It has been a different kind of Christmas for me this year. Usually, I fly home to Halifax on Christmas Eve and then spend a jam-packed week visiting as many relatives as I can squeeze in. It's a run, run Rudolph pace with the occasional panic of being stuck in an airport in either direction due to storms.
Not this year. I stayed in Victoria. I'll take it as a kind of Christmas miracle that it snowed December 24, granting me a white Christmas after all. On Christmas morning, I Skyped with my family, who later enjoyed a turkey dinner in candlelight due to a power outage. As for me, I enjoyed a Christmas feast with new friends I met through Cory, the reason I stayed in Victoria this year.
Cory is a three-month-old black Lab I am raising for BC and Alberta Guide Dogs. She is adorable, rambunctious, strong-willed, goofy and exhausting. And she will spend a year with me in puppy training. So I am dubbing 2018 the Year of the Dog. It just so happens that the Chinese calendar agrees. On February 16, Chinese New Year ushers in the Year of the Dog. A year of lifestyle changes, which I can already attest to, thanks to Cory. More on that in the next post.
For now, I will appreciate the kindness of friends who have been helping me adjust, supporting me over the initial hurdles and enveloping me in their holiday traditions. I will leave all of you with a wish for peace and joy in 2018 and with a photo of Cory to melt your heart.
A powerful movement has begun. I link it back to the women's march that happened the day after Trump was sworn in. I attended the march here in Victoria and was awed by the energy of the crowd, which was made up of women of all ages. Women's rights felt threatened and en masse we stood up to protest.
Flash forward nine months to the #metoo phenomenon. Women once again are standing up to say no more. You cannot touch my body without consent. You do not have the right to sexually harrass me, denigrate me or demand sexual favours for a job, promotion or service.
Over my lifetime, I have experienced various forms of sexism, harrassment and assault. From a pat on the rear to attempted rape. The sad truth is that every single woman I know has similar stories. The disturbing truth is that we all just tried to forget these injusticies. Because they are so commonplace, they were accepted as part of the culture. "Men are pigs." We shrugged our shoulders and moved on.
But increasingly this fall, brave women are calling out abusers and demanding justice. I applaud all women who find their voices and come forward. Our culture will never change if we allow our sons, our male friends, our boyfriends, our bosses or any other man in our lives to mistreat us and other women. Say it calmly and clearly: you do not have the right.
I await news of criminal cases against serial abusers like Weinstein. Only when the police and the courts take these crimes seriously will we truly turn the tide. When I called out colleagues at two former jobs, my supervisors did nothing. In fact, they made excuses for their bad behaviour. That has to end.
The vulnerability of women is a key theme in my writing. Although we make up half the population, we are not afforded the same privileges, opportunities or rights. It is easy to point the finger at other countries, but the #metoo movement shines a light on where we must do better right here at home. Let's keep the conversation going.
My book tour wrapped up in Victoria on Tuesday, October 17. I had a fabulous time reading from my book and meeting fellow writers and readers in the different cities across Canada. I am so appreciative of the support shown by the book stores, the FogLit festival organizers, my publisher and the family and friends who came out to cheer me on.
Now I turn my attention to the next book, while keeping a watchful eye on the reviews and feedback that continue to come in. I'm excited to immerse myself in a new world and begin the creative process again. For inspiration, I have the books I recently picked up while on the tour. I am anticipating a very cozy fall and winter in rainy Victoria, either curled up by the fire reading or sitting at my computer writing.
Happy fall reading to you as well!
Thanks to everyone who came out to my reading of Plastic at the Halifax Public Library Central Branch on Monday, October 2. It was great to see so many family members, some friends from high school and even my grade 6 teacher, Ms. Ternan!
I feel so grateful to have another dream come true. Next, I'm back in Victoria as the featured reader at the CAA-Victoria Speak Easy event. I look forward to seeing you there!
In classic Atlantic Canadian style, the FogLit Festival was a party! Free food and drink for the attendees, lots of laughs and such great company. I read at the Novel Tea event in the Stone Church on Friday, September 29, with Bridget Canning, Jan Wong and Grace O'Connell. What an honour! Jan read from her book Apron Strings about her travels with her son through France, Italy and China to learn about the cuisine and culture of each nation. Bridget read from her debut novel, The Greatest Hits of Wanda Jaynes, about an accidental heroine in St. John's, and Grace read from her second novel, Be Ready for the Lightning, which takes a frightening situation, the hijacking of a bus, to show that even in extreme circumstances we can still offer compassion.
On Saturday, I presented a workshop on writing short fiction. Thanks to the participants for showing up ready and eager to put into practice some of the tips I shared about the craft of writing a short story. I was impressed by the diversity of the participants, both in terms of demographics (from a tween to retirees) and writing styles (horror, literary fiction as well as elaborate shopping lists!).
I want to send a huge thank you to Andrea, Laura, Carole, John, Kathryn and the countless others who worked so hard to make the festival a success. I cannot praise them enough for their dedication and kindness. Saint John residents are so lucky to have a festival like FogLit, and I encourage writers from across the region to check it out next year.
I'm sharing a few photos of the city to whet the appetite. First, a view of a cruise ship sailing out of the harbour. Then, the Saint John Free Public Library, where the workshop was held. The title screen from my deck for the workshop and a picture of the reversing rapids just outside the city.
A writer's journey