Maria Shriver's Fall Reading Club

I'm very honoured that Michelle Chahine has selected Rumi and the Red Handbag as one of the Fall Reading Club choices on Maria Shriver's website. 

There are, in fact, book club questions for the novel, and I'll be posting those soon, as will my publisher on her site.

I can tell you that when you publish a quirky-sweet book with an incredible but small press in Canada, you really don't expect to end up on a 49th Shelf list, let alone a Harper's Bazaar list, and certainly not on a reading club list on Maria Shriver's website. 

It's a gift, a pure gift, that I know. But in all honesty, and maybe as someone who is better "known" as a poet and essayist, it's been a lot to take in. I wrote an email to a very good friend of mine, Kimmy Beach, saying, I don't really know how to process this. And her response to me was this: "Bask. Dream. Glow. Drink wine. Go out for an expensive meal. If there is one thing we know about this life we've chosen, it's that it's transitory. Love it. Enjoy it. Revel in it. Celebrate it with your family."

So for now I'm, feeling grateful for all this lovely notice, and for the advice of wise friends. 

Audreys Launch

On Wednesday evening, I launched Rumi and the Red Handbag in my hometown (Edmonton) at our wonderful independent bookstore, Audreys. It's a short book, a slim volume, and I have to admit seeing a stack of them really was a thrill. There had been a little bit of a worry that the books wouldn't arrive on time, but they did. Then there were my usual pre-launch jitter worries: what if no one comes, what if I freeze up, what if no one buys the book....etc. But SO many people came, and apparently I did not freeze up. In fact, I've been told I was funny, which honestly sort of surprised me. Also, the room was packed, every seat taken, people standing, and people sitting on the stairs. I couldn't have asked for a better launching. I signed books for an hour. I got to see some of my nearest and dearest friends, and some I've not seen for ages. What a delight. 

Another wonderful surprise: all the flowers I received. Roses, lilies and more roses. 

I didn't take my camera, as I didn't want to have to keep track of it, but lots of people kindly took cell phone shots and posted all sorts of sweet stuff on Twitter

My good friend Kimmy Beach, took this next one. 

Afterwards, we went home and I drank a glass (or two) of wine, read all the lovely messages people were sending, and posting. I eventually went to bed and read someone else's book for a while and probably didn't fall asleep until 2am. Because that's what it's like after a public speaking moment  when you're a classic introvert. 

Printer's Copy

On Friday, I came home from work to my book (the printer's copy sent by my publisher) and to a nice bottle of pro secco, which Rob had dashed out to buy after he picked up the mail. 

It was too dark to take a photo until the next day, so we have to settle for some tea and cookies. (The mugs are the ones from the Museum of Bags and Purses, again). 

I love the way the book feels. It's glossy but not too glossy. The typesetting is lovely, easy to read. What's funny is that even though I very well know it's not a long book, it was surprising to see how slim it ends up being. This is just because I've been used to working with the huge slug of paper that was the manuscript. The book should arrive next week at the bookstore for my launch on October 14th, and soon will be sent out hither and thither. 

Am I nervous? Oh, yes! But a little less so now that I have the book in my hands.

On Saturday Rob and Chloe went out to the art store to buy supplies, and I took the opportunity to read a few passages out to the dog. He seemed to like what he heard. 



When we were in Amsterdam in 2011, our daughter was 12 years old, and although she very much wanted to see the museums, having been brought up as an 'art kid' I suppose you could say, she also wanted to visit the zoo. There are sculptures throughout the zoo, and there is also a Japanese garden, and at the time we were there, the place had been yarn bombed. 

Yesterday was a pretty fun day for me because I found out Rumi and the Red Handbag had rather magically and miraculously ended up on Harper’s Bazaar's #TheList: 15 Books for Fall. Earlier, the book had landed on 49th Shelf's list: Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2015 Fiction Preview

This morning, my publisher wrote to say that thanks to the Harper's Bazaar list, my book has been ordered into bookstores in Canadian airports. Well, needless to say, none of this sort of stuff usually happens to poets, which I have mainly been up until now. And, I mean, the book hasn't even come out yet, and I haven't gotten a copy so far myself. (Soon, though, soon). 

So, yesterday, admittedly, I was flying around high for a little bit. Okay, for most of the day. But today, it's back to life as usual. You know, sweeping the endless dog hair from the floor, trying to figure out what's for dinner, answering emails, organizing all the things, or attempting to and mostly failing. I've experienced enough of the usual writers' humiliations that I know to enjoy these lovely and random bits of good luck. But I also know that the way through this literary life is to neither become too excited by the good bits, nor too despondent about the bad stuff. Which is not to say you shouldn't feel all the feels, but just to remember that it's all ebb and flow, ebb and flow. 

Anyway, I suppose yesterday I felt a bit like the yarn bombed buddha, colourful and exposed, and today I'm feeling more myself, or at least making my way back to being centred. 

Second Print Run

In February of 2011, I somehow convinced my husband and daughter to take a trip with me to Amsterdam to visit the Museum of Bags and Purses. I was working at the public library part time, and I was also teaching a creative writing class at the university because the professor who'd been scheduled was suddenly unable to, and so I was pinch-hitting. It was reading week, and the teaching meant I had a few extra dollars. At this time, I'd written about half of my novel, Rumi and the Red Handbag, and it seemed important to see the museum. In truth, I don't think the book would be what it is without my having been there. 

We visited the museum twice, stayed for tea, and bought up all the sweet souvenirs in their shop (including the mug you see in the photo above). We wandered the nearby streets, I took photos of the canal, and we sat on the bench at the end of the street the museum is on, and just hung out, soaking it all in. Of course, we also visited the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh museum, and many other museums in Amsterdam. As well, we took a day trip to The Hague to visit Rob's cousin who was living there at the time, and to see Vermeer's Girl with the Pearl Earring at the Mauritshuis

Flash forward to the end of September, 2015. The official release date of my book is mid-October, but I just heard yesterday from my wonderful publisher, Palimpsest Press, that the book is already going into a second printing, based on pre-orders. Obviously, a lot has happened since that visit to Amsterdam four and a half years ago to bring me to this rather lovely place right now. I haven't seen the book yet, though I'll probably get a 'printer's copy' within the next week. 

And the book has yet to be properly launched. The Edmonton launch is on Wednesday, October 14th at 7pm at Audreys Books. I'll also be in Calgary at Pages on Kensington on October 24th, Saturday afternoon, at 2pm. 

As for right this very second, I'm in that happy place that an author gets to inhabit before a book is released. All the hard work is done. The edits are finished, the cover has been designed, the acknowledgements have been written, the proofs approved. But no one has read the book besides a select few. The book is still just mine for a few more weeks. The characters are still mine. And yet, I can't wait for you to meet Shaya and Ingrid-Simone.