sneak away during school hours into the unlocked church and play that song to calm myself down. So it’s connected to a lot of pivotal high school moments, because nothing cements a memory in your head like music, and nothing cements music in your head like emotion, and what's more emotional than a teenager? 

I’ve also written (here) about how, when I’d first finished writing V&V, and had just begun querying it, I went on a trip to Montreal with Barclay and we walked around downtown listening to that Rachmaninoff piece through shared headphones, and it was one of those beautiful, romantic, cinematic moments that I return to a lot.

This is just getting chaotic, but you can probably see how that piece of music takes me back to so many memories, real and imagined, all at once that I kind of splinter into a million pieces—or people—when I hear it. 

The same is true of the song Heart by Stars, actually. Another Linus blanket song, another reminds-me-of-many-moments song, and another song with lyrics that match the book, only this one is less of a coincidence because this time the lyrics came first. The lyrics came before anything.

Time can take its toll on the best of us

Look at you, you're growing old, so young

Traffic lights blink at you in the evening
Tilt your head and turn it to the sun
Sometimes the TV is like a lover
Singing softly as you fall asleep
You wake up in the morning and it's still there
Adding up the things you'll never be

[Chorus]
Alright, I can say what you want me to
Alright, I can do all the things you do
Alright, I'll make it all up for you
I'm still in love with you
I'm still in love with you

He held the flame I wasn't born to carry
I'll leave the dying young stuff up to you
You get back on the latest flight to paradise
I found out from a note taped to the door
I think I saw your airplane in the sky tonight
Through my window, lying on the kitchen floor




Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Something Like Fame


 I’m having extra thoughts this morning. I’m a person who has a lot of thoughts at the best of times (I’d say “don’t we all” but sometimes I ask Barclay what he’s thinking and he says, “Nothing,” and he really means it, and I can’t relate to that at all, though I admire and aspire to it) but they feel much more pressing today. And I do mean, literally, pressing

Like:

I generally picture the thoughts in my head as a cloud of mosquitos, just buzzing around in my whole skull, and sometimes these thoughts are at the front and sometimes these other thoughts are, and I’m aware of all of them all the time but I’m more aware of the ones that are buzzing around right behind my eyes. Today, I feel like all of the thoughts in my head are demanding my attention, up against my forehead, the backs of my eyeballs, filling up my sinuses. 

Miserable as that sounds, I don’t hate it. I just feel extremely…present. I can feel myself in my head.

One time, I saw someone on Twitter pose this question: Where do you exist in your body? I thought that was the weirdest thing to ask. I’m in my head! I thought. Aren’t we all in our heads? When you think about your self, isn’t it, whatever exactly ‘it’ is, in your head? If you got decapitated, wouldn’t you think “you” were in the head, not the body? 

But then people were replying that they feel like “they” exist in their chest, in their stomach, sometimes even outside of their body looking at it from somewhere else in the room, and my mind was blown. I am constantly being reminded that my experience of being a human person, my experience of existence, is not the same as everyone else’s, even down to these things that feel like they should be universal. 

I bet you’re very interested to see where this particular rabbit trail is going, aren’t you? Well, sorry, it’s going nowhere. It’s just one of the mosquitos buzzing around in my noggin. It does get weird in here.

Anyway.

I think this particular thought swarm is somewhat a result of last week’s news. It was really fun, sharing the press release about the book being optioned for TV, receiving so many encouraging notes and messages. And because I exist in my head (oh, here we go, I can tie that rabbit hole in here and make it a little less abstract), I don’t ever just feel my feelings; I think them. I observe them, I analyze them, I wonder about them. 

So I woke up this morning really thinking my feelings. I was thinking, specifically, about a couple of messages I got last week that jokingly were like, “Don’t let all this fame go to your head!” And, like, it was very much a joke, I do not actually have fame, but it got me thinking about fame, about why people want it so much. Or why they think they want it. I mean, when I see videos of actually famous people being mobbed as they try to just go to a restaurant with their friends, I mostly feel sorry for them. It doesn’t look fun. I feel like very few people actually want that. But I also feel like it’s a very common human thing to desire something tangential to it. Something easily mistaken for it.

This is an ongoing conversation I’ve been having with my friend Sarah, about why writers want to be published in the first place, about why we don’t just keep our stories in notebooks under our beds, why we’re constantly trying to push them out into the world even though the thought of doing that is so often physically uncomfortable for introverted, private people like her and me. 

We have landed on the idea that one of the best parts of writing is feeling seen. Not in an ‘I love people looking at me’ way, but more in an ‘I love people understanding me’ way. 

I actually started writing this blog post last Tuesday, the day after the announcement went out. I was sitting in my usual spot at the Brewed Awakening downtown, at the window bar looking out on Victoria Ave. It’s the best place for people watching and I feel fairly invisible there even though it’s such an obviously visible spot. But people aren’t peering into the window as they walk past; they’re in a hurry, they’re going to work, they’re meeting someone for coffee. I’m just sitting there, a little above eye-level; I have the advantage. 

On that particular day, I happened to see a familiar person walking past my perch in the window: my father-in-law, Marty.

He had his head down; it was a little windy that day, the temperature was still below zero, so he was buzzing along, but he must have sensed me in the window because he looked up and smiled at me. We waved at each other, he made a funny face—a natural reflex for him, I think. 

A moment later, the bell over the coffee shop door dinged, announcing Marty’s arrival in the shop. I thought, oh, he’s meeting someone here. He went up to the counter and ordered a large coffee and made his way over to me, walking the way people do when they’ve got a large cup of hot liquid filled right to the very top. I thought, oh, he’s coming to sit with me. But when he got to my spot, he merely set the cup on the bar in front of me, made small talk for a couple of minutes, and then said, “Well, I’ll let you get back to work!” And with a wave and a smile, he was back out on the street, going wherever he’d been going in the first place. My latte was almost gone and I was extremely happy for another cup of coffee, but it also felt like such a perfect illustration of the whole entire publishing Thing for me. 

Me, sitting in a coffee shop, observing, writing. A very enjoyable thing all on its own. But…if I’m being fully honest, the desire is not for it to be a thing all on its own. The desire, sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously, is for it to be a transaction. The desire is to be seen, to have someone not just glance at you, not to just register your basic existence, but to understand you. Like Marty, looking up and noticing me in the window, understanding me enough to know that, yes, I would love another cup of coffee, and, yes, while I enjoy your company, I have come here to work so I don’t have a lot of time to sit and visit. I felt seen. 

And that’s the way I feel when people read my books and send me emails saying, “I read this and I GOT it.” And that’s the way I felt when Paul emailed me and wanted to talk about making my book into a TV show. He had all these ideas and thoughts and all of them made me feel very seen, very understood. Evidence that I had been successful in portraying the weird vision I had in my head when I started writing that book, because here was someone picturing all the same things and describing it back to me in a way that showed it was understandable. This is the exciting thing about picturing this story on a screen—the thought of people watching it and understanding the things I wanted to say with it. The thought of seeing other creative people interpreting it and adding their two cents to it, adding nuance and meaning that I didn’t originally put in there. Being part of something more collaborative than I’ve had the chance to be part of, previously. 

But, I don’t know. 

Maybe lots of people just actually want fame.

Maybe everyone reading this is like, “Nope, you got it all wrong. People just want fame and that’s a bad instinct that we should get rid of as a society.” Maybe they’re like, “You want fame and you’re trying to justify it by dressing it up as something else.” Maybe they’re still stuck on the weird part at the beginning, where I lost them by using the word “decapitated.” 

LOL. I don’t know. The thoughts are just buzzing around. I’m just telling you about them. 

If you get it, you get it. And that makes me happy.




Thursday, February 08, 2024

Weirdness Journal Entry #2: The Little Free Library

I told someone the other day that there has been some weirdness following me since I started writing this most recent book, and it has amped up considerably since I handed in the final edits. They asked if I was keeping a journal of the weirdness, and I said I wasn't really, and they said I should. 

So I think I will, and what better place to keep a weirdness journal than right here?

And, I mean, I've already told you about the Mercury Cafe thing. So I guess that was entry #1. Consider this entry #2.

Okay, story time:

Just before Christmas, Lake Union sent me two boxes of advance reader copies to use for publicity. I can do whatever I want with them, but the point is to share them in such a way as to draw attention to I Think We've Been Here Before ahead of its release in creative ways: using them for giveaways on social media, sending them to book bloggers, things like that. It occurred to me that I should bring one to the Penny University, Regina's indie bookstore, and give it to the owner. You know, so she could read it and hopefully enjoy it and tell her customers about it and order it in. All that good stuff.

So I put a copy in my backpack one day when I was out running errands and stopped in at the Penny. I walked around, bought a book, and left without leaving mine there. 

Claaaasic Suzy. 

It was just too weird. I feel so awkward going up to people and telling them about my books. Marketing yourself online is uncomfortable enough as it is! And I know I'm supposed to just suck it up and do it, but that day I felt vulnerable and shy and I decided I'd wait for a braver day. 

A braver day did indeed come along, and I found myself, once again, at the Penny with that ARC in my backpack. But Annabel, the owner, wasn't working that day; it was some other guy I'd never met before. He was very nice, but I wasn't about to be like, "HEY I'M AN AUTHOR HERE IS MY BOOK DO YOU WANT IT?"

So I left, yet again, with the ARC in my backpack. Guess it wasn't a braver day, after all.

This happened...a few times. Which is kind of okay. I like going to Penny University. Wandering a bookstore is not a pain, not a chore. Buying a new book is a treat. I thought to myself each time, I am just a person much more suited to online self-promotion. It's very okay

Okay, SO.

This past Wednesday, I was working in a coffee shop downtown and when I went to pack up my laptop, I noticed that forgotten ARC still in my backpack. I felt that familiar rush of courage, and I thought, this is ridiculous. Today is the day. Besides, it was gorgeous outside—almost positive temperatures, only a little wind. I had some coffee left in my go cup. I thought to myself, I'm going to park a few blocks from Penny U, take a little walk down 13th, and get rid of this thing once and for all. 

So I drove to the Village, parked the car, and set off. 

It was such a nice day for a walk. I was in a great mood. And it felt like fate because as I walked up the steps to the Penny's front door, Annabel was just coming out of it.

"Well hi!" I said, feeling the weight of the ARC in my backpack.

"Hello!" she said. "Are you coming to the book signing this afternoon?" 

I thought of saying, "No, actually, I'm just here to drop something off for you!" 

Instead, I said, "I'm hoping to!" 

And then Annabel and I had a quick discussion about, of all things, book marketing. Not my book marketing, but book marketing in general. It came up because we were talking about the author whose book signing was that day and we had both noticed how great she is at book marketing (shout out to Victoria Koops). 

It could've been a very natural opener for me. 

"Speaking of marketing," I could've said. And then I could've just reached into my backpack and handed her the ARC. Did I do that? Nope!

So we finished talking about other people's books and she took off down 13th to meet someone for lunch. And that was that. I'd failed yet again!

It didn't dampen my good mood though. I'm used to being a coward. I took a spin through the bookstore, headed down 13th to the Paper Umbrella to say hi to Brad and/or Theresa (neither of whom ended up being in that day, rats), and then headed back to my car, which I thought I had left on Montague Street. 

Spoiler: no I hadn't. 

I frowned, confused. Maybe I had left it on Athol?

Nope.

Garnet?

No.

Cameron?

No. 

Robinson?

No. 

At this point, I was thinking my car had been stolen. It was just not anywhere. I cut through a back alley and paused, frowning at yet another slushy road without my car on it. I didn't even know which one it was at this point. I decided to head back to the Penny and retrace my steps a little more carefully. As I started off again, I noticed an adorable little Free Library on a lawn to my left. I thought to myself, why not make this trip worthwhile? I'm getting rid of this thing one way or another. I pulled Annabel's ARC out of my backpack. Sorry, Annabel, I thought to myself as I placed the book into the little wooden box. Maybe someday I'll get up the nerve to annoy booksellers face-to-face. Today, I'm just going to release this thing into the wild and see what happens. It's more my style, to just quietly leave a book somewhere and hope it accomplishes something on its own.

(Shh. Do you hear that? It's the sound of a hundred thousand sighing publicists.)

I carried on my way, feeling a sense of accomplishment. And when I got to the end of the block, like magic, there was my car! I'd parked, not on a side street, but right on 13th. How could I have forgotten that? Bizarre.

I drove home. I forgot about the ARC. 

The next day, I was sitting on my couch and my phone dinged with an Instagram notification. 

This is what I saw:


Yup. That Little Free Library? Annabel's. 

There is nothing left to say except: isn't that weird?



Monday, February 05, 2024

THREE TWO ONE! ONE TWO THREE! WHAT THE HECK! IS BOTHERING ME?

 I’ve been having a hard time concentrating on much the past few weeks, so I’m drafting this blog post instead of working. Not a great use of my time, since I actually have a lot of work to do, but maybe I’ll be more productive if I get this out of my head:

The date is January 30, 2024. I’m sitting at my kitchen table. I have my laptop and a cup of coffee and a bag of Milkybars and my eye is twitching. This is a newish thing for me, the twitch. It happens when I am anxious, when I am excited, when I am tired, when I am stressed. There’s a muscle in there that has HAD IT with me. I remind myself of Carl Winslow—from the 90s sitcom Family Matters—in the episode where he gets so annoyed with his next-door neighbor, Steve Urkel, that he develops a melodramatic eye twitch. He goes to see a therapist; the therapist tells him he needs to chill out. He spends the whole episode walking around his house yelling, “THREE TWO ONE! ONE TWO THREE! WHAT THE HECK! IS BOTHERING ME?”

It doesn’t seem to help him. I might try it.

But I’m not stressed. I’m not annoyed. I’m not anxious. I’m having a great time, actually, and the great time is just a little too great for my nervous system. 

Hence, the eye twitch. 

I have just gotten off the phone—I am trying to say this in a way that doesn’t sound pretentious or ridiculous or braggy or even self-deprecating, but I can’t think of one, so—I have just gotten off the phone with a Hollywood producer who wants to turn my book, I Think We’ve Been Here Before, into a TV show. This is a very surreal thing, and I’m not sure I’m awake. 

Barclay once asked me, way back at the beginning of all this book stuff, this question: If you could steal a career from someone, whose career would you steal?

I didn’t even have to think about it: Nick Hornby, duh. He’s published a whole bunch of books, books that are funny and moving and full of music and smart little musings on life. But even cooler than that: he’s had so many of his books turned into movies and TV shows—and, like, good movies and TV shows. 

If I had his career, I said to Barclay, I’d be very happy. But really: if I could have even one book made into something else, I would be just over the moon. Tickled pink. Floored. Elated. I have this recurring daydream where I go to a movie theatre and I sit in one of those cushy theatre seats, and the lights go down and there are a few previews and then the lights go down even more and the opening credits start rolling and then those words are on the screen. You know the ones:

Based on the novel by Suzy Krause

And in the daydream, by this point, I’m just—sobbing. Just a mess. Just crying so loudly, and I have no Kleenex, because I never do, and I’m trying to contain myself with the sleeves of my sweater and it’s a spectacle. And there’s this girl sitting a few seats down from me and she’s just staring at me like, what’s your problem, the movie has not started yet, nothing sad has happened, why are you like this. 

And I don’t care. I don’t care at all. My wildest dreams are coming true and I’m, what’s the word, verklempt. 

And this random daydream girl gets up and she moves far away from me, because I am, at this point, just downright disruptive. That’s okay, I didn’t want to sit by this girl anyway. Hey, why am I alone in this scenario at the movie theatre? In my own daydream? If my book ever got made into a movie and the movie played in theatres, like, you guys would come with me to see it, right? 

Anyway.

See, this is the weird thing: my brain is so used to this daydream that I can’t shift it from the daydream ruts to the reality ruts. Even as I’m writing this blog post, I’m just sliding over into the daydream version of it.

So, reality. You're  thinking to yourself, Good. I don’t care about this daydream, this thing that hasn’t happened. I came here to read about what has happened, and how it happened, and what’s going to happen next. That’s fair. I’ll try to tell you:

What has happened: my book has been optioned. This is, essentially, the first step in a piece of intellectual property being made into a film or TV show. I kind of understand what’s going on, but I have a film agent who understands it better than I do, and thank goodness for that. It’s her job to understand it for me, so I don’t get myself into hot water or miss something important or sign a contract saying some Hollywood character can have the IP AND my firstborn son. So I don’t understand it well enough to tell you what’s going on other than that the aforementioned producer is doing a lot of work behind the scenes trying to get all of the stars (like the actual people stars) to align so he can make a Thing. Besides stars, he also needs backers and directors and screenwriters and so on and so forth. This is a huge job, and this is his job, and my job is just to, like, sit here and cross my fingers SO hard. (Cross your fingers with me?)

How it happened: Ok, so about two years ago (I think? Right, Paul?) this man named Paul Davidson reached out to me by email. He had written a book called The Small Stuff (click the link! Buy the book! It’s really good!) and was wondering if I could read it and offer up a blurb. I said yes. I read the book, loved it, wrote a little blurb, sent it back. Thus, we became friends. 

(Asking another author for a blurb is such a vulnerable, terrifying thing. If you do it, and they say yes, it’s pretty much instant friendship.)

We stayed in touch and I blurbed another book of his a year later (Company of Foos, also great, CLICK THE LINK BUY THE BOOK). When I sent the blurb along, he thanked me and reminded me that he was always happy to return the favour. I said, “Thanks! How about…right now?” 

And he was like, “Okay!”

So I sent him an ARC for I Think We’ve Been Here Before

A week later, I woke up to the sound of the front door opening (don’t worry; it wasn’t Paul. Wouldn’t that be funny though? If he read the book and drove all the way from LA to Canada to bust down my front door and yell into the house, “SUZY! WE’RE MAKING A MOVIE!” That might have been a more exciting story. This one is still good; it’s just less intense). 

The person opening the door was Barclay (this makes more sense, doesn’t it?). He was headed outside with Sully to shovel snow. I reached over to the bedside table and grabbed my phone, which dinged in my hand, alerting me that an email had come in sometime during the night. The email was from Paul. There were a lot of lowercase letters, but my eyes were still full of sleep and they grazed past all those lowercase letters and drifted directly to the ones in the middle of the email in all-caps: THIS SHOULD BE A MOVIE.

I woke up a little bit more and read the rest of the email. It was very kind, and there was a blurb in it, which you will find on the back cover of I Think We’ve Been Here Before when it comes out in September, but after the blurb there was a bit about how, though I knew Paul as an author, his actual day job was as an executive in Hollywood and a producer. He wanted to option my book. Turn it into something you could watch on a screen.

I was surprised to read this, as you can imagine. I yelled, “BARCLAY GUESS WHAT!” (Because he was still standing at the front door putting his boots on.)

He yelled back, “WHAT?”

And I yelled back, “PAUL WANTS TO OPTION MY BOOK!”

And he was like, “THAT’S COOL, BABE.”

But the words sounded so weird coming out of my mouth, flying through the house. They sounded…delusional. 

What if—and this was seeming more likely by the minute—what if Paul was just being nice? Like, what if this email wasn’t so much a business email as a friendship email, and him being like, “I want to option your book” wasn’t so much him being like, “I want to option your book” as it was him being like, “You said nice things about my books and now it’s my turn to say nice things about your book and the nicest thing I can think of to say about a person’s book is ‘I want to option your book.’” You know, like how people are like, when they’re eating a really good sandwich, or even just a sandwich made by someone whose feelings they don’t want to hurt, “This sandwich is so good; I want to marry this sandwich.”

They don’t actually want to marry this sandwich. We all know this. And maybe, probably, Paul didn’t actually want to option my book.

So I tempered my expectations and replied with cautious gratitude to Paul’s email, at which point he doubled down: he asked me to pass his info along to my film agent. It was like he got caught hyperbolically saying “I want to marry this sandwich” and instead of being like, “Obviously I don’t want to marry this sandwich,” he said, “Bring me a clergyman!”

And he has only continued to double down. There's a contract! There's a press release! There are phone calls being made! PHONE CALLS! So what I’m saying is, if he was just trying to be nice, he is in WAY over his head at this point.

(Can you imagine?)

As for what’s going to happen next: I am going to walk around my house with my eyes twitching all over the place, yelling, "THREE TWO ONE! ONE TWO THREE! WHAT THE HECK! IS BOTHERING ME?"

Oh, you mean, what happens next, like, with the option and the Paul and all that: I have no idea. Like I said, this is not my industry, not my area of expertise. What I hope happens next? I hope we attach a great screenwriter, an incredible director, a stellar cast, and a sweet studio. I hope someone wants to pay for all of it. I hope my daydream comes true. I could take or leave the girl who's all weirded out by my emotional outburst, but it would kind of be poetic if she was there, wouldn't it? I'd probably lean over and say, "Hey, you don't know me, but we've met before...in this dream I had." 

Actually, no, that's probably not a thing I should do.

In any case, I will absolutely keep you posted.

UPDATE: It's now February 5 and I've been given the go-ahead to hit publish on this ramble. 

Click on this to read more:

THREE TWO ONE...






Thursday, January 25, 2024

Weirdness Journal Entry #1: The Mercury Cafe

I have now been in Publishing World for seven or eight years, and in that time I’ve never met any of the Publishing World main characters in real life. I’ve never met my agent, for example, never met any of the people who work at the publishing house (or any of the other authors there, many of whom I have become very close to online). I’ve never met any of the people working behind the scenes doing foreign translations or marketing or film rights stuff. There are even people I only communicate with through other people; I've not shared so much as an email with them myself. It’s a very disembodied thing, happening over the phone and the internet, which can make it feel a little unreal. 

And it’s not just the publishing professionals with whom I’ve felt this disconnect; it’s the whole literary ecosystem. Lake Union, who published my first two books, is in the States, so obviously they market my books to American readers (and they do a VERY good job of that). That’s where my readers live, where the book clubs are who invite me to join them on Zoom. Like the agents and editors and publicists, I don’t really get to meet readers. I get lovely emails from them, and they tag me on Instagram, but I very rarely get to see them face to face.

People say, you’re an author! That’s so fun! And I’m like, Yes, very fun! But…I’m not actually sure any of it’s real. What I might be is the victim of an elaborate hoax. It might actually be quite embarrassing.

So last spring, when my agent, Victoria, and I started talking about my third book, I threw out kind of a weird idea: I said, I want to stay with Lake Union, because I love my editors there, I love the way they treat their authors, I love their cover design and marketing and communication and—well, many other things. I love Lake Union. 

But.

Could we possibly, I asked her, hang on to the Canadian rights and sell those to a Canadian publisher? I even had one in mind: Radiant Press, an indie publisher right here in Regina. I met John Kennedy, the co-publisher of Radiant, at a Penny University event and had a brief conversation about publishing and marketing and creativity that was exciting to me, and I’d gone home and researched them a bit and felt very interested in working with them.

But also, and I didn’t say this to Victoria at the time, I’d long had this romantic idea of being an author who lived in the same city as their publisher—like every author in every movie, who writes in their New York apartment and then strolls down the street for an in-person meeting with their publishing team, who is VERY EXCITED ABOUT THIS BOOK! and leans across a table—a real table, with a good, solid cup of coffee on it—gesticulating wildly as they discuss cover design and marketing strategies and launch parties. I think I’ve grown out of my desire to actually live in New York, but I’ve developed a Canadian version of that daydream: I've pictured myself in Regina’s Cathedral Village, in the Mercury Cafe, in one of those bright red booths by the window, my editor across the table holding a cup of coffee and speaking in that Publishing World lingo I’ve grown so fond of but don't often get to use in my everyday life. 

This is the daydream I’ve been having for well over a year now. I’m not making this up. 

You’re thinking, Suzy, why would I think you’re making this up?

You’ll see. Hang on.

Victoria is wonderful. She is smart and industry-savvy and willing to try new things. Still, this plan made her pause. She warned me that holding back rights was a risky move, that most publishers wanted world rights, and that if I kept those rights and then couldn’t sell them, the book would simply not be released in Canada. 

At all.

So I paused too. For all of 30 seconds. 

And then I was like, “Let’s try it anyway.”

Because I had that vision, about the red booths and the coffee, about being part of the Canadian publishing ecosystem and meeting my readers and not feeling like I didn’t exist in my own country.

I should try to make a long story short, here, because a lot happened between this and the next thing. We sent the book off to Lake Union in...October? I think? 

We had a tentative offer in December; it came through while I was sitting in the school gymnasium waiting for Scarlett's Christmas concert to start.

The deal memo came in January, and I signed the contract in March—for world rights except Canada. It was official! We were going to try to sell the Canadian rights all by themselve. It was a bit leap-of-faithy, and pretty scary. What if Radiant didn't want my book? 

Then again: what if they did?

Ah, here's where I can shorten the long story a bit more: they did. 

Phew. Right? PHEW. 

I signed with them in November, a little over a year after sending the manuscript to Lake Union. (Publishing is nothing if not the actual slowest thing in the world.)

And then, in January of 2024, I got an email from Debra, the publisher at Radiant Press, and—I'm being 100% honest with you right now—in this email she asked me if I would like to meet up at the Mercury Cafe for coffee to discuss my book. 

It was only in that moment that I realized how weirdly specific my daydream had been, about meeting up with a publisher in one of the red booths at the Mercury Cafe. It's not like I live in a tiny village with one local watering hole, you know what I mean? There are many, many places to conduct business in Regina, Saskatchewan. But my brain was like, "THE FIFTIES DINER ON 13TH. THAT'LL BE IT." 

And it was.

Our meeting happened on Tuesday. I walked up to the Mercury, experiencing the oddest sense of deja vu, because it was just like in my daydream. And John was there, standing out front, and he turned to me and said, "Ah—Suzy?" 

And I said, "Yes, hello!" 

And we shook hands and he told me Debra would be there soon and we went into the diner and we stood there for a moment, surveying the space—tables and chairs to the left, the big red window booths to the right. John gestured at one of the booths, like he knew he was supposed to, and said, "Shall we sit here?"

Do you want to know what the weirdest thing about all of this is? My book, the one we met at the Mercury to discuss, is about a family who finds themselves at the end of the world. And as they face this completely unprecedented thing, they find that it feels like something they remember. And they keep having these moments of deja vu, these glitchy little things that happen that make it seem like they've seen into the future, but it doesn't feel to them like seeing the future, it feels like remembering it, like having a daydream and then having the daydream come true. 

So, I don't know, man. I'm having a weird time. You don't know the half of it.

ANYWAY.

The meeting was wonderful; it was exactly what I dreamed it would be, because of course it was. We sat in the big red booth for two and a half hours and I drank probably five cups of coffee. We talked about my book and about books in general and about cover design and marketing and launch parties and it felt collaborative and fun and New Yorky, but in a very Saskatchewany way. 

Life is so weird, isn't it?

Weird and good.



Monday, January 15, 2024

A New Project

I’m back at the Bean this morning. This is no small feat today; it’s almost -50 with the windchill and the walk from my car to the coffee shop was treacherous—by the time I made it inside, my eyeballs were frozen like grapes in their sockets and I’d completely forgotten what it was like to feel warmth or comfort or joy. Victoria was standing behind the counter and I stared at her for a moment, trying to catch my breath. 

“It’s cold out there!” I said at last. 

Because I am a writer, a wordsmith, a capital C Creative

I wonder how many times this past week and today and this coming week Victoria has had and will have this exact sentence spoken to her in exactly this way. It makes me sad to realize I am so derivative, so pedestrian, so lacking in pizazz or originality.

But I am cold, okay, my brain is frozen, the synapses are not firing; I am like a car who needs someone with a bigger, more durable winter brain to come along and hook me up to jumper cables.

In lieu of that, I am writing here, on this blog, trying to jump start my brain by myself. 

I’m working on a new project. 

I Think We’ve Been Here Before comes out next September, which means that I have eight months ahead of marketing and promotion and meetings and publicity. In some ways, this is my least favourite part of publishing. I hate—have always hated—talking about my books. (I thought this shyness would go away with time but it hasn’t.) But there are also things that happen in this period of time that I like a lot and am so excited for. Reaching out to my favourite book bloggers to send ARCs, taking fun little pictures for social media, brainstorming ways to make connections with booksellers and libraries and readers, holding the finished copies in my hands and reading early reviews. It sounds like such a contradiction to say I hate promoting my book but also I love promoting my book and I don’t know what to tell you: I contain multitudes. 

But I have found that the very best use of this time is to work on The Next Thing, so that’s what I’m doing, and I’m having a very nice time. It’s quite weird and I’m at the stage where it’s new and shiny and I’m just watching the words appear on the screen like someone else is writing through my fingers, just daydreaming and letting the story be as strange as it wants to be without having to consider whether an editor at a publishing house will be able to win over an acquisitions board with it. In some ways, this is my favourite part of publishing. I love—have always loved—being surprised by an idea as it forms, daydreaming about where it could go and where it will land. But there is also a very uncomfortable aspect to this stage, if I’m being honest, an impatience to get the whole thing out and send it off to my agent, to see if has any merit or if I’m just being silly. It sounds like such a contradiction to say I love the beginning part of writing a book but also that I hate it and I don’t know what to tell you. 

Okay. I think my brain battery has been sufficiently jump-started, so I’m going to get back at it. May we all survive this ridiculous polar vortex.



Monday, January 08, 2024

I Think We've Been Here Before

Happy New Year! 

I hope your holidays were eventful, if you like eventful holidays, or uneventful if that's what you prefer. I hope you partied hard or slept a lot, or some pleasant combination of both.

As for me, I did more partying than sleeping and I'm tired but very happy to get back into routine and eat something healthy...right after I finish all the left over snacks I've hidden from the kids on top of the fridge.

Anyway! New year, new news: I've written another book and it's Official:


It’s called I Think We’ve Been Here Before and I’ve been describing it to people as slice of life speculative fiction—think, the coziness of Stuart McLean’s Vinyl CafĂ© with the something's-not-quite-right undercurrent of Iain Reid’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things. It comes out September 2024. 

Here's a picture of me signing the contract, for posterity (not sure why posterity wants it, but anyway):


And here's the synopsis, straight from my publisher:

With the end of the world predicted, reality bends in an unexpectedly quirky and heartwarming novel about human connection and the meaning of life and death by the bestselling author of Sorry I Missed You.

Marlen and Hilda Jorgensen’s family has received two significant pieces of news: one, Marlen has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Two, a cosmic blast is set to render humanity extinct within a matter of months. It seems the coming Christmas on their Saskatchewan farm could be their last.

Preparing for the inevitable, they navigate the time they have left together. Marlen and Hilda have channeled their energy into improbably prophetic works of art. Hilda’s elderly father receives a longed-for visitor from his past. Hilda’s teenaged nephew goes missing, and his mother refuses to believe the world is ending. All the while, Hilda’s daughter struggles to find her way home from Berlin with the help of an oddly familiar stranger. For everyone, there’s an unsettling feeling that this unprecedented reality is something they remember…


I sold this book to Lake Union, the magnificent publisher behind my first two books, last spring, and because I sold it on spec. (a general synopsis of the book idea and first three chapters) I had to then write it super fast, which was exhilarating and terrifying and all-consuming. I spent the summer editing it, working early mornings and late nights, and now it’s in the weird purgatoryish place between editing and publishing, where my only job is to convince as many people as possible to buy it. (like so: I THINK WE’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE is available for preorder for all of my non-Canadian friends wherever books are sold. You can order it from your local indie, which is always my favorite option, but it’s also on Chapters, B&N, Target, Amazon, etc. Canadian friends: I will absolutely let you know when it’s available for you.)

Would you like to see the cover? This is not it:


That’s right—I said not. The graphic above is one of the cover designs that didn’t quite make the final cut. Isn’t it so pretty though? It’s currently the lock screen on my phone. The artist is Philip Pascuzzo, whose name you might recognize—as well as designing that iconic little blue bird formerly known as the Twitter symbol, he also designed the cover for my first novel, Valencia and Valentine. And now, he’s responsible for the beautiful artwork you see above, and also for the artwork that will be on the final cover of this, my third novel. 

The actual cover: 


I love it. 

But wait! More news! Just a little bit more.

I’m extremely pleased to announce that the incredible Radiant Press will be releasing this book in Canada.  I met them a few years ago and had a very fun conversation about publishing and creativity and marketing and I remember leaving that conversation all amped up and trying to brainstorm ways that I could work with them in the future.

Well, as they say, the future is now.

Okay. That's all the sharable news I have at the moment, but I'll keep you in the loop.

Thank you so much for being here, reading this, reading my weird little books, being so great. I'm thankful for you—if there were no you, there would be no any of this, and I would just be bored all the time.


Sunday, December 31, 2023

The ABCs of 2023

It’s the last day of 2023, which is so trippy because if you were to shake me awake in the middle of the night and, before I had a chance to fully come into consciousness, yell, “SUZY, QUICK, WHAT YEAR IS IT?” I would probably reply, “Mm…2008?”

2023 is, to me, The Future. The intelligence is artificial and the cars drive themselves the internet is so fast and people have virtual reality goggles in their houses (this one is very big for me, because when I was a teenager I watched a movie about the end of the world where everyone had virtual reality goggles in their houses and when they put them on there was a guillotine and they were getting their heads actually chopped off in the virtual reality world but also, somehow, in the real life world…anyway. Guillotines were a very present and constant fear for me at that time, and so were VR goggles).

But here we are! We’re in The Future and it is very much like I’d always imagined it would be, minus, so far, the guillotines. Maybe 2024 is the year of the guillotines. Who knows? 

But the point of this exercise is not that. The point of this exercise is to reminisce and recap and recollect; it is absolutely not to worry about whether 2024 will be the year of the guillotine. 

So, okay. Without further weird ado, and as I do every year on this day, my ABCs of 2023: 

A - ARCS: I read a lot of Advance Reader Copies of books written by friends and a lot of friends read ARCs of my upcoming book (see “S”). Some of these friends were ones I already had, and some of them were people who became friends when they read my book or I read theirs (if you are unfamiliar with ARCs and blurbing, a brief explanation: many months before a book is published, the publisher will print up ARCs, which are bound, not-fully-edited copies of the manuscript. They send them out to other authors to read, and hopefully those authors will send back a quippy little blurb to put on the book’s cover. “Neat-O book!” “Read it in a day!” “Suzy Krause wrote another book! Why does she keep doing this to us?” It’s an extremely nerve wracking thing, to ask for blurbs, but I love when people ask me to do it for them. You get to read a book early! You get to say nice things about another author! You get your name on a book cover without having to write a book!). 

B - Brutus fell off a mountain; I’m sure you remember that. But what you don’t know, as far as I know, is that Brutus was kidnapped shortly after he arrived back home. Scarlett took him to school with her, and left him in her backpack while she went to class. When she came out to get him for recess…yep. He was gone. Don’t worry, this story has yet another happy ending! I found another Brutus on Varage Sale, only this time the seller was not willing to part with him as a single. So you can imagine Scarlett’s absolute JOY when she came home to find not only Brutus, but Brutus AND 13 of his very best friends! I tried to pass it off like he’d done another big adventure, swinging by Shoppers to pick up some friends on his way, but this time Scarlett just hugged me and said, “Mom. I think you bought me a new Brutus.” And she seemed pretty okay with that and it was one of those moments that make you feel like you’re in an episode of Full House. (Brutus better not have any more adventures though, I think that was the last one on Varage Sale.)

C - Calgary. We took a sweet little trip to Calgary for a few day days. Our friend Jason chauffeured us around the city and took us to find good coffee and a good library and a good music centre and, yes, even that good aforementioned mountain. We enjoyed it so thoroughly it might have to be a yearly Thing.

D - Dates: Barclay and I went on a lot of breakfast dates while the kids were in school, because when you are your own boss you can be like, sure, go have breakfast and come into work a little late today; that’s okay! We like being our own bosses so much. We are the nicest bosses to ourselves. (Although sometimes we make ourselves work nights and weekends and holidays.)

E - Edits: The summer of 2023 was one absolutely consumed by book edits. A little tricky, with the kids home. I’d get up at 5:30 am and head to Regina’s only open coffee shop and work until 10 or 11, and then I’d trade off with Barclay and he’d work until he was able to come home and then I’d trade off with him again. People sometimes ask how you write books when you have kids around, and the answer is: YOU JUST MAKE IT WORK. THERE IS A CONTRACT. IT HAS TO HAPPEN. 

F - Fourteen: Barclay and I celebrated 14 years of being married. 

G - Globe and Mail: Barclay and I both got into The Globe and Mail this year. I had a short story published about the time I made friends with two elderly gentlemen while parallel parking, and Barclay was interviewed for a piece about being an entrepreneur in Regina. 

H - Hooky. I stole Sully from school a couple of times this year, once to play mini golf and once to hit up the arcade. 

I - I started doodling on Post-It notes again, for fun and to jog a different part of my brain than the part I use for writing. I’d missed it!

J - Job site: I visited a few of Barclay’s job sites this year. They’re very fun to see; his crew does really cool stuff, but also it’s so sweet when someone you love has a big dream and then they go and make it happen and you can literally stand on the tangible evidence of that dream coming true. 

K - Kids: the kids had birthdays this year, which should not be surprising to anyone. What might surprise you, however, is that they are now 7 and 10. That’s old. I am old. You are old. We are all old. And getting older with every passing day! 

L - Left the city without the kids! I mean. I did not go far. But once I went to Moose Jaw with Barclay and once I went to Raymore to meet Becky and eat gas station pizza. 

M - Massage: I had my first-ever-in-my-whole-life-for-real-at-a-spa MASSAGE. It was so nice. 

N - Not a lot of live music this year, very sadly. I saw the symphony, went to folk fest, attended a Sound of Music sing-a-long and a book launch where a few people played music, and overheard a woman humming at the grocery store. If I have a single resolution for 2024 it is MORE LIVE MUSIC.

O - Overlooked this letter.

P - Public speaking: Despite the fact that I loathe it more than pretty much anything I can think of, I did a lot of public speaking this year. When I say this to people, they keep saying to me, “You must be getting better at it! It must be scaring you less!” I am sad to report this is not the case. 

Q - Quantum entanglement: my favourite topic to research and think about and discuss in 2023. (Oh, I love it.)

R - Read quite a few books. Didn’t really keep track of how many, this year. I think that’s okay though! Why would anyone care how many books I read?

S - Sold a book! Sold it twice, in fact—world rights (minus Canada) to Lake Union, Canadian rights to Radiant Press. Its name is I Think We’ve Been Here Before and it’ll be available wherever books are sold on September 24, 2024. More on that to come. 

T - 

U - Upgraded my cell phone, finally. I had an SE from 2015 and it was malfunctioning a lot. 

V - Viewed a lot of movies but nothing really stood out for me as something I MUST TELL YOU ABOUT.

W - Winnipeg: We took a family vacation to Winnipeg! We saw the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Christopher Robin statue and the Lego store and polar bears.

X - XXXVI - I turned 36 this year! 

Y - Yes! Thank you for asking, I DID keep most of my houseplants alive this year. Maybe more than any other year in my life! 

Z - Zzzzz… I probably also took more naps this year than any other. Is there a correlation between this and my houseplants not dying all the time?

Possibly. Tune in next year. I will sleep more just to see if more houseplants survive. And when Barclay’s like, wow, why do you take so many naps? I’ll just say, “Science,” and go back to sleep.