June 2024

Outside The Writer’s Studio

May was a bit of a broken month. Our dearest dog passed away and my husband injured his back. It's been an around the clock rollercoaster and I'm tired. But there have been a few up moments, one of my book chapters was nominated for a National Magazine Award and I won the Indigenous Voices Award for another. June thank goodness look pretty slow on the calendar and I hope will just be some pulling weeds and watching the yard bloom.

I did feel brave (at some point, though I can't remember when...) and sent my newly revised MS around to a few publishers again, so waiting to hear back. And I pulled out some paint and paper and in the dark and exhausted moments just smooth paint around. No plan, just purely for the feeling of it. It's maybe my favourite feeling outside of writing the great sentence. These moments bring me through the weight of times like these.

May your June be glorious and sunny, and I hope you have something that pulls you through dark days.

I am reading:

All Souls by Javier Marías

I am listening to:


May 2024

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Happy May Day! At this point in the year, I'm so happy that the days are flying by. It means allergy season is nearly over! This year has been a doozy, so we should have scoped it out a bit better before moving to a house surrounded by cedars. Ug.

But, we're pushing through, and last month was an epic finish to the school term. I was honoured to be able to design the next cover for the Retrospect History Journal. It will be nice to have a summer off, but I can't entirely give it up, so I have signed up for two short courses in July.

I've been up early working on chapter revisions for my next book. I have also learned how to weave with a rigid heddle, which I love, and made a Tabahon, which is great fun! I've also planted a good bit of the garden and have loads already coming up despite the near-freezing temperatures at night. A few weeks ago I was also finally able to hold the text books I contributed to, and what a dream come true!

I plan to catch up on several writing projects this summer and spend lots of time with my old dog. We hope to get to the beach more and play lots of Pétanque! I'm keen to try cricket; maybe we can find some used gear.

Please follow my social media pages for more fun as it happens~

I am reading:
The Blazing World: A New History of Revolutionary England
by Jonathan Healey

I am listening to:

April 2024

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Happy spring! It's still quite cool here, but our yard is starting to blossom, and it's exciting to see everything! We arrived here near the end of September last year, so most plants were already dying back, so there is much we don't know!

I am in the final throes of the semester with about 5k words left to write. I hope to be finished this week. I've given myself a leeway of a handful of days, so fingers crossed nothing comes up. Afterwards, it's right on to taxes and then preparing for a talk I'm giving to the BC Editors Assoc. That should be interesting because I think they are looking for one thing, but I will surprise them with something probably unexpected, given our conversations so far!

I am feeling pulled to finish the final chapters of my book. I watched American Fiction last week, and I am ready to go through the publishing experience again! This book needs to be out in the world because I have other ones that I want to focus on now. Thankfully, I'll have five solid months to work on it before next term; yay! I'm also looking forward to getting to the last of the unpacking and sorting out a few rooms - at last!

Last month, I received two of the textbooks I wrote for, and wow! That feeling when you have accomplished something you always wanted to do is heart-bursting! Sort of like when I discovered that our yard has a scarlet hawthorn tree, my very favourite tree, one I always said I'd have in my yard one day - and there it is. I am in the perfect spot in my life where everything from here on out is gravy. What an exceptional place to be! I am so grateful every day;-)

Thank you for being on this road with me!

I am reading:

Barking to the Choir
by Gregory Boyle

I am listening to:


March 2024

Outside The Writer’s Studio

As is always the case with me, it seems, when I have some spare time, I fill it. My reading week was filled with two big jobs I took, one for a museum and one for a massive biology text book, but when you are self-employed, you 'get while the gettins good' as they say. It was also a month filled with applications and writing submissions, fulfilling scholarship paperwork, and preparing for tax season. February is a busy little month indeed!

I had one piece published here, and attended a very hectic three day conference. And as conferences are - it was brilliant and exhausting, but I’m so happy I persevered. I also managed to squeeze in a couple of illustrations for the next issue of the Retrospect History Journal and will post once it's available. I love being able to keep my art relevant alongside my school and written work. I am so fortunate!

We're having fun planning the garden here at the new house and I already have loads of seedlings to plant out, but with our pending little snowstorms, I'll keep them under the lights a bit longer. This month ahead will be head down in school work as I write two papers, and I'll find out if I'm delivering one at this conference soon. They're reading the Abstracts this week. Fingers crossed!

I hope you have a happy spring!

I am reading:

Essays and book chapters.

I am listing to:

February 2024

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Happy Feast of St. Brigid! Well, that month flew past! Aside from having a bad tooth out, I had such fun at a book club chat for Yukon Libraries! You can check out my interview leading up to it here.

School is back in full swing, and in and around that, I am preparing two journal articles; one will be out in August, and I am not sure about the other, but I will link them both here when they’re published. I’ve also accepted an Illustrator role for the University’s History Journal Retrospect! It’s going to be a lot of fun!

I also have two other projects coming up. One is a book project (not my own) that is very special to me, more on that soon, and the other is a museum job, working on one of their publications. Also super exciting! And now that I’m finally on the mend from my tooth, which was honestly one of the most painful things ever, I am starting to look at seed catalogues and make some plans for the yard - one word - sunflowers!

I hope February treats you well. We’re hoping for some more seasonal temps this coming week, and I’m looking forward to having it a bit cooler! I miss my sweaters!;-)

I am reading:

Research Is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods
by Shawn Wilson

Medical Anthropology: A Biocultural Approach 
by Andrea S. Wiley & John S. Allen 

I am listening to:

The waterfall out back;-)

January 2024

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Happy New Year! Gosh, this one has been a whirlwind for us! As great as it was, I'm always glad to be moving forward, ..."to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations,
to boldly go..." oh wait, that's something else lol, but it's accurate!           

The tail end of this year saw an Award of Merit at the Canada Shorts - Canadian & International Short Film Festival for my short film: What the Dirt Don't Like, and a short NF story accepted into the Chapter House Journal at the Institute of American Indian Arts. I am so grateful! (I will come back and link when it's available).

I have one big project this year that I'm very excited about, and honoured to be working on, and aside from school, I have no other plans yet. It would be nice to finish another book, but we'll see. I have a few more chapters to write on my main book project before I send it out again, but I might put that on a back burner while I complete a new screenplay and work on my other book projects.

I'm leaving myself open with no goals or expectations as I focus on school and removing the brambles from around the pond. I have the entire summer off this year, which right now shines like a blinding light I can't even look at, you know I like to be busy! But it's still some months away, and now, lots of space for something to emerge.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy, and thoughtful, best ever new year!

I am reading:

Songlines: The Power and Promise
By: Lynne Kelly, Margo Neale

I am listening to:

December 2023

Outside The Writer’s Studio

And just like that, another year has rolled by! My school term has nearly ended, and I'm just revising. One thousand more good words to go!

After that, I will finish unpacking, only three months late! But I think better late than never, which has been the theme of my week. On Wednesday, I presented a paper to the History Society, which will be coming out in the School's History Journal, Retrospect (I'll come back and link when it's available). I spoke about our Invisible Indigenous Veterans and their Residential School beginnings. Afterwards, people said, "Thank you so much; we didn't know any of that!" as always, I was shocked and pleased by that response. I hope they'll ask me back; I would love to continue using that platform to open more eyes to our History—file under Better late than never.

Once my final paper is complete, I should be hearing back about a few things, and I will give one talk to a writing school closer to the end of the month. I'm excited about Christmas in our new digs and can't wait to have time to make and send some cards around. I've also been checking out the local arts scene and joined one of the groups; we've certainly moved to the right place!

This is a small update for the end of the year as my head is sitting in a 17th-century coffee house, and I'm reading medical advertisements on the back pages of the Old Bailey Proceedings. The new year is going to be brilliant, and I can't wait to write my January update with, I hope, some amazing news;-)

Happy Holidays, and as always, stay safe. Thank you for being on this wacky journey with me!

I am Reading:

The Old Bailey Proceedings

I am Listening to: 

and this:

and of course:

November 2023

Outside The Writer’s Studio

We are so close to Christmas! Even though my shopping is complete, which tells me it’s true, I can’t get my mind around it. That also means I’m nearly finished with the first Edinburgh term. Time flies when you spend half a year moving!

I don’t have anything scheduled for November in terms of workshops or seminars, but I do have one booked for next month and another in the Yukon in January, which I’m excited about. I’m not expecting any changes, but if something comes up, I will post it on my schedule here.

This month, I have a piece coming out in a book by The League of Canadian Poets, which I will link to next month. It always feels extra special to be seen as a poet, as that was the first genre I wrote in when I was around six years old. Believe it or not, that time flew by, and I can still recall the joy of sitting with my little pad of paper and pencil, scribbling out my words.

I also had a piece out in the 10th Anniversary Issue of Destinations, which is the Journal of the Society for One-Place Studies. Being published in another country also makes me feel grateful to be part of such an incredible group of historians and writers.

As the nights grow longer, I expect to do much more writing now that we’re settled; my brain is fairly bursting with ideas. Come on, winter, let’s do this!

I am reading:

History and Material Culture
Ed. Karen Harvey

To be Insert in the Mercury': Medical Practitioners and the Press in Eighteenth-Century Edinburgh
By Helen M Dingwall

I am listening to:

October 2023

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Welcome to October! This month is the beginning of my favourite season (I say that about every season when it starts), but I do like autumn best. It also sees the start of many Birthdays, including my own, which this year is a big one, making me pause to reflect. I’ve certainly come a long way from a ten-year-old scribbling stories into pastel-coloured sheets of paper and coveting every book on her bookshelf: Gulliver’s Travels, Charlotte’s Web and my mother’s old storybook, something like a story a day for a year. Now, my speaking engagements are booked far in advance. I write many different things that people read and mentor other writers on their journies. I had no idea how rewarding the life of a writer could be. This is in huge part to the writing mentors I have had, chiefly among them Stella Harvey, herself a brilliant writer, who took me on as a student in The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University and helped shape me into who I am today. But her mentoring didn't end there; she continues to be my cheerleader and is always there for me in anything I ask, and I cannot begin to tell you the value of having a person like that in your life. A heartfelt and huge thank you, Stella, for everything you do for people like me!

Since last I wrote we have moved house. Not a tiny move, but a big move to another place entirely, one only accessible by ferry boat, and we are in love. The ravens greeted us, and cedars surround us. We have a resident pear tree complete with a resident bear, and the people are calm and cheerful. Our house is rather grand and feels palatial after our last two homes, and we’re rich with space inside and out. The best part is our proximity to the ocean, precisely what we wished for, just a few minutes down the road to a deserted beach. We thought maybe we were in heaven, which gave me an excellent idea for a story - watch for it soon!

I fell behind at school quickly without the internet for 8 days, but I have almost caught up to the point where I can watch cricket guilt-free. The work is hard, but I am getting back into it. It feels like a long time since school let out, but it’s only been a few months. I do thrive on a challenge, so I hope to do okay.

Please follow me on my social media for photos, art and updates where we can chat and  you can see me blather on about writing and life. And I hope you enjoy your fall; it looks like a warm start, but hopefully, by the time it cools, I can find where I’ve packed my sweaters.

I am reading:

Henry Drummond, Baxter's Second Innings - Specially Reported for the School Team (1892)

C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy (1955)

And another million books and articles on cricket.

I am listening to:

September 2023

Outside The Writer’s Studio

The season is changing, and we are playing a big part in the change this year! We’re moving house on the 16th, to a new town. It’s very exciting, and was time, as our tiny house was bursting at the seams. The choice of place was not random, we felt it had everything we were looking for: more nature, less noise.

We’re looking forward to more roomy adventures, interesting creative pursuits and lots of beach time. It will make up for how hard this move has been! We are quiet and solitary people, so this experience has been shocking at times, with loads of people tramping through the house on short notice.

At the same time we’re transitioning to our new home; I’ll be starting at the University of Edinburgh. I’ve been preparing as best I can for my two-year stint since May, and I think it will pay off with a more relaxed month. It already seems less intense than Oxford, so that was a good warm-up for me!

I’m also working on applications for a project I hope to get funding for, and I'm already feeling the pull to write more chapters for my book. The new house feels like a really creative space, and I’m looking forward to the cosy writing winter ahead.

I have a little film sitting near completion, I’m still awaiting word on music licensing. I have so many ideas for the next one; it’s just about finding the moments to begin this larger piece. I’m slowly collecting bits for it and am so pleased with some archival stuff I’ve found. It’s exciting!

I’ve been booking talks into next spring and will update my website once I have more details.  Stay tuned!

Signing off from North Vancouver; see you next time from the Sunshine Coast !

I am reading:

Skirting the Boundary: The History of Women’s Cricket
by Isabelle Duncan

A Social History of English Cricket
by Sir Derek Birley

I am listening to:

August 2023

Outside The Writer’s Studio

August is here, and change is in the air! The sun hangs low in the mornings, and we hope to move in 6 weeks. We're ready for a change as we move into a slower - beachier time of life. The ocean calls!

I've spent the last week setting up all my accounts for Edinburgh, and I'm set. I've already been on my reading list as I plan to be ahead of the game when the moving week comes at the same time as the start of school. One giant relief was the receipt of a scholarship. I am so grateful that I can focus on my studies and not how to pay for them; if my grandfather could see me now, I always think, espcially now as I graduate Oxford with Distinction.

Last month I had a haiku published in a haiku newsletter, The Solitary Daisy. I love writing haiku, and I'm still trying to figure out why I don't write more. They feel like an indulgent sweet available only at certain celebrations, and maybe that's a good way to keep it.

I was accepted into a film program a few weeks ago but had to drop it because of the move. It felt too congested this fall on top of the other events I'm doing, plus school. But I hope to be asked back next time it's run! My short film What the Dirt Don’t Like was also accepted into two more festivals, details soon!

My friend Heige and I also presented a talk you can watch here. It was fascinating and brought up more questions and ideas on our end, so we'll continue the conversation in a podcast before the end of the year.

Last month I received a kind book rejection that  filled me with hope as they gave precise feedback, so I hope once we're settled into the new house (or settled back in here!) I can pull it out and begin revisions; I've already started making notes for new chapters. Our hopeful new home looks like an exact copy of the Walton's house in the TV show, and my dormer window will sit where Jon Boy's was, and it feels like a powerful writing place for me. Earl Hamner's story resonated with me throughout my youth, giving me an immediate connection with the house. It feels full of writing potential.

Enjoy these waning days of summer!

I am reading: 

History Beyond the Text: A Student’s Guide to Approaching Alternative Sources
by Sarah Barber (Editor), Corinna Peniston-Bird (Editor)

Memory and History: Understanding Memory as Source and Subject
by Joan Tumblety

The Crusades: A Very Short Introduction
by Christopher Tyerman

Understanding Medieval Primary Sources: Using Historical Sources to Discover Medieval Europe
by Joel T. Rosenthal

I am listening to:

July 2023

Outside The Writer’s Studio

The end of my fantastic year at Oxford and the start of my summer vacation came in quietly but grew to a bang as we decided to move house. The decision was made quickly, but all signs pushed us to do it, especially the impending construction on the property next door, which began with a backhoe through our water main. There are some signs you can’t ignore. Another was last night when a group of drunk teens vandalized some of our things in broad daylight (while we were standing not ten feet away). It was shocking. 

But I won’t let my lousy mood dictate my blog this morning because we are all healthy and well, and the sun will shine in the window at any moment!

This month sees the start of my monthly speaking engagements across the country, and here is the first, a discussion with my friend Heige. Whenever we get together, we talk so much about ‘reconciliation’, what that means, and how it looks for different places and populations. Heige will bring the German perspective, and I find it so interesting! We can learn so much from the past and other people and places; I hope you’ll join us if you are interested.

Aside from packing and moving, I’ll also be starting on my reading list for Edinburgh this fall and finishing up a series of crow paintings, so we’ll not forget our corvid pal Schwartz who visits every day. I’m also finishing up a short film and just waiting for word on music licencing. GEMS Vancouver spotlighted me along with some of the other amazingly talented women I studied screenwriting with last year, please check them out here! So much goodness to come!

I’ve also started some Ai experiments with my art and am really enjoying the process of creative writing with the immediate gratification of an artistic outcome. If nothing else, it makes for interesting story prompts!

I hope wherever you are; you can enjoy a bit of summer; it will be a hot one here in Western Canada, so keep cool and drink water:-)

I am reading:

Crusades : A Very Short Introduction
by Christopher Tyerman

I am listening to:

June 2023

Outside The Writer’s Studio

The garden is alive! And so is my brain. I'm currently writing my final paper and so a number of 'other' projects have sprung up, a quilt and a film and various other writing bits that squeeze themselves out when I'm spilling my thesis onto the page; 'scuse me, scuse me' they say as they slip through that narrow doorway with a group of Tudor women.

The biggest news item last month, was of course, the premier of Killers of the Flower Moon at Cannes, and which I am now allowed to say that I have a small part of, in that I helped David Grann (the author) revise the book for its next printing. Whew, I had to hold that in for a year!

Even though I'll technically have the summer 'off', I'm already planning for Edinburgh in September and still working on submissions and grant applications. Another publisher has asked to see my MS so that's hopeful as well. I should be hearing about a few things this month and am hoping for a healthy garden and greenhouse. Unfortunately, we have already noticed rodent activity; rats, squirrels, and mice, now that we are down one Rat Terrier. I may have solved the problem with a bit of old mosquito netting though, fingers crossed. On the plus side we have invited crows into the yard with our new bird bath, so, as it sits beside the greenhouse, that will probably help as well. They love to hang out there.

And of course, today is Census Day and I'll be deep into it by the time you are reading this:-)

Have a great month!

I am Reading:

Medical Conflicts in Early Modern London: Patronage, Physicians, and Irregular Practitioners 1550-1640.
By Pelling and White

I am Listening to:

May 2023

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Spring is always a bit late on the mountain, but the cherry blossoms finally appeared this week. It was a bittersweet month as we lost a family member, but life continues, just a little more slowly and sadly.

Last month my short film premiered at the VISFilm Fest, and it was a blast! I can't wait to make more films and have loads of ideas. I had a table read of one of my screenplays with a group of actors, and it was so surreal; what a feeling to have your work come to life! I want more of that. But...I have a final paper due, and my head is already back in Tudor times.

I have a piece coming out in the Bodleian Libraries Student Writing Competition Zine this term; I'll link when it's published, and I have a reprint of a short story coming out in subTerrain Lit mag this spring, just in case you missed it the first time around!

I've finished all my painting commissions and have some happy customers, and I have a bit of editing work to complete now before my month of committee meetings.

There's a lot of pomp going on in England right now, and the students and staff at Oxford have been invited to some of it. It's an exciting time in history right now.

Along with meetings, work, and school, any spare time I have this month will be about applications for scholarships for school in Edinburgh this fall.
I should also be hearing back about some other grants and project submissions. As my greenhouse shows me, May is a key month in many ways. It tells me if a crop will be good or bad, ravaged by bugs or disease or calm and happy. As with all else, time will tell!

I am reading:

Medical Conflicts in Early Modern London: Patronage, Physicians, and Irregular Practitioners 1550-1640.
By Pelling and White

I am listeing to:

April 2023

Outside The Writer’s Studio

As expected last month flew by. I was successful with some applications and submissions and not with others,  - this is the way - ;-). My short film What the Dirt Don’t Like will be screened at the Vancouver Island Short Film Festival on April 21st, and my screenplay The Set Up will have a table read on April 8th. Having actors read your words certainly adds a surreal dimension to your work!

I received another scholarship for Oxford and a painting commission for a really special project, as I finished up two others. I have a couple of pieces coming out in Lit journals this month and a fun radio interview for the film (I’ll come back and link to them when I have the information), and I’ve been invited to speak at the Victoria Festival of Authors this fall.

Last month was full of meetings from Vestry to all the committees I’m part of, but this month will be quieter as I get my head down and work on a large project for school. Only one more to go after that!

Happy Spring!

I have created this:

(...and this is my Instagram page where I post all my work as I complete it.)

I am reading:

So many case files!

Wet Felting: Creating texture, Pattern and Structure By Smart, Natasha

I am listening to:

March 2023

Outside The Writer’s Studio

I’m unsure if we’re in like a lion or a lamb today with a pending snowstorm; I guess it will be another bit of ‘wait and see’, which is what I am doing right now for several projects, including some screenwriting funding as well as one other project I’m waiting to hear about.

This past month has been a blur with a term break where I thought I would get a lot done but ended up nursing a very sickly dog (who is on the mend now, yay!). It’s frustrating, but then being able to prioritize the important things is what gets me through, and the people and animals in my life come above all else, even writing, art and school. Thankfully if I relax into it and find balance, equilibrium prevails.

I’ll be starting at the University of Edinburgh in the fall, and once again, I am so grateful for this opportunity. Oxford has given me the headstart I needed, and the history book I long to write is coming into focus.

I have several written pieces this spring (see last month’s update), and I’m truly honoured to be judging a children’s art contest and doing some work for Penguin/RH. I’ve been booking book talks into 2024 and am finally learning Procreate! It will be a fun and gently busy month. Happy Spring!

I am reading:

Knots and Crosses 
by Ian Rankin

I am listening to:

February 2023

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Gosh, January went by in a flash! There were lots of good bits and not-so-good bits, but that's a writer's life. After a string of rejections (that always seem to come within days of each other), I received some great news: my comic will be published by one of my school magazines this term (HT23) (check that off my bucket list!), and I have a piece coming out in the Good life Review in April.

This month will see the results of last fall's applications for grants and screenwriting program submissions, and I'll be happy with whatever happens. Something about me loves the excitement of waiting; it's like getting the post or waiting for Christmas morning. I am five.

School is fantastic, and I just received my first, first! I've also joined another committee: The Committee on Library Provision, Bodleian Libraries, and I'm so excited about that!

In the past two weeks, I have entered my new short film into two competitions, one local and one international, and it will be spring before I hear about the results, so more fun waiting. I was also recently gifted new art supplies, so I am back to painting and drawing daily, and one of my goals for the year is to spin all my wool stash.

We're also getting serious about food sustainability; and after our first greenhouse year, we've learned so much! We were gifted a grow light for Christmas and already have edible-sized lettuce as well. I can't wait to plant some seeds, as I think we're going to have a proper mild spring this year. Hmm planting seeds, and waiting for crops, sounds familiar.

I am Reading

Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse
by David Mitchell

English Society in the 18th Century: Second Edition
by Roy Porter

I’m listening to:

January 2023

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Happy New Year!

While I always try to look ahead, this year, it's impossible not to tally the past year's events, especially when the loss of friends and family has stood so prominently at the forefront. All will be so missed.

There have been many greats, too; seeing my past students win awards and be newly published is top of the list. Well done, everybody!

Oxford is also up there, and as I move into Hilary Term, I feel so grateful for my achievements, primarily as I work on book revisions, and I can measure the distance from my beginnings to now.

Writing will be moving back into my life as I am more comfortable with my school schedule, so I will continue to work on my little TV series and my book revisions. I should have a lot of responses in the coming months to applications and submissions that will help to provide focus as I move forward.

It will be an exciting year ahead, and I can't wait to share some news I've kept under my hat for more than a year; there are only a few more months to go!

All the very best to you in 2023! Look how far we've come! I think we've outlived every old sci-fi movie date;-)

I’m reading:

The Difference
by Marina Endicott

I’m listening to:

December 2022

Outside The Writer’s Studio

It's the end of term, and I'm pleased with the results. It took lots of hard work and tedious scheduling, but it paid off, and I'm looking forward to my Dept.'s Christmas party on the 15th! I'm heavily into planning school for 2023/24 and beyond, and I think I'll stay for studies in the UK if I can.

I've not written much this month, but I have an idea brewing for a short story. I have sent a piece of flash to Isis magazine and hope to be a member of their Art Team for Hilary Term. I've also applied to be on the Department's Bodleian Library Committee for the following two terms. My work with the ISC is ongoing well, and we're working on a new publication. I'm so glad I joined them; apparently, it's where the Canadians hang out!

As usual, I am awaiting word of a few grants that will help see me through my writing and screenplay work in 2023. I think I'll know this month and early next year. Never hold my breath, but they would be helpful.

This month I plan to get ahead on my reading and the following paper and prepare for my final paper next summer. The term break is a massive gift of time to work on all these things, and I'm so grateful!

I wish you Happy Holidays
and all the very best in the New Year!

And as always, thank you for visiting me here!

I am reading:
Population Studies and statistics, nothing novel-ly at he moment.

I am listening to my favourite:

November 2022

Outside The Writer’s Studio

I can hardly believe it's coming to the end of the year! But I don't even have time to stop and wonder about it as I'm settled into my school routine and can't stop for one second. I've been named the Student Staff Rep. for my Dept. and am also in the International Student Society (awaiting my role), a member of a DisCam Family and in the Harry Potter Society, of course. I am squeezing all I can out of this Oxford year and want to experience everything! But as rushed as I am, my weekday always includes some meditation time with the Oxford Mindfulness Foundation daily meditation, where I sit in mindfulness for 30 minutes with 100 others around the globe.

As is usually the case when I'm so busy, words creep out of me in my dreams, in the bath and the greenhouse. Basically, everywhere I don't happen to have a pencil with me, so if you see a blur, it is me running because I've had an idea and have to write it down before it's gone. Some of these thoughts have come in the form of poems, and I'm eight pages into a little poetry book project where I have accompanied my odd haiku with a painting or photograph. This little book is making me so happy!

I've submitted to a few flash publications this past month and even finished a few paintings, some cedar work and a sweater!

I had a piece of flash reprinted here and will be teaching a workshop in a few weeks on revision.

My last screenwriting class was this past Saturday, and I'm sad it's over; I have learned so much and am so grateful to my teachers! What an experience! I've completed two screenplays and have a dozen new and massively talented friends:-) We've been together since June, and it will be strange not spending Saturday mornings with them!

Stay warm, and thank you for reading!

I am reading:

The Pursuit of History

by John Tosh

...and half the Bodleian Library

I am listening to:

Alex Highton's older works from an album I produced a million years ago.

October 2022

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Today I jumped out of bed after sleeping late and wrote down the outline for the last chapter of my greenhouse book. I'm so happy, but it felt like a struggle to get to the right words. I always have to remind myself that even after a lifetime of writing, I need to trust the process and know the words will always come sooner or later.

September was a blur. I caught COVID the week before Michaelmas term started, so I feel like I've been playing catch up ever since. I'm already behind in my readings, but I hope to regain ground this weekend. I love reading in the fall beside the fire but will need to force myself into a different pattern now, as we expect hot and sunny weather for the entire month.

I've purposefully kept my schedule quiet this winter so I can focus on school, which is brilliant! I have a few things submitted that I'm waiting to hear back about, four books and one contest. I'm also judging a competition and need to prep for a workshop I'm teaching at the end of November.  

I wish you a happy autumn!

I am reading:

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

By Christopher Moore

Loads of history books and 2k pages of notes.

(My Bodleian Library card is taking me to places I would never have imagined!)

I am listening to:

September 2022

Outside The Writer’s Studio

I’m so excited to begin school at the end of the month! I have loved this feeling since childhood and am so fortunate that I can continue to have it as an adult! I loved school so much, all the learning and reading, sort of hard to believe if you read my next book! And speaking of my next book, I’m in the process of shopping it, so more waiting. I have three manuscripts at different publishers, hoping to get a bite.

My greenhouse is coming to the end of its season, so I can take my year of notes and start formatting them into the book I’ve dreamt up. I’ve also been taking loads of photos, so I’ll have lots of material to use for the illustrations. I’m thinking watercolour.

This month I wrote my last article in my two-year stint as writer in residence at the BC History Magazine. (Watch for it in the winter issue). It was bittersweet; I’ve had such a fantastic experience there! But it also feels good to be moving forward into the formal study of history. I want to write about it in a better way.

My screenplay course picks up again this month, and I’ve done so much revision on my little short, and I’m pleased with it. I look forward to the next six weeks of class and hope this project will make it to the screen one day so you can watch it.

Enjoy the beginning of fall!

I am reading:

Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God
by Joe Coomer

In Praise of Shadows
by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki

and about 500 kilos of history books!

I am listening to:


August 2022

Outside The Writer’s Studio

I've been head down most of the summer, and I can't believe how fast time has flown. A small part of me can't comprehend that we're marching into the end of the year! It's the same part of me saying, "I can't believe I just wrote a screenplay!" but we are, and I did. It took me weeks of learning how to write in a new way, but draft one is done, and so is my book.

This month begins full of gratitude to the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, who have gifted me their Scholarship, which will cover my school year at Oxford. It's a fantastic feeling when people put their faith in you, pushing me harder to succeed. I feel held up and am humbled by the gift.

This month will consist of editing and starting the next screenplay in the series, beginning edits on my book and trying to get through my vast reading list before school starts at the end of September. I will also be finishing up a big project for a textbook publisher, which entails adding Indigenous content to a nutrition text; it’s been a satisfying and meaningful project!

Happy August, keep cool!

I am reading: My list is too huge to share, but here are some essential books by my tutors to get me started -

Crime, Courts and Community in Mid-Victorian Wales: Montgomeryshire, People and Places by R. Jones

Baal’s Priests: The Loyalist Clergy and the English Revolution 
by F. McCall

Ledbury: A Market Town and its Heritage and Ledbury: Parish and People before the Reformation 
by S. Pinches

The Political Worlds of Women: Gender and Politics in Nineteenth Century Britain
by S. Richardson

I am listening to: 


July 2022

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Well, although I didn’t win the Indigenous Voices Award, I met some fantastic people during the process, and as a direct result, my manuscript is being looked at by a fancy agent! She asked for an exclusive peek, so I’m hoping for good news, and if she doesn’t take it, I have a plan B which I am also super excited about, so it’s all good!

Last month I was also awarded a spot in the prestigious National Women in Film and Television Tricksters and Writers Screenwriting Program and am going into week 4 of that. What an eye-opener. It’s another world, and I love being in it! It’s helping with my everyday writing and providing a different, clear perspective. It suits my style, plus meeting so many fab, like-minded people is a bonus, and talking about TV and movies for 2 hours on Saturday mornings suits me fine! (Although trying to balance all this fun with reading all the history books I need to consume before September is a bit daunting;-)

I’m working on the last chapter of my book and plowed through last month. It wasn’t work ethic but rather a way to soften the grief as we lost our youngest dog to a brain tumour. I’m so thankful that my life revolves around deeply experiencing and writing about everything. It’s part of the way I can process the word and is a comfort in times like these.

My other project, the book about the greenhouse is coming along, and I find I have something to add daily, so it never feels like a chore to write. There is always something new and accessible. (And the greenhouse project itself is going gangbusters!).

I hope you have a comfortable month ahead, keep writing, and if you need a break, read something fun!

I am reading:

The Dreaded Curse: Screenplay Formatting
by Kat Montagu


Writing Local History
by John Beckett

I am listening to:

Spank Williams


June 2022

Outside The Writer’s Studio

So many happy things to report! This month I was shortlisted for an Indigenous Voices Award here, which is a tremendous honour, and I consider it a win! The Gala is on June 21st, and I hope you'll watch it with me!

On Monday, I had a manuscript consultation with one of my lit heroes Evelyn Lau. Talking to somebody who has a similar lived experience is extraordinary. It was maybe the best 80 minutes I've ever had. My brain was so lit up afterwards.

I also learned that I'll be teaching a poetry workshop at Massy at the end of the month here, and it's now open for registration!

Although I didn't get the Residency I applied for, this morning, I did wake up to this:

"Our admissions round is extremely competitive, and we would like to congratulate you most warmly on your success. This offer constitutes your formal offer of a place at the University of Oxford, and when you accept it you will enter into a contract with the University."!!!

So this will be my next year, and I can focus on school and writing, my two very favourite things:-) I am indeed blessed.

Also, I have not killed anything else in the greenhouse, so I am pretty happy about that! But I still have no expectations, so we'll see what happens now that the weather is warming:-) It is all making for excellent writing!

I am reading:

The Oxford Student Handbook

The Art of the Graphic Memoir
by Tom Hart

I am listening to:

and an old favourite,

May 2022

Outside The Writer’s Studio

At last! May is the month I’ve been waiting for, mostly impatiently. There will be some big changes coming in my work/writing life and our physical living space. And I should state right now, that even though the outcomes might not be what I want, I will learn from everything that happens, so it will all be positive:-)

I’ve just finished a big job for Penguin/Random USA and received such kind feedback that I’ve been walking on clouds all week. Plus, our greenhouse is doing so well, despite the snow we had just two weeks ago! It’s giving me plenty to write about, and lots of time to reflect, as I sing to my little green things.

I’ve been steadily writing every day and even though writing two books concurrently is a bit of a jumble, when I get my ideas they are very clearly delineated, so that makes it a lot easier, and each seems to spur the other on, thank goodness for that! 

I am more and more interested in graphic storytelling, and I feel like that might happen in my future, these courses with Tom Hart are looking quite yum!

And finally, after a lot of publisher silence, I sent Ravens out again his time to an Indigenous publisher. After re-reading it I realize that I’m becoming a better writer, I made so many changes before I sent it out, those kinds of things where you say “how could I not have seen that?”, it was heartening! I have a few other things going out this month, I’ve been waiting for submissions to open. I also have three articles coming due for various magazines; I’ve gotten some ideas down, just need to sit and do the work.

I’ve also been thinking about school again, and will probably go back this fall if I don’t get the residency I applied for. I have a meeting with faculty coming up next week to have a chat about it, and at the end of the month, a manuscript consult with the amazing Evelyn Lau. I’ve been wanting to be in touch with her for the past few years, she has felt like such a kindred spirit, and I could never find out how, and then suddenly there she was! It’s funny how things get in front of you when they need to, it’s all about timing. Everything.

I am reading:

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI 
by David Grann

The Millennium Trilogy
by  Stieg Larsson

I am listening to:

My friend Melissa Endean’s latest work

and Amyl and The Sniffers


And on repeat these amazing youth

April 2022

Outside The Writer’s Studio

I feel like a kid at Christmas, crossing days off the calendar and waiting for things to happen; hearing back about awards and residency applications, jobs and waiting for my remaining seeds to show those beautiful little green sprouts. But, I’m an adult now, I tell myself firmly, have a little patience!

Of course, if you have kids, you know THAT doesn’t work, so instead, I’ve been learning how to paint with watercolour, which is forcing me into patience mode!

I also tell myself that even though it's ‘only’ April, there are already measurable fruits of my labours, and in the greenhouse, we have some microgreens ready to eat! And out in the world, I have a newly published piece ready to share in the Anglican Journal here. It’s a piece written about an undiscovered time in my life when I was working 24 hours a day. That time is a blur, so I’m really happy that some of these special moments are bubbling their way to the top of my brain and spilling out onto the page.

Thanks to the Indigenous Editors Association I’ve also been doing some really interesting work in places I never expected, last week it was a job for the Royal Society of Chemistry, which was quite a proud moment for me. Another proud moment came when I was an honoree at the Simon Fraser University’s Author’s Reception. I don’t usually attend awards things or graduations, but I did attend this because I am very proud of my recent book People Like Frank and other Stories from the Edge of Normal, and I shared some happy tears with the other authors.

Now April is here and I have a list of half a dozen pending writing projects, interviews and articles to write, and I have the addition of my twice (or more!) daily trips to the greenhouse to check on all my green children. It's a wonderful life!

I am reading:

Run Towards the Danger 
by Sarah Polley

I am listening to:

Mostly just the birds in my garden:-)

March 2022

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Back in September, I felt so burnt out from my two years of book writing/revising and PR that I decided to take off December- March to relax and focus on writing. Of course, as is the way in my life, when I clear some stuff out, it makes room for other things to come in, a phenomena Marie Kondo fails to mention! So, I ended up being very busy, but it was different busy, so I won’t complain.

March is the beginning of my back-to-work period, and that starts on the 9th with a free for everybody class on How To Be Writer at the North Vancouver District Library. It’s all online, and you can register here, from anywhere in the world!

I’ve entered the CBC non-fiction contest this year and the Indigenous Voices Awards again and tried for another Residency for the fall. I’m confident in everything, but now I’ll try hard to put them out of my mind as there are some months to wait.

I’m working simultaneously on a few different projects and am in the flow of my daily writing practice, but house repairs are looming, seeds need planting in the greenhouse, and articles need to be to written. Back to deadlines! I was fortunate though, to have had a great response from the editor of the Anglican Journal on a bit of piece I sent in, and it will be out in April, and he has asked for more, so that’s exciting and new!

On the 15th, I’ll be in attendance at the SFU Celebration of Authors Reception which is online this year; yay! But for now, I’m off to look at my March seed planting calendar and find my antihistamines - achoo! Stay tuned - there is much more in the works! 

Happy Spring, I hope your allergies don’t hold you back!

I am reading:

Loose End
by Ivan Coyote

I am, I am, I am: Seventeen Brushes with Death
By Maggie O’Farrell

Greenhouse Gardener's Companion
by Shane Smith

I am listening to:

February 2022

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Sometime between 5 and 6 am, I wake up and start writing. The gift of this habit was given to me by my mentor Stella Harvey and I cherish it!

Today, even though I’m still up early, I’m taking a day off, well earned I feel, after a two-month stint of writing and editing a book chapter for an award submission. (If you want to read more about how this process looks for me, check out this post).

During this period I decided that 2022 will be another ‘big year of writing' for me as I’m focusing on two concrete projects; and as it was in 2020, my goal will be a publishing deal. The difference between last year (where I had ‘hoped’ for a book deal in 2021) and this year, will be the amount of work I’ll put into the projects. Although last year I wrote a ton of words, my plans were too vague, I see now, and I was trying to change things around to fit certain publishers, at their request - those who in the end said ‘no thank you’, and I was left sitting here thinking, ‘but I did this for you?’.

Now, I’m back writing for myself. And I love it. I can pour myself into it. I always said I would be happy digging ditches (apparently they still did that when I was small), and I love farm work and any sort of work where I can use my mind and my body. So here we go, this year my mind is on writing and my body will be in the new greenhouse and let’s see where that takes us!

I am reading:

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood
by Fred Rogers

I Am, I Am, I Am, Seventeen Brushes with Death
by Maggie O’Farrell

Rick Mercer, Talking to Canadians
by Rick Mercer

I am listening to:

Lucinda Williams

January 2022

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Happy New Year!

So far 2022 is great despite the leaking roof!

Even though I received just a MASSIVE number of rejections last year, I am so eager to get back to work on all my writing projects to see what will emerge.

Last year I wished for a publishing deal, I felt I needed to have one every year to stay relevant. So, I put in many hours of work, but when I look back now I see that my writing wasn't good enough, not by a long shot, and it humbled me.

I would like to thank the publishers that took the time to consider my writing in 2021. And a huge thank you to all of the people, especially in my writing group, who took the time to give me feedback on my work.

This year will be mainly spent in the greenhouse, making house repairs, writing, painting, and teaching (Please visit my website as many of my engagements will be open to the public starting in March!).

For you my friends I wish you peace and joy and health and all the good things!

Keep writing!

I am reading:

by David Arnold

The Cuckoo's Calling
by Robert Galbraith

I am listening to:


Tove Styrke

December 2021

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Well, would you look at that, it’s December again!

Another year of writing and book PR is nearly done and dusted, and now I’m moving into a few months of hibernation and deep writing.

This year I have received an epic number of rejections, but I have also sent out a huge number of pieces, which is a good thing. I felt some huge disappointment that my new book has not been picked up yet, so I am at that ‘it’s not you, it’s me stage’ where I might decide to shelve the ms for a while and change my focus. The poor old thing is tired and after 40 years of rewrites and travels, maybe it also needs a period of sleep. The only thing that keeps me going with this book is the fact that portions of it are continuously being published and other bits continue to win awards. So I know it is worthy.

Also on my rejections list were a number of residencies, but for that I understand, I feel that I am not actually old enough yet to maybe provide the insight required, so I can wait! I still have a few more things to hear back about before the end of the year and into January.

On the flip side, because there is always one, I am transformed from my time at the Banff Centre, there is no other way to say it. I am so deeply grateful for the opportunity, my words cannot even express it yet, but I know that it will be shown in everything I do and every step I take from this point forward.

One of the other high points of the year has been the huge number of interviews and speaking engagements I have had. The people I have met have just been so kind and welcoming and oh gosh, I just love sharing what I have learned about art and writing and life, every single opportunity has been such a huge honour for me!

I know I am probably forgetting a million little flickers of light that saw me through the year, but I will tell you the banger at the end of it all was an invitation to read for Penguin/Random House USA, and I am working on my first ms for Knopf. While it is not writing per se, it is in the biz and I am helping other writers which is definitely up my alley!

I am so looking forward to seeing what adventures next year brings, I have so many ideas and am working on a few different things. I continue to be Writer in Residence at the BC History Magazine for 2022, so please visit me there and watch my website for upcoming dates, right now I have a few things already booked for March which will be open to the public.

I’m not sure if I will continue on at Harvard next year, it is an intense schedule and right now I feel like puttering in the greenhouse and writing, but the amazing students and teachers always pull me back in, so we’ll see:-)

The creative life is like the swing of the pendulum, and I just have to keep remembering the joy of the swing and the wind in my face, because that’s what it’s all about.

I wish you all a very happy holiday season, I hope the darkness takes you to your page and that great things happen there, to your characters, and to you!

Until next year, keep writing!

This month I am reading:

Norwegian Wood
by Haruki Murakami

Fight Night
by Miriam Toews

Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice
by Brunetti, Ivan

Oh and I joined a choir! So am learning our piece and have this on repeat:

November 2021

Outside The Writer’s Studio

My social media posts in November usually start off with; "Up early, writing". I have grown to love the dark mornings of silence, with just my keyboard clacking away. It takes me back to the days of sitting at my donated kitchen table with my giant green donated electric typewriter with my ream of donated paper, and all I can do is be so grateful for where I am today and thankful to the people who helped get me here.

I think of this because I have had so many rejections this year that the wind of them threw me off kilter for a bit, but I've righted the spinning top and I'm back at it, getting up and doing the work. I know it's all for the best and when I look back in a few years I am 100% positive that I will say 'whew', glad that didn't happen!

So, as my mentor Stella Harvey always says, 'Onward!'.

This week I begin my course at Banff! There is so much prep before our first class tomorrow but WOW, I have already learned so much and I am honoured to have won a scholarship to be able to attend this amazing event.

I'm still awaiting word on a few things I applied for next year, but even if I don't get anything I have so much writing to do that I know another year will pass in a flash. I could use the downtime I have been so busy, and you can watch my recent talks here, here, and here.

For those of you who are participating in NaNoWriMo, I salute you! I am a two year Veteran and your experience will be amazing no matter how many words you write! And for those of you up early like me, we are all in this together, let's not forget that, even though its solitary work, you are never alone, and look how far you've come! :-)

Keep Writing!

This month I am reading:

UNESCO World Virtual Indigenous Circle on Open Science and the Decolonization of Knowledge.

Just One Damned Thing After Another: The Chronicles of St Mary's, Book 1
by Jodi Taylor

I am listening to:

October 2021

Outside The Writer’s Studio

September was heavy and I am thankful to see October pop up on my calendar with cool and fresh airs. I’ve been busy with meetings and deadlines and events, and Canada’s first Truth and Reconciliation Day, which was very difficult, containing painful family discussions. I think it’s hard to move sometimes when things have been stagnant for so long, it’s all new territory and you have to pull up your roots to advance. Ouch!

I was amazed at how quickly I was able to rewrite my book. The Publisher passed it to one of their Editors and now I am just sitting with my fingers crossed for a couple of weeks. I have to say though, that I have a warm feeling in my tum, not so much from the Publisher’s kind words, but from the story itself, which I now love. It was my goal this year to sign another contract, so I hope it happens, this book has been a lifetime in the making.

I am still in a holding pattern sorting out what I will be doing in the spring, but I can’t sit still for long as I continue on with my busy fall schedule, giving workshops and talks across the country and attending a program at the Banff Center in November.

I will be selling some of my woven cedar art at the Silk Purse Arts Centre Holiday Store (which I believe will be online this year), and am hoping to be part of a larger exhibition in the spring.

I hope you have a happy and spooky month, keep writing!

This month I am reading:

The Sanatorium
by Sarah Pearse

milk and honey
by Rupi Kaur

New feature starting this month!

This month I am listening to:

September 2021

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Well, August turned out to be an epic month in a number of ways. Not only did summer suddenly fall off with a thud, but I received a record 14 rejections in the last half of the month! I would feel bad about it, but that number just seemed so ridiculous it was funny!

Of course, it is always the way, and my Mentor Stella reminded me that something good is always around the corner, and it was, I woke up yesterday to read the email that said: The Doula Support Foundation (DSF) is proud to announce that you are the first-place laureate of the Doula Support Foundation’s Birth Story Contest 2021.“

What a huge honor! And the fact that it was judged by midwives, who are some of my very favorite people was a huge bonus. You will be able to read it soon here in the newspaper and in book form!

Not only that, but as some of you may know I have been working on a book since 1978, and it has been sent to many, many publishers. In July I decided to change it up a bit and I sent it away again. This time I received a quick response with some amazing suggestions for a revision and something clicked in me, and I sat and started writing over 6k words a day! It was finally working for me and, I think it’s good. I sent the first revised 80 pages back to the publisher already, and I know if they don’t want it, somebody will now.

I also wanted to let you know that I am having my #Dystonia Fundraiser the first week of the month and if you purchase my ebook (People Like Frank and Other Stories from the Edge of Normal) on either Amazon.ca or Amazon.co.uk from the 1st to the 7th, all proceeds will go towards Dystonia research in Canada and the UK! Yay!

My fall calendar is so full with speaking engagements and workshops I am giving, and still another surprise came when I was given a full Scholarship to attend a Banff Centre course in November.

The other bits and pieces of my days that aren’t filled with writing are filled with making regalia, applying for art exhibitions, and being extremely proud of some of the recent work that I can show you now, please visit Impressions and look for my film here. It was another huge honor to be part of this project!

So into the busy autumn I go, I hope you are all safe and healthy and I hope to see you soon!

Keep writing!

This month I am reading:

Mostly my own ancient writing:-)

August 2021

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Well, I survived the worst heat we’ve ever had, my second COVID vaccine and a few rejections. But on the flip side, my imposter syndrome was quashed by the invitation to spend a second year as Writer in Residence at the BC History Magazine, so that makes up for everything. I have much more to share about BC’s Indigenous history in my column ‘Sharing Space’, I hope you’ll come and check it out, you can also read online through your local library.

I’m not in school this term, so I applied for a few residencies and Fellowships and most importantly, I rejigged my book and sent it out to two publishers. I have a great feeling about it now, it came together so quickly, and for me, that’s a positive sign that it's working.

I also began another book and am over 46k words in, which I am also really happy about, so in my writing world, there has been a lot of movement, (even though one whole week of vaccine recovery was taken up with an 'Alien' marathon).

I may not get back to Harvard this fall; I have the class link on my desktop, but I didn't get a study grant this year, so I’m not sure I can balance the tuition with no art shows booked, we’ll see. For people who make their living in the arts, the COVID years have been hard.

But all moaning aside, I am looking forward to the fall, especially now that the forest fire smoke has arrived on the west coast. I am so looking forward to rain and cooler temps. In the meantime though, it's a good excuse to stay indoors and write!

Stay safe and keep writing!

This month I am reading:

The Power of Place, the Problem of Time: Aboriginal Identity and Historical Consciousness in the Cauldron of Colonialism

by Keith Carlson

July 2021

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Well, it’s July. Wow. I’ve survived the year to date. Usually, in July I think about my sister’s birthday and the impending summer heat. But this year, I will think instead about my sister’s birthday and the fact that after our recent heatwave, I can live through just about anything, as long as my AC unit keeps functioning.

Not being able to step foot outside did keep me writing fairly steadily and I am coming up on 26k of a new novella. This is the one where I dreamt the entire thing and just had to get up and write down the outline and now I am just filling in the words. Writing is a magical process sometimes! If you want to know more about my writing, I have a new interview out here!

I have been feeling a down of late, everything I applied for this year, I didn’t get (grants, residencies), sometimes it’s hard to remember that something better is coming. I get impatient and have that FOMO (feeling of missing out), but I just keep reminding myself and being grateful for the journey so far. Of course, I did not win the Indigenous Voices Award, but I truly feel that being shortlisted is a huge win, and I don’t count this in my losses at all. If you would like to hear me read a bit, you can check out the awards gala here. It was such a huge honour to be nominated amongst these brilliant writers!

Another thing I am grateful for is the experienced I have gained in my marketing life. Here is one of my best interviews so far, and although you do need to be a paid member to enjoy it, it also comes with a discount code for my book, and if you love knitting, this magazine will be right up your alley!

So, onward I go, into the rest of the year. I am still waiting to hear about several things, I hope something will stick. In the meantime, I am just going to keep my head down and keep writing. I am laying off the book marketing for a bit because I think that was part of the problem; I was not feeling grounded because I was working more on marketing rather than writing. I need to write like I need to breathe.

Stay safe, stay cool, and keep writing! See you next month.

This month I am reading:

Paranoia in the Launderette
by Bruce Robinson

Long Dark Teatime of the Soul
by Douglas Adams

June 2021

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Welcome June! I plan to slow it down a notch and try hard to get more writing in. Last month I submitted lots but had an equal amount of rejections, hoping for better results this month, and I will also hear about the Audible Residency in a few weeks. *Update June 14th, I didn’t get in;-(.

I began a new book project that came to me in a dream and outlined the entire thing in a day! I’m excited to work on that, but I am just going to work on bits and pieces until I hear about Audible and that will determine which project I work on for the rest of the year, I’d like to finish something book-length to submit.

I have one more interview coming up with a knitting magazine(!) and then might take some time off Zoom. I’ve found once a week art class is enough live screen time for me!

In the next weeks, I will get new headshots, and then the IVA Awards are on National Indigenous Day on June 21st, where I hope all reading this will join in the Gala! It will be a fun event and you will get to hear all the nominees read from their work.

Today is supposed to be unseasonably hot, so I am hunkering down inside and writing? nope, knitting a sweater! I’ve finally learned how and I’m on my second one with loads of ideas flowing! 

See you in a month, keep writing!

This month I am reading:

The Private Journals of Captain GH Richards
The Vancouver Island Survey (1860 - 1862)
Eds Dorricott & Cullon

Resilience Through Writing: A Bibliographic Guide to Indigenous-Authored Publications in the Pacific Northwest before 1960
By Robert Walls

May 2021

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Well last month had ups and downs, I didn’t get grants, funding, residencies, none of my submissions were picked up and I had quite a few ‘no thank yous’, but, this is the life. The no’s don’t usually come so thick and heavy all at once, but that’s a good sign, it means I’m applying and trying to get myself out there. And, it also means that something good is just around the corner!

Mixed in with the disappointments though, were some great bits that shone so brightly! I DID get a full scholarship to study my cultural art forms for ten weeks, the garden finally woke up, I was able to sit in on some sessions with Penguin/Random House Canada which were amazing, I sent my middle-grade book to another publisher, I’ve done some really fun podcasts, check this one out from Ireland, and I’ve had some awesome story ideas! And, I finished a huge presentation that I’m going to give to the Friends of the BC Archives in October. Whew!

That’s the writing life you guys, never think it’s different, it has had ups and downs, hard starts and stops, but: that is the way:-)

Today I have a couple of events, next week more, including a presentation at the BC Libraries Conference. This month I will also be hearing back about more grants, another residency, more submissions and another award. So lots happening. I was moaning about not having time to write and my brain is so full I have stories sneaking out of me any way they can, in my dreams or that half awake half asleep space, thank goodness for my iPad where I can sleepily leave myself a voice memo.

Anyway, pushing on, I hope you are well and safe and vaccinated, I wish you lots of happy writing in the month ahead, happy May!

*Update: I do need to add here that I was just shortlisted for the Indigenous Voices Award for my book #PeopleLikeFrank and I am so honoured!!!

*Of note! My amazing Mentor Stella Harvey has just started a newsletter, get over there and sign up, it’s amazing!;-)

This month I am reading:

by Roald Dahl

Lab Girl
by Hope Jahren

Indian Horse
by Richard Wagamese

April 2021

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Well, it’s been a bit of a disappointing week as I found out I didn’t get the grant I applied for last fall. Well to be fair to me, they said it did get ‘recommended’ but I just didn’t make the final cut, so I can take solace in that; I did work so hard on the application. But, moving forward!

I’ve set up a press section on my website where I’ve also been putting my podcasts if you would like to take a peek and have a listen. I have a few that are completed but not posted up yet and I have many more booked. I was also fortunate enough to be chosen to be in a documentary which I will link to when it’s live as well.

No news on my manuscripts, but I don’t think I’ll hear back until summertime, so, something to look forward to/dread (a writer’s feeling!). I’ve also sent out some new writing that I have a good feeling about.

I feel like I’ve been working so much on book pr that I haven’t had time to write, so I am looking forward to getting back to the page in the early mornings. The fact that I didn’t get my grant also helps to give me some direction now on what to work on because the grant had been for a very specific project.

It was Access Copyright day for me and I submitted all my pages for 2019. It was a nice reminder of the work I had done and always makes me feel like a ‘real writer’ when I am submitting my numbers. I can’t wait for next year when I can include my 2020 works and my book!

Allergies have me feeling off-balance right now, but I am due my vaccine tomorrow and so things are looking up! I am also working on a few projects including a library workshop for beginning writers, an art project with a very talented composer in the UK Chris Hopkins, and of course my monthly poetry project. I hope by next month I’ll be able to say that I am working on one of my book projects, once I settle down and get organized.

Things I am reading this month:

The Woman Who Raised the Buddha
by Wendy Garling

Shuggie Bain
by Douglas Stuart

Indians on Vacation
by Thomas King

Stay well, be safe and keep writing! See you in a few weeks:-)

March 2021

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Hurray spring is coming! And although I am still hot and heavy into grant and residency applications I have already been out and spread some compost on the garden and that feels so good!

I’m excited because my inaugural issue of BC History Magazine has been delivered to the printer, and it should be out by the end of the week and the digital version will be available on March 4th.

I have been doing a lot of podcast interviews promoting People Like Frank, both in Canada and the UK, which will roll out over the next few months. I will link them all on my website, but here is the first.

There are two manuscripts sitting with a publisher back east and my fingers are getting cramped from being crossed, but I hope to hear back by early summer. If nothing comes of them that’s ok, I will keep shopping, I have high hopes for them both.

I set myself a task of writing a poem every month this year, but so far I am up to 8 yay! I have also entered one contest and sent in a few short submissions. I haven’t been writing too much, I took a short art class and that was amazing, so am finding my balance again and even have a live exhibit coming up, my first in over a year.

What are your writing plans and hopes for the spring? I’d love to chat, join me on any of my social media pages for a wee chin wag! And in the meantime, keep writing!

February 2021

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Wow, last month flew by, probably because I had my head down doing a major art studio clean and organize, and now I’m planning for the next room.

This feels like it will be a month of enlightenment. I have applied for so many things: grants, residencies, I have a book under consideration at two different publishers, at opposite ends of the country, and another book being looked at by an agent, and this will be the month that I hear back about almost all of these things. So, once I hear back I’ll know which direction my year will take.

In the meantime, I will be cleaning and organizing, working on PR campaigns for Frank, oh and I won a partial scholarship to study with one of my favourite artists mid-month, Lewis Rossignol, so I know this month is going to fly by as well.

I’ve applied to a few contests and publications for both art and writing and my Submittable page is growing; it feels nice to have time to do that and I’m so happy that I took this semester off school. I haven’t decided if I will go back in May or the fall, everything depends on what happens this spring.

On my reading list right now are mainly books for researching my next piece for the BC History Magazine which is due March 1, and I have just come up with my idea for the fall issue, so will add that to my to-do list. I hope you’ll grab a subscription this year, it’s going to be amazing!

That’s about all I can think of for now, but here’s a wee plug: if you are a member of the Writer’s Union, I am open for one time Mentorship as per the most recent newsletter! I’d love to work with you!

Happy February, I’m still hoping for snow:-)

Keep writing!

January 2021

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Happy New Year! I wish us all the very best this year, health and happiness and many fantastic words written!

Last month I learned I was waitlisted for one of my Banff Writer’s Programs and I will know next week if I am accepted; if not, I will hope for the March run. I also received a very kind letter from a publisher who is considering June, so I am over the moon and my 15-year-old self is jumping up and down. I am hopeful, but also realistic, if they don’t take it, I know I am on the right path with it and will keep shopping.

Last month I received one rejection and submitted two pieces of short fiction. I also got back into my habit of getting up and writing, which has made me feel human again.

My writing goals for this year include, having another book published, finishing my nonfiction manuscript, maybe finishing Last Stupid, and maybe reworking Ravens if I can find the time - because I received some valuable feedback from the Ed at HC that I can’t let it go to waste. I’ve also learned how to knit Norwegian style, so of course, I have to balance everything out:-)

Last year I enjoyed being part of a ‘book club’, listening to a few audio books and reading on my iPad. The things I learned were to listen to readers, that I prefer to hold a paper book in my hand and we will for sure be working on my audiobook of Frank this year!

I feel like one of the most important things I will be doing this year, is taking my place as Writer in Residence at the British Columbia History Magazine, where I will be making space for the Indigenous history of BC. I will have three special guest writers and I am really excited about what they will have to show us!

I hope you have fun making your goals for the year, I love a fresh new page!

December 2020

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Hurray, it’s December! School is over for the semester and I have decided to take next term off and try for some residency spots. High on my list is Banff, something I have always wanted to do but would never have had the opportunity until now because it will be offered virtually.

I am also applying for a CC Grant this month and working on my spring book promo which includes a podcast ‘tour’ and a special event that I am cooking up for Valentine’s Day!

Last month I submitted one poem, one bit of flash and one short story and was nominated for #BestMicroflash for the original version of ‘Still’. I had a very chatty interview and suffice to say I am no longer nervous on camera! (I don’t know if that’s good or bad!). And, I’m excited to hear feedback on my mid-grade book this month! I have that feeling in my gut that it won’t get picked up by HC, but I love the story and will keep shopping it:-)

For December I am going to do some actual writing or at least that is my hope/plan and I will give it some wellie. I plan on blasting through applications this week and then getting up to write every day, just like the good old days (of a year ago). 

This year has changed me. Having a book published has changed me. Before this year I was a naive writer, now I’m an author, a bit wiser, a bit older and with a firm understanding of why some of my literary heroes drank. 

I’m excited for next year, and I want to thank you here for reading this and accompanying me on this weird journey!

Happy Christmas and Hanukkah, this has been a weird year for everybody, take your light where you can and celebrate everything! I’ll see you here on new year’s day refreshed and ready to do it all over again!

Keep smiling and keep writing!

Here are my favourite reads from this year:


Westover, Tara

Moon of the Crusted Snow: A Novel

Rice, Waubgeshig

The Dutch House: A Novel

by Ann Patchett

Little Weirds

by Jenny Slate

November 2020

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Wow, another amazing month has past and I have to admit I am looking forward to a wee bit of downtime! Tomorrow, Nov 1st, I am taking over the Massy Arts Society Instagram from 9 am to 9 pm, where I’ll be talking writing tips, prompts and I’ll be giving away two manuscript consultations!

Then on November 19th, I’ll be in conversation over here with one of my heroes Randy Fred.

My school term is finished the first week of Dec, so this month will also be a busy school month, but then! Then I hope to take December off to loll about and maybe get back to some writing. I have been writing a bit here and there preparing for 2021, (Oh have I mentioned it yet? - I will be the Writer in Residence at the BC History Magazine next year!), so that’s what I’m working on now in my bits and pieces of spare time:-) Yay!

I have two manuscripts out at different publishers for consideration and I know I will hear back from one in December, so really looking forward to some feedback on my middle-grade idea! The other one not sure, but they have had it since August so it could be a while longer. And then I think I should hear back from some other places this month, one contest and one submission. 

There are a few calls I would like to submit to, but I would need to find extra hours in my day! (Which could be doable as we fall back into Daylight Savings tonight!;-).

I’ve made an events page on my website, so you can keep up with me here and there, and have a very happy fall - see you next month!


October 2020

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Well, it’s finally here, book launch month. What a journey! I know it’s far from over yet, but soon I will have my book in my hands and I will breathe a sigh of relief!

Last month was the culmination of many years of hard work and I had back to back publications out including this piece of flash at Five South, my nonfiction piece in BC History as well as it’s accompanying Study Guide, the North Valparaiso chapbook that I worked on with the Barmans, and my art was on the front covers of the Muriel’s Journey Poetry Prize publication and the Federation of BC Writer’s Wordworks Magazine. The launch of my new project website, and last but not least, my book has already had its first review in the Miramichi Reader and I couldn’t be happier!

This month I’ll be at (virtually) The Whistler Writer’s Festival, you can buy tickets for my event here (but don’t just come to mine there are so many amazing things happening and you can go to them all!), my book launch will also be online through Massy Books (there will be signed copies available here!), oh and ok I will let the cat out of the proverbial bag, I have a very special guest joining me:-)

Along with all of that I find myself almost at the midway point of my school semester which has been very heavy as I am concurrently enrolled in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh led Mi tel’nexw Leadership Transformation Course and of course October means the International Spinathon and this will be my second year participating. 

When this is all written out in front of me it is slightly overwhelming, but I am appreciating the ride, even though it is a little fast for my liking, so I am just trying to enjoy the wind in my hair! 

Happy fall!

September 2020

Outside The Writer’s Studio

August was amazing! Not only did my antibiotics kick in after a long sick summer, but my book was delivered to the printer, and a piece of flash I have been shopping for a year finally got picked up, with one of the best acceptance letters I have ever seen, which was a gift in itself:

"You get the (imaginary) prize of weirdest/coolest story of the issue! I just loved it. Weird and cool is what we do at Five South and you nailed it."

This month I begin at Harvard Grad School of Education (I didn’t get my first choice but I’m just happy to be here!), my art is on the cover of Wordworks Magazine, the publication of the Federation of BC Writers, and I have a juicy article coming out in BC History Magazine along with an upper grades study guide. My Talking with Grandmothers website will be live any day and I am working hard on a middle-grade book pitch for Harper Collins Canada which is due at the end of the month. Thankfully I had a solid idea and 10k words ready to expand on when the call came out!

I also have my first reprint of an article and the accompanying art, so I’m over the moon about that! (I will add links when everything is live), and am so honoured to have a painting on the cover of the Muriel's Journey Poetry Prize Chapbook this year (that is the prize I won last year), there is still time to sign up for the virtual awards this year here.

I will also be filming for the Whistler Writers Festival, which is going to be amazing, and what an honour! Get your tickets now, it’s virtual this year so you can participate from everywhere and it’s an amazing lineup!

I did get one rejection which was happy/sad; a publisher had my MS for 8 months and I was feeling good, but I didn’t make the cut, although they said I did make the top 10, so that felt hopeful and I quickly sent it off to another publisher. Fingers still crossed, I know it’s a good book.

It’s going to be a busy autumn but I am so ready! Now to unpack my middle-grade book and flesh out 20k more words!

Happy Fall! Get cozy and read lots of books!

August 2020

Outside The Writer’s Studio

Wow, July was an epic month. Not only because I received the Jackson Mooney Grant from The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, but because I also became a member of The Writer’s Union of Canada, so I feel all kinds of legit!

On the flip side, of course, I did not get one of the grants I applied for, or a school program, but I did get a surprising source of funding and am still waiting on another school application. It can take a month I think before I’ll know, but my fingers are crossed. I’ve also been booked for some online teaching and a few workshops on both writing and art through to October of next year, so I will be busy enough, and I feel like everything happens as it should, so something good will be just around the corner.

Next month I am looking forward to an article in BC History Magazine, as well as a magazine cover, where they requested 15 paintings to make a collage, so exciting!

My book goes to print this month and I am in the throes of trying to figure out how my virtual book launch will look in October, I love being creative so this situation is right up my alley.

I have also sent some poems out into the world and have done a bit of new writing which has been fun and freeing. Although I love my little book, we needed a bit of a break from each other after the revisions were finished. I am enjoying the amazing feedback I’ve been getting and the beautiful quotes from readers that will be on the back of the book - yay! I can’t wait for the rest to come in and then this book will be formally finished.

For August I will be finishing a website that I received a grant for, doing some more new writing and more submissions. I will also be resting and relaxing and basking in the glow of my first shiny new book.

Happy Summer, read lots of books!

July 2020

Inside The Writer’s Studio

Well, it is finally here, ARC week! I am amazed at the amount of work I have done in the past 5 months and I’m so excited to start getting some feedback on the book. I also had that feeling  you get when you have a baby and you’re like “Well, I’m never going to do that again!” and the next thing you know you’re pregnant. Yesterday I started writing again. It felt good to get fresh words onto the page, with no direction, no plan, just writing because I wanted to. Deelish!

I think we have one more TA meeting with school sometime later this month, a sort of debriefing I believe and then I’m finished with SFU for now. I’ve got my eye on the job board though so I know I’ll be back! I’m also waiting to hear if I have received a Grant to go back to Harvard this fall, I hope to hear about that in the next two weeks. If I don’t get it I will prob just bum around and work on my other books projects this fall.

In the meantime though, I have a lot of work with the Federation of BC Writers to get finished and I really want to learn more about Haiku, so I may join a group. I attended a workshop last weekend and it was so interesting. I wrote two poems and shipped them off right away to a publication, so we’ll see if I caught the gist of it:-) I also finished my next piece for the BC History Magazine and it will be in the September issue. This month will also see the long awaited release of the Chapbook project that I did with the Barmans for the Polygon Gallery, I will add a link when I get it.

This past month I have managed to also submit to two or three other places, I had one juicy story ready to go, as it was cut from the book, so I’m hoping it will see the light of day soon. I also had 2 rejections and a piece of art in the Brooklyn Review!

I knew to have a book published was not going to be a piece of cake, but I never knew it was going to be so hard. Writing is a personal thing and so opening it up to all kinds of surgery with people you barely know has been draining. I look forward to a few weeks to apply sutures and heal.

June 2020

Inside The Writer’s Studio

This month was so busy my head is still spinning. We had our last class with our students from The Writer’s Studio, 2019 Cohort. They were all brilliant and I can’t wait to see their books in print! I’m incredibly honoured to be a part of their journey, I have learned so much from each of them.

Last month I formally joined the Board of Directors at the Federation of BC Writers and have been doing some small things for them, I also won an Honourable Mention for an article I wrote for the BC History Magazine last year, another huge honour and a really big surprise! I had to spend some time doing interviews which I am happy to report, no longer make me nervous!

I also found out that the piece I helped the Barman’s with will see the light of day soon, and I will link it here when it’s live. The printed copy will be coming out this summer. It’s called "North Valparaiso" in the Polygon’s new Parallels series of books.

I also had about 4 rejections, mostly for poetry. I also didn’t get my big grant again, but I have applied for a smaller one. 

It is amazing now that my book is together how much time revisions take. I had no idea and I now dedicate at last 6 hours a day to writing which is hard on the brain, BUT I am so happy because it is so worth it. I am also fortunate that my Publishers and I think a lot alike and I can embrace their editing ideas, I think that is super important!

This month will see my ARC (advanced reading copies) printed and handed out to readers and more work on other projects including websites and my other article for the BC History Magazine (Winter issue I think). I’m also going to be napping in my new hammock and pulling weeds. Yay June!

May 2020

Inside The Writer’s Studio

When I re-read last month’s post, I was so surprised at how far I had come. Not just in the physical act of finishing the book, but also going emotionally from terrified to elated. And this past week, I have also had a few minutes to paint, so I’m feeling pretty good.

Of course next week at my next marketing meeting I may be reduced to a bowl of jello, but right now it all feels awesome, and I have been proactive and sent the publisher my lists and finished producing my book trailer, so all is well.

Aside from book work, we are coming to the end of school and I believe May is our last month of classes. I feel like our students this year have had some profound changes, especially in gelling together as a group, who has now found a leader( yay!) and will continue working together once classes are over. This makes me so happy, having been an isolated writer for my whole life. What a difference some feedback makes!

This month I am awaiting word from other publishers about other book projects, I’m waiting for grant news and word about a few small pieces I have out in the world. I also have other news to share, but am sworn to secrecy until next month! Shhh. 

I will also begin work on the Grandmothers website and I’ve been asked to submit an article to BC History again, so I will begin that this week as well.

Any bloggers, booktubers or podcasts that would like an interview or an arc please hit me up and I’ll put you on my list, I’m excited to do a ‘virtual’ book tour this fall and I hope to chat with you then!

Happy Spring everybody, and remember we’re physically distancing, not socially distancing, you can still use phones and social media to stay connected to people. And there’s so much time to read! Our local library is doing drop off and pick - ups, and there are so many books online, see what your local is up to! You’re never truly alone if you have a book:-)

April 2020

Inside The Writer’s Studio

Having known I was a writer from a very young age, one of my biggest dreams was to sign a contract for my first book. I knew what my first book would be, I had a favourite pen that I would sign with, a best/coolest outfit picked to wear, I had it all planned. But as the hours inch closer to my dream, I see now that the world is a different place and everything I had thought it would be, won’t be.

Instead, I will be here, at my keyboard, I will most likely be in my PJs, and my favourite pen, whatever it was is long gone and lost forever. But what is the same is the feeling. The pride, mixed with fear, mixed with a relief, that my years of work are paying off and that now I have a different kind of work ahead of me. The feeling of crossing that hurdle, that feeling of accomplishment. It is all just as sweet now as it was in my dreams that are now decades old.

That’s what I’m doing this week. Signing a contract for my first book.

Other than that, I have a few new pieces out and some due out soon. Please check out (sometime  this month) https://funnypearls.com/
https://www.nunum.ca/current.html (just out), and https://everydayfiction.com/we-by-jenn-ashton/ (just out). I also received three rejections, but I’m ok with that!

I’m also working on a new story for BC History Magazine while doing book revisions and planting my garden. It may be too chilly, and a tad too early, but I have great hopes, and so far, all of my hard labours have come to fruition; sooner or later they all do, sometimes, just not in the way you have planned.

Stay safe and keep writing!

March 2020

Inside The Writer’s Studio

Last month was a struggle and it’s my own fault, I find that I’m a ‘joiner’ and I will always join you in this challenge or that, and for February I was in the ‘Post-it note Poetry Challenge #PINP20, where I wrote a really bad poem on a post-it note every day. And oh wow, some of them were stinkers. I did discover though, that what was really challenging for me was to write a really bad poem! There is an art to it, where they are bad, but also sort of clever. I think I only hit the nail once with that, suffice to say I’m happy that’s over and I will not join anything else for a while!

In February I submitted 4 short stories, one short story contest and two poems. I should be hearing back this month about a few things. I was really happy to have made a long list here for my story ‘Values’. It’s my first long-list so I’m extremely pleased, even though I went no further I think it’s something to celebrate!

I also had 4 more artworks accepted into the Periwinkle Literary Journal, and have works coming out in the Brooklyn Review.

I summoned the courage to send my nonfiction synopsis to a publisher and received a very nice note back that they would like to see the finished MS. So that sent me over the moon, and I will be working like mad to finish something to show them. I also hit that ‘rupture’ stage with this work, where I sat and asked myself ‘What the hell am I writing?’ and ‘Why?’. So I am busy working my way around the edges of it by writing scenes and some flash and the odd poem here and there to get myself back into it.

“If you build it they will come.” I’m sure of it.

Last week I was also offered a Board position at the Federation of BC Writers and a spot in the Indigenous Writer’s Collective, which is just getting started and I’ll be helping them get off the ground. Our first meeting is April if you’re keen hit me up, you don’t need to be there in person, we will have tech available for you to join online.

In my very spare moments I am reading Educated, and when I’m finished that, My Life Among The Indians is up next, a gift from my friend Aisling.

Our cross-over class in TWS went really well and it was fantastic to have 8 new students and read their work. I was floored at the level of professionalism. It makes me happy and hopeful that we are putting such amazing writers out into the world! Rah!

It’s almost spring!

February 2020

Inside The Writer’s Studio

Wow, the year started with a bang indeed! My long talked about ‘Big Year of Writing’ has begun and I’m happy with my results:

18 agents pitched (Letters to June)
with 6 very kind rejections.

8 short stories/flash/microflash/art submitted to lit journals with 4 accepted (and one awaiting word on revisions, but prob accepted) Brooklyn Review (art), Baram House (2 pieces of flash), Everyday Fiction (Short story), NUNUM (micro flash) and 2 rejections.

I’ve also received a grant from The Canada Council (Creating, Knowing and Sharing: The Arts and Cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples Small-Scale Activities Grant) to build an interactive website that contains some of my book research. This was huge as it feels like a foot in the door (after 50 years of work).

So, I’ve been half working on web ideas and half working on my book and half just writing whatever I feel like. I was also given a publisher’s number and I am currently beefing myself up to call. I feel like I’m really terrible on the phone, so it’s taking a big effort.

For February I’ll be participating in the #PINP20 (Post-it note poetry) challenge, which is to write a bad poem on a post it note every day, only I’ll be writing them on my Instagram here, (to save on paper of course!). Join me and use the hashtag so I can see your magnificent work!

Last month was also the ‘cross-genre’ month in the Writer’s Studio at SFU, so we had a new group of 8 students and gosh and wow I was floored by their amazing work! Well done everybody!

My reading list is so massive I will share next month!

I’m excited every day about this year and I’m putting everything I have into it, I really hope to have a book deal by the end of 2020. Hey-ho-let’s-go!

January 2020

Inside The Writer’s Studio

Happy New Year!

I woke up today, January 1st and first thing sent an email I had written yesterday to a publisher’s call for books. So June is off and running! This will be her year I feel it!

I also awoke to what I have entitled “My Big Year of Writing’. I have not booked any art exhibitions until 2021, and although I will of course still be painting and playing with wool, my main focus will be writing. I plan on revising my draft of Stupid Thing and finishing at least my first draft of Grandmothers. I also have more ideas to pitch to the BC History magazine and a few other ideas and collaborations, so I’m excited about this year!

My stats for last year (not to brag, rather keep track):

Published works
6 poems, 6 other bits of writing, 10 paintings Art Exhibitions
4 solo and part of 11 other duo or group exhibitions worldwide
2 for writing, 1 for art
Research Grants Awarded

For me, this is a big success, given that I have been writing for 50 years now. It is also a big contrast to what our year at home has been, so it is made even brighter by the dark.

Oh and hey, please folllow along with my new year’s project on Instagram!

Health and happiness to you in the new year, now I can’t wait to get back to work!:-)

December 2019

Inside The Writer’s Studio

Well! NaNoWriMo was awesome, and maybe because I cut my word count in half and wrote flash fiction instead. It was an excellent writing practice, getting up every day while my mind was still dreamy! Here are my stats:

30 days, 35 pieces of flash, 3 poems, 25, 903 words, 95 pages, three submitted, one published!

I was on a bit of a roller coaster last month until I spoke with my Mentor about my experience with meeting the Publisher and Agent. I guess in my mind I thought something would happen immediately, but it didn’t, so I did follow up with them and heard back from one and not the other - yet - I still have hope, but at the same time, I’m not hanging around to wait and will be shovelling my work off to more people this month.

Writing my flash in November made me come to the same conclusion, I wrote some good words and had a few starts that can be longer works, so I am feeling the need to start getting my work out into the big world:-)

For December I have relinquished my Dressember fundraising duties after 4 years as we have so many friends ill right now, and I want to turn myself towards them and their fights. So home is my focus and on this first day of December, it feels like the right decision.

I’m still in flash mode, so I know I’ll keep on with that and will also be focussing on getting my press kit (I call it) around to more publishers and agents and we’ll see if I get a bite. What a happy Christmas that would be!

Wishing you happy wintertime, and joyous celebrations to you all!

November 2019

Inside The Writer’s Studio

Happy NaNoWriMo month! Last year some of my cohort and I participated in NaNo and I finished my novel Letters To June! It was an epic feeling!

This year the same cohort is back at it, but this time we’ve invited some of our students to join our group. I think it will be fun, even though I said I wasn't going to ‘join’ anything for the rest of the year!

I’ll be writing flash instead of working on a novel, so that is exciting, and I think it will feel less daunting and more relaxing. I can whip off a flash story before I finish my coffee, and it’s great practice for me, writing daily, as I prepare for my ‘year of writing’ in 2020.

Last month I received 3 rejections and one request for poetry. I had one of my winning poems read on the radio (yay!), and I submitted a few short stories.

The most important thing that happened to me though was meeting with Lynn Henry the Publishing Director at Knopf/Penguin/Random House and Rachel Letofsky of Cooke McDermid.

I was pitching Letters to June, but I was really happy to be able to speak about some of my other work as well. I can’t remember ever feeling so happy, hopeful and fulfilled as I felt after those meetings and I walked on clouds for days:-) For me, it was like reaching the top of a mountain I had been climbing for 40 years.

In the TWS the student pieces I have read are just amazing. I am so honoured to be there and in my mind’s eye, I can see the future of my bookshelves, lined with their work.

Winter is almost here and I am excited. Dark and quiet mornings writing beside the fire. Does it get any better?

October 2019

Inside The Writer’s Studio

October began with a bang as we had our first workshop with the new students. Suffice to say I’m blown away by the writing and the writers. What an amazing group and I am so excited for the next year ahead!

It’s the 4th as I write this and that means only two weeks to go before I meet with Penguin and Cooke McDermid! Today I’ve spent around 8 hours revising the book I’m pitching as well as preparing elevator pitches for a few of my other finished works, which I hope to talk about if there is time.

Last month I had three poems published and I submitted one short story and entered one flash fiction contest. I think Dec/January I will be hearing back about some older submissions, so I’m pretty excited about this winter!

I haven’t done a lot of new writing outside of some sprints with TWS students and my old cohort, which is always a blast and gets me lots of interesting words down to be used for future writing!

I’ve finally started reading from the huge pile of books I’ve collected over the summer, first up Catcher In The Rye which I have never read, but often been compared with.

Next free minute I have I’ll write out what I’m reading. So much great stuff!!

Happy writing!

September 2019

Inside The Writer’s Studio

So happy to be able to write Inside the Writer’s Studio again:-) And I’m super excited to meet the new students this month as I TA for my Mentor Stella Harvey this year in TWS!

Last month I submitted 4 short stories and 6 poems, had two rejections and 3 poems accepted, and one big acceptance from the BC History Magazine! My article will be in the Winter issue:-).

My fingers are crossed so hard for the CBC NonFiction contest longlist, which we should be hearing about any day. It’s a long time to wait, but it will be worth it if I’m on it! And if not, no worries I’m happy to shop my story around, I know it’s pretty good:-)

This month is busy as I am doing final revisions on Letters To June before I meet with Penguin and an Agent from Cooke Mcdermid near the end of October.

For writing last month I concentrated on sprinting and stream of consciousness writing, and I think I got some good words down.

I was also told that I received my Professional Aboriginal Artist designation for the Canada Council, so also spent many hours on my grant application. This one I should hear about in January. If I get it, it will give me 12 months of breathing space so I can finish my Creative NonFiction book Talking with Grandmothers, I still have so much research to complete.

Onward to the cooler writing weather!

August 2019

Outside The Writer’s Studio

For some reason, I am procrastinating on my revisions. Well, that may not be 100% true, I have had a busy past few weeks that included my husband having surgery and another good friend passing away, so when I have had the chance to write, it was more just to get out some ideas so I don’t lose them. I know revisions will begin soon enough, it’s my MO, waiting until I have a deadline!

And I will indeed have the deadline soon enough, as I am applying to pitch at the Whistler Writer’s Festival in October and I need to decide what exactly I’m going to pitch by August 12th. I have 3 possibilities and all are in the revision stage.

My Mentor said whatever I feel is the strongest, and I guess that would have to be the book I have workshopped over the past year.

I have also been applying for grants and have found somebody to help me out, thank goddy god because I am crap at it. So fingers crossed for this time around, I have not booked any art exhibits for 2020 as I would like to concentrate on research for my non-fiction and then get it written and revised.

Last month I had 4 rejections, no acceptances, one published and I have put in 4 new submissions. 

I’m so happy our writer’s group is continuing and I’ll find out next week about TA-ing with my Mentor Stella Harvey for the SFU TWS class of 2020! (*Update yes I will be hurray!)

The biggest news, and best for last, is that I have started a feedback service over here - please share around! Yay!

And drop over to our Facebook page where we have all sorts of cool tips and things! 

Until next time!

July 2019

Outside The Writer’s Studio

I feel like the leaf has turned! Although I am still awaiting feedback on my portfolio from my second Mentor, Claudia Cornwall, I have finished the program! What an amazing journey!

Now I feel like the real work begins. I have so much revising to do, and it is often interrupted by short story writing, but won’t complain about that, I quite like that sort of interruption.

I  have completed drafts of two books which I am working at revising as I would like to pitch both at the Whistler Writer’s Fest this fall.  I think I can choose 2 publishers; I wanted to pick two of the ‘Big 5’ but was told I should probably choose one smaller one too. We’ll see what happens when the time comes - sometimes I’m not sure what my hand will do:-).

I am waiting to hear if I will be TA-ing in the Studio Program this fall. I heard that we will be told around the end of July. I am also waiting to hear back about a few submissions, and I think I will hear back about at least two of them this month. 

Last month I had 4 rejections, zero acceptances and submitted to 5 lit journals. My rejections were from December, March and April. I currently have 10 active submissions and will no doubt add to that this month, I’d like that number to be sitting at around 20.

I’ll update more soon:-)


June 2019

Inside The Writer’s Studio

Well, it’s not technically June yet, it’s still three days away, but I thought this was a good day to write because I am sitting here feeling proud and sad as tonight is the last workshop with our Mentor Stella Harvey.

The course is not quite over, we still have a few lectures and our final portfolio as well as our piece for publication to hand in, but right now it feels like everything ends tonight.

This past month has been a lot of waiting and a lot of writing. I wrote out a list of everything I've written in the past ten months and although I didn’t count the words specifically, the amount of work is truly epic: 8 short stories, 19 poems, 2 children’s chapter books, 2 novels (1st drafts completed), and one started. 

Further, I’ve won 2 awards, 1 grant and have 3 publishing credits forthcoming. I can’t even begin to say what I have learned in this past year, it too is an epic amount, suffice to say, that I feel like a writer.

A real writer.

Now I see the world differently, I look forward to quiet mornings with my keyboard for company and I see an honoured value in every one of my million rejection letters.

I’m changed, and I write better words now.

What I’m working on right now

I’m working on the aforementioned final projects, as well as preparing for my first big out of town art show, so things are a bit hectic right now. And of course, as is part of my MO, when I am this busy it seems like I am also at my most creative and words are spilling out of me daily like a breaking dam.

I have also submitted to one contest, one podcast, two art journals and a few other calls. I’ve had one rejection, or rather, didn’t make the long list, but on the same day did find out that I was accepted into The North Shore Authors Collection, where my two children’s books will be promoted for the next year at our three local libraries. (I am so grateful to live in such a supportive community!).

In my spare time I am cruising the big 5 publishers in preparation for pitching at the Whistler Writer’s Fest this fall and I-am-so-excited:-)

I can’t wait to see what happens next! See you in July!

What I’m currently reading:

Milkman by Burns
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Lamot
A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Elliott
Making Native Space by Harris

May 2019

Inside The Writer’s Studio 

We’re coming up on the end of our school year and I am feeling torn. Sad because I will miss it all so much, but also very excited to be doing more writing.

I have written so many words since last September now they just need to be organized so I can begin revisions. 

Last month I had lots of rejections, which is a bit sad but also makes me feel good to know that I am submitting a lot of work. I did get one nice acceptance online, and one hard copy Anthology for 2020, and I was also the Guest Illustrator for Up the Staircase Art and Poetry Magazine this month!!

I also had some really crappy stuff happen, one thing I won’t talk about because I have moved on, but it was a writer’s sort of worst nightmare, and the second thing was my laptop terminally crashing! Thankfully I had just backed up and even though it was tough sharing one computer in our house for 7 days, it was only for seven days. I’m now sitting here in front of my new machine and although I miss my old one, this works so I’m happy!:-)

What I’m working on right now

Sadly I can no longer tell you exactly what I’m working on, but please ask if you are interested! I have two books of short stories, one illustrated (by me!) YA book, and two books of creative non-fiction on the go. Sometimes things come together in such a beautiful way, and that is how I’m feeling about some of my projects. Yay!

I finished Camp NaNoWriMo and it was awesome, I made some new friends who sent me some beautiful camp care packages!

I should also be hearing back mid-month about one contest and one anthology submission. I think whichever I don’t get I will submit to my school journal ‘Emerge 19’ in June. It’s an exciting time!

APRIL 2019

Inside The Writer’s Studio

Spring break for me meant catching up on art stuff and doing contracts and show prep. I did manage to get some writing in and a few things submitted though.

I was unsuccessful for the Malahat long poetry prize, but now I have 12 poems to send around! I am thinking they may head over to the Harvard Advocate. I was however, successful with my art submission to The Tulane Review and I will be featured in the spring issue! Not writing, but still a lit journal:-)

I will also have a bit of featured writing coming up in Yoko Ono’s “ARISING – LIBERTÉ CONQUÉRANTE/GROWING FREEDOM. THE INSTRUCTIONS OF YOKO ONO AND THE ART OF JOHN AND YOKO.“ at the FONDATION PHI POUR L’ART CONTEMPORAIN in Montreal from April 25th to September 15th. So that is off the charts cool!

I’ve also submitted 3 pieces over the break, one poem and two short stories.

What I’m working on right now.

April means Camp NaNoWriMo and I am all tucked cozily in my cabin with three of my school cohort. It’s going to be fun and I’ll be working on my biggest short story ever. I’ve been making notes about how to address a few issues since its first draft about 20 years ago, so I look forward to jumping in!

This week at school we’re going to be discussing the ‘rupture’ (which I kept reading that as ‘rapture’ - whole other ball game!), which is where your work just kind of falls apart and you need to take it in another direction. I have experienced this a lot in painting, so I’m interested to hear what others have to say. And then I think the rest of the month is publishing - yay!

I should also hear back about my Access Copyright Research Grant application this month - all fingers crossed please!:-)

MARCH 2019

Inside The Writer’s Studio

I just signed on for the Women in Publishing Summit happening from the 4th to the 8th of March, because I guess some part of me felt that I could shove one more thing into my brain right now! I am looking forward to it though, Eileen Cook suggested it to us.

Last month I sent a submission to the CBC Non-Fiction contest, some art to the Tulane Review and received two rejections; one poem and one short story. By the end of this month, the Malahat Review Long Poem Contest should be publishing the names of the short listed poets. I re-read mine yesterday and I’m still so happy with it, and I think that’s what counts here. I wanted to write a 12 page poem and I did (Thanks for the inspiration again Kayla!). I also received my membership to Access Copyright and joined the Federation of Canadian Writers.

Last month we also started a second writers group, made up of some of the members of our school cohort. Now that we have done it, I sort of wish we had waited until after July because it feels sort of messy and overlapping, but on the other hand, I think we did need to ‘strike while the iron was hot’, and get into the habit of doing this without the help of our Mentor. 

I have sent in another grant application, if I get this one I can really get my hands into more book research. Right now I am at that part when there is so much information sloshing around in my head that I am waiting for it all to settle down. Then comes the exciting part, when an idea will spark and I’ll be off down the writing rabbit hole. I can’t wait!

What I’m working on right now.

In class right now we’re studying Intellectual Property & Copyright with the amazing Renee Sarojini Saklika. It’s so interesting, people are asking some great questions!

I’m currently writing a short story for a call at Caitlin Press, as well as revising a few short stories for lit mag submissions.

I’m researching daily and have a huge stack of books that sits beside me, mostly for company right now, but I’ll have to crack them soon. I should have more time now that two of my big art exhibits have begun and the stress of preparing them is over.

I’m excited about my mentor meeting with Stella on Monday!


Inside The Writer’s Studio

This week I received two rejection letters.

When I was young this would have crushed me, but now I celebrate it because it means a) I am writing and sending tons of work out into the world b) I can write and send tons of work out into the world and c) there are some people that still care enough (or are organized enough) to send out something to say you are rejected.

I find it much more crushing to feel the lack of kindness that is attached to the ‘silent rejection’, where you are just left wondering - forever, and while I know I make excuses for some places and people by saying ‘maybe they just aren’t that organized yet’, the truth is, that they may not care, and THAT my friend, is crushing.

So why have people think badly of you and put all that bad juju into the universe? Set up your system correctly from the start, set up an auto-responder - it takes mere seconds to do. And if you are already inundated with no time to set up a new system, I’m asking you to please make time, because it is a big deal for us to send you our children and yes we do - sit and wait to hear back from you, mark off days on our calendars and become blue if we never hear a word. It’s discouraging at best.

It’s just a kindness, a nicety that goes a long way and you will feel better for having done it. 

Trust me.

What I’m working on right now.

And in other news, February 1st marks the end of our cross-genre work and we are into IP & Copyright, which I am looking forward to, because I think there is a cross-over here into the art world and I have just had an issue with design theft, where I did have to send out a cease and desist letter.

I am heavily into my research and work on Talking with Grandmothers and have cast my net wide, hoping to gather any information I can. Chelsea (Horton) also begins her search at the Royal BC Museum Archives this month, so it’s all pretty exciting.

I’ve connected with two amazing people, author Kay Johnston (The Amazing Mazie Baker) and Cease Wyss who I seem to have a lot in common with. 

I have finished some rudimentary revisions in June and am starting to send query letters to agents, as I was so inspired by Eileen Cook’s seminar last week.

Bring on the rejections, I welcome them:-)


Inside The Writer’s Studio 

Some of you may know that I have been in the Simon Fraser University Writer’s Studio since last September. I applied for this program because I felt it was time and my writing which was sitting in a box in a dark closet was now ripe enough to be eaten. But in order for it to be eaten, it must first be prepared properly and I had no idea where to begin.

Sort of like having blowfish for dinner, with no idea where to put your fork.

Although I have been writing my entire life, and have been published in many different places, I wanted to get serious and do this thing right. I want to find an agent and a publisher, I want to be a mainstream writer, one that makes the CBC ‘best of’ list. It’s a tall order, and a lot of pressure that I’ve put on my paintbrush wielding self. But here I am, and I’m giving it everything. Yes Luke, I’m all in.

What I’m working on right now.

The group I am in at TWS is the Fiction-Personal Memoirs cohort with Mentor Stella Harvey. I am currently working on my creative non-fiction book entitled “Letters To June”. I was nearly finished, but when I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this past November, I finally did finish it, after almost forty years. I am currently working on revisions and starting to think about agents and publishers.

During the course of this program, we all take one month and crossover to another genre. I feel very fortunate here, to be spending my January writing and learning about poetry with Mentor Kayla Czaga. Poetry was my first love, and that is probably why I have written so many songs. Once in a while a poem does still erupt, but this month I am writing loads of them and loving it.

I have come a long way (I hope) from: “Dune buggy, dune buggy I love you so...”, written around the age of 10 while heavily crushing on the Beach Boys.

The two poems I am working on this week are: ‘Stitches’ and ‘Eco....’. I will post them both along with any other as soon as I can. I may submit them somewhere, so need to ensure that they can be posted. If not, well, you’ll just have to wait.

*Update, you will have to wait, as I have entered the Malahat Review’s Long Poem Contest including one of the above poems - not sure why, I guess my brain just opened up during this month and I ended up writing a 12 page series including one of the above. It was a really awesome experience, I love pushing myself way outside of my boundaries!

I also just began one called ‘Pudge’, this one I may gift to you once it’s complete.

Other bits I am working on include

a novella length book, which I also finished during NaNo, called “The Last Stupid Thing I’ll Do”. 

My book of short stories is probably near to being full, I have massive revisions to do and thank goddy god for my amazing cohort, who have collectively given me probably the best advice of anyone in my life, ever. 

I have been working on this one since the late 90’s and also finished it during NaNo. (Basically NaNoWriMo was insane, I completed so much writing and I needed nearly an entire month for my mind to settle down).

I am also working on another creative non-fiction book about my family and the history of Vancouver. I am so honoured and grateful for receiving the Friends of the British Columbia Archives Indigenous Research Grant to help with the research.

On the same theme, I should note that last October (2018) I was intervewed by

Alex de Boer Podcast Coordinator, CiTR 101.9 FM

for a story on the descendents of Stanley Park Families, and we recetly heard back that the CBC is keen on producing it for 

The Doc Project

This is pretty exciting as well, though I will probably only play a small part. For the interview I read my recent ROOM essay; “In The Bentwood Box”. I was nervous, but Alex made it quite relaxed, so it was fun.

In my other world I am still learning how to balance painting and writing, or rather the business of art with writing, because planning exhibits and contracts etc. takes so much time, but I’m getting there. I am booked for 2019 and just waiting to book 2020 shows now. With any luck I will fill my calendar quickly so I can focus solely on writing for a while.

These are all of my plans big and small. One thing I have learned though, is that plans can change and we need to be flexible. So like Gumby, I wait to see what will happen next.

What I’m currently reading:

The Little Prince by St Exupery
No Time To Spare by Le Guin
On Writing by King
The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul 
by Adams
Braiding Sweetgrass by Kimmerer
Blueberries For Sal by McCloskey

How do you do. My name is Jenn Ashton and I would like to tell you about my writing.

Copyright @2023 JennAshton contact me @raveonstudio