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Publication Tales: Story in Moving Across the Landscape in Search of an Idea

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My most recent short story sale is a unique one. A little while ago, Air and Nothingness Press, a publication I have worked with before, put out an unusual call. Short fiction comprised of a really long title (250+ words) with a short narrative (250-800 words) and rounded out with lengthy marginalia (250-800 words), with the total ending up around 1500 words. Right away, I was drawn in by the challenge of it and wanted to see if I could put together a coherent story under these parameters. With my background in academia, I already knew a thing or two about annoying long titles. I also was familiar with plenty of marginalia studying ancient languages. Oftentimes, the texts are published with more commentary than text. Using this background as a starting point, I knew mine would have to be some sort of textbook/research paper. Pretty straightforward for this assignment, right? I figured I’d do some ancient text discovered by an archaeologist or something. But, that’s when my brain starte

Short Story Reflections: Simplicity

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  In high school English class, one of my teachers taught me that short stories are about single moments or one event/time in a character’s life, as opposed to a novel which covers a whole span. Before that, I struggled with the concept of a “short” story, but using that advice, I was able to write a story focused around one event and received one of my highest creative writing marks in high school. To this day, I keep that piece of advice in the back of my mind when I write short stories.  It may not be a perfect piece of advice, because of course stories, even short ones, consist of multiple moments and events, but the way I use it is to remind myself that short stories should focus on one major thing and not try to encompass too much. The idea being to keep the stories simple - at least in terms of plot or concept. Too often, I try to over complicate my short stories and have to rein myself in. I tend to want to have too many characters or too large of a setting. Like in my story, “

Book Review: Ghost Station by S. A. Barnes

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Dr. Ophelia Bray is a psychologist trying to escape her past. The unwanted daughter of an infamous family, she is shunned by those who know her real identity, even though she is more victim than perpetrator. When something gruesome happens, it’s easier to blame the closest target. In order to propel herself beyond her childhood trauma, Ophelia has dedicated her life to studying what she believes was the cause - ERS, which is a space-induced form of madness that drives people to murder. The most famous case resulted in the brutal murders of twenty-nine people. An opportunity arises to accompany a small exploration team who have recently lost one of their own, and she takes it, hoping to redeem herself by saving them from further loss. The team is reluctant to have her (an understatement) and Ophelia struggles to fit in. Things only get worse as something - ERS, madness, something else - begins to affect the crew and they turn on each other. Dr. Ophelia Bray takes the idea of a “flawed p

Series Retrospective: The Baby-Sitters Club

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  In April 2024, the graphic novel adaptation of Baby-sitters Club #19 Claudia and the Bad Joke was the #1 kids book in Canada, and that warms my heart. When I was a kid, the Baby-sitters Club (BSC) was my favourite series. My obsession with the books was borderline unhealthy and I spent hours reading and rereading my favourites. I eventually outgrew the series, but it still holds a fond place in my memories, and I love that a new generation is enjoying this wonderful series. The BSC series was published from 1986-2000, consisted of over 200 total books, and sold over 180 million copies. Ann M. Martin wrote about 60-80 of them herself and oversaw a team of ghostwriters who penned the rest. The series is about a group of friends, aged 11-13, who form the titular baby-sitters club after Kristy Thomas (president and founder) watches her mom call the entire neighbourhood one night in search of a baby-sitter. Kristy asked herself “what if people could call just one phone number and get a wh

Stolen: A Letter to my Captor by Lucy Christopher

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 Review originally written in 2014. I was wary of Stolen at first. The premise was of a young teenage girl who gets kidnapped by a handsome stranger and he holds her hostage in the Australian Outback until Stockholm Syndrome starts to sink its teeth into her mind. Too often, I find, stories (esp. young adult) try to sell that stalking=love, and typically with older men and young girls. "He's just SO IN LOVE with her that he can't help but be obsessed with her - isn't that romantic?" That kind of thing bothers me on a fundamental level. So, I entered this book worried. And at first, the book did nothing to soothe those fears. I listened to the book in audio format during a couple of long drives and my solitude as I cruised down road amplified the story in an unpredictable way. The vast majority of the tale is spent with only Gemma and Ty, her kidnapper, alone in the harsh Australian desert. The audio book, which is performed by Emily Gray, I think is the best way t

WILA: Time Travel

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  What I like about... One day, when I was in university, I was lying on my parents’ couch not feeling well and Back to the Future was playing on TV. I had seen the movie as a kid, but dismissed it as a “boy movie”. This was the first time I’d really sat down and watched it as an adult and realized just how good a movie it was. It was charming, exciting, and funny. Soon after I declared it my favourite movie and have been a huge fan ever since. I don’t know if BTTF marks the beginning of my passion for time travel stories, but it’s definitely a key component. But the goofy, enjoyable time travel of BTTF isn’t the only kind I love. Anyone who knows my tastes knows that simply uttering the phrase “it has time travel” piques my interest. But what is it about time travel that I love so much? Today I’m taking a look at one of my favourite story-telling concepts and why it excites me so. Second Chances We have all made mistakes we wish we could go back and fix, or something has happened tha

Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan

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Review originally written and posted to Goodreads on August 12, 2016: I'm sitting here, just having turned off the audio version of this and my head is swimming with thoughts. This is a beautiful story that questions the core essences of humanity, love, religion, and life. Like the protagonist, Ellis Rogers, I went on this journey expecting a classic time travel story and instead encountered something else entirely. Ellis Rogers is tired of his ordinary life. As a brilliant scientist not living up to his potential, he has always dreamed of something bigger, but never managed to achieve it. Instead, he settled. He married the first woman he was with and he clung to the first friend he ever had, even though both of those choices weren't really right for him. Ellis isn't happy. He isn't even really miserable. He just... exists. Then like another scientist living below his potential, Walter White, he is diagnosed with a fatal illness and death becomes the wake