Monday, 30 December 2013

Hipster Word of the Week – Dealate

I hope you will tame the cacogen in you and enjoy this festive season.  This week's hipster word is the last of the series.  With the new year, ATUA will present your with a new theme!  Don't miss it!


v. rob or divest of wings.

Oh God!  I think that Mitch up there in the tree, dealating that angel!

Your turn!  Leave your sentence in the comment section.

Source: Luciferous logolepsy

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Review Wednesday – A Bouquet of Dilemma

Young conservative Tobi will soon be attending university, yet she's never been in love.  That is, until she meets Richard, a dashing carefree man with a tumultuous past who is about to turn her world upside down.  Their love story is Hollywood worthy until Richard leaves for London in the hopes of bettering his situation.  Promises are exchanged but despite Tobi's efforts, it soon becomes clear that Richie boy is not coming back home.  Time is running out for our heroin; she needs to find a husband before she graduates.  With the help of her best friend Maggie, she soon finds herself in another man's arms.  Little does she know that her real troubles are only about to start.

A Bouquet of Dilemma by Tayo Emmanuel would be very similar to many romance novels were it not for its amazing setting: early 90s Nigeria.  Through Tobi's story, the reader gets to experience a culture of which very little is known, especially to North Americans.  It also it contributes to show that despite the many differences found in the political, financial and cultural context, young women have similar aspirations.  I learned many things about Nigeria in this novel, and it has made me want to learn more.

The writing style is very light and reflects well the main character's personality through her evolution.   Speaking of characters, Emmanuel has managed to create a wide range of them, each and every single one of them having its own personality.  I found all of them very credible and could not help but like them despite their flaws.  They were very human. As for setting, the author skillfully uses concise description to bring this faraway land to life in the mind of the reader.  It truly made me want to visit Nigeria.

A Bouquet of Dilemma is a light reading, one in which the reader can easily identify with the characters and intensely feel their emotions.  If you enjoy romance novels, I would strongly recommend it.  Even if it's only to find one that is set at a time when people didn't have cellphones... and in Tobi's case, not even a landline!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Hipster Word of the Week – Cacogen

Don't make too many bantling; alimony is not something you want to have to deal with.  This week, a word for the solitary inner hipster.


n. - an anti-social person

Matt is such a cacogen.  Seriously, there's a limit to being underground!

Your turn!  Leave your sentence in the comment section!

Source: Luciferous logolepsy

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Sunday Special - The Mother Lode Manifesto

In recent years, women have been more active and successful in the business sphere than at any other time in history.  However growing, their numbers are still small compared to men's.  Why is that?  Simple.  Because women have been trying to emulate men rather than create businesses that truly reflect them.  As a result, the Superwoman complex has emerged.  Women expect to perform like men while still managing to take care of their families like a homemake.  Needless to say that is very demanding and nearly impossible.  Many women know this and would rather give up on a dream than neglect their family.  If they only knew that they've been doing it wrong...  Luckily, The Mother Lode Manifesto by Margie J. Baldock is here!

With its revolutionnary call to action, this book aims to help women create personnal, financial independance through social entrepreneursip.  This comprehensive guide helps the reader understand the orgins of the current female mindset about finances and offers concrete solutions for women to destroy those misconceptions.  Margie's step by step master plan effectively leads readers to take action and built realistic business plans tailored to their needs.  One great feature of The Mother Lode Manifesto is that it offers financial strategies for all levels, so that people starting on this journey may benefit from it as much as people looking for the next step.

Through her book, Balbock wants to make women realize that despite what they've been raised to believe, they have more financial power than they think and are as able as men, even more in some area.  But most importantly, she stresses the fact that being financially indepedant and self-sufficient is not about women surpassing men, it's about being equal.  Both men and women will benefit from this equality, and most likely the planet, too, in the long run.

The Mother Lode Manifesto is very well structured, its content well organized.  The reader is constantly sollicited through calls to action, making it easy to used the imparted knowledged.  The provided worksheet are also extremely useful.  I particularly enjoyed the key point lists at the end of each chapters; these summarized versions of the chapter contents could easily be used as reminders, something to stick on the frigde for easy access. 
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the book and it had me mull over a few business ideas of mine, the is one thing I would change.  This book is targeting mothers, yet I believe its content could benefit all women.  As I don't have children myself, I probably wouldn't have picked up this book had it not been given to me.  This is sad, because Buldock really has much to offer to women out there.

Mother or not, I strongly recommend women pick up this book.  You might be sitting on a million dollar idea, who knows? 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Author Interview Series – Kenneth Radu

Today I have the pleasure of hosting fiction author Kenneth Radu.  I met Mr Radu at the first reading I event went to.  His stories were amazing.  After the reading, he was kind enough to answer my question but also to ask me a few questions about my own writing.  I feel honored that he accepted to be featured on ATUA.

 Would you say you’ve always been a writer or that it’s something that came later in life? Do you remember the first story you wrote?

Before learning how to write connected prose, I do remember imagining stories or vivid scenarios as a young child walking to and from school and during periods of play. A pretty consistent phenomenon, but not one peculiar to nascent writers as most children live as much in their imagination as they do in actuality. Why some continue beyond that age to immerse themselves in extended fabrications, or jot down notes for narratives, or create fictional people, thereby acquiring or claiming some sort of distinction by virtue of being a writer, is anybody’s guess. Once I entered secondary school writing became an integral part of my day. My first stories were written at that time, including two bloated and derivative novels before I was eighteen, plays, poems and short stories, all more or less copying the writers I was reading as an adolescent. I read omnivorously in all genres. I can’t remember the name of my first story, although one play was called The Locked Gate, a heavy-handed and implausible mix of Eugene O’Neill and Chekhovian drama. There was a coffin on stage for the duration of the performance, and the characters lamented existentially and tragically about its occupant and their own unsatisfactory lives. The play was performed on stage and entered in a local drama festival where it won a prize. I have never stopped writing since then.

At what point did you decide to make a living from your writing?

Well, like many writers I have never made a living from writing. It is something I do, but not something that has paid for my keep. There are writers who made a conscious decision to live by the pen, and have done and do so successfully. I think of Mavis Gallant or Mordecai Richler, or Charles Dickens, and various contemporary novelists and freelance journalists here and elsewhere who earn their living as writers, but their numbers are not legion. It wasn’t something I really thought about. In my last year of high school, I did make a conscious decision, however, to live a life of literature; that is to say allowing literature to help me decide what was important to me and how I would make money, if not directly through my own writing, then in a related field like teaching. 

Throughout your career, you’ve written novels, short stories and poetry.  Is there a genre that comes more naturally to you? 
Poetry has this mysterious allure for the young who almost universally write poems, usually lyrics, as if the genre itself is closer to how they feel and think. I wrote poems then and throughout most of my writing career until I stopped several years ago. I’m not sure what it means to say “a genre that comes more naturally to you,” as I believe that poetry is arguably the most “natural” of all genres, but it is not something I write anymore, finding more satisfaction in the artifice of fiction and sometimes non-fiction, including essays about art that appeals to me. As for novels and short stories, subject matter, character, situation and sense of completion determine my answer to what comes more naturally. The idea or story also determines the genre. A short story is a magnificent challenge: to achieve much in little space or run the risk of saying less than meets the eye, but the novel allows for development, expansiveness, and is more forgiving. 

And is that the genre you also prefer reading?

If I had to make a choice with a gun pointed at my head, I’d choose the short story, although I read novels and non-fiction regularly and with pleasure. By non-fiction I mean histories, biographies, essays, or creative journalism, some literary criticism, and now and then philosophy. Non-fiction is such an odd term really. Sometimes I think we should take a lesson from the French and refer to non-fiction collectively as Essais et documents, but it sounds rather too archival and technical in English. Of course, I read poetry also even though I stopped writing it. 

Are you working on a new project at the moment?  Can you give us the scoop as to what it is?
I am always working on something because writing is what I do on a daily basis. I have recently completed and revised a novel. As I write the answer this question, it is being copy-edited and prepared for forthcoming publication in 2014. 

Painter Chuck Close Once said, "Inspiration is for amateurs - the rest of us just shows up and gets to work." How do you "get to work?" Do you have any ritual or specific requirements to get the juices flowing?

I have tried to avoid writing rituals as I find them somewhat restrictive. For a while, I wrote in the morning but have broken that time pattern and now write during various periods of the day and evening. Inspiration comes and goes, if by that one means a sudden revelation or uncontrollable urge to write a poem or story. Like Chuck Close, I don’t require inspiration. I sit down and write. The act of writing inspires itself, and indeed “inspire” may be too inflated a concept, too romantic for my taste. The work is always present, always in my mind, and the passion for writing is endless. The creative process can be deeply complicated and subtle. Oh yes, often I write to music of a certain kind, and enjoy a tea break during an afternoon of writing. I don’t know if that can be considered ritualistic.

What is the one advice you would like to share with aspiring writers?

Read, read, read. Read widely, read much. 

Our previous guest, architectural photographer Parham Yazdi, would like to ask you the following question: What are the steps of writing a fiction book? Do you just imagine the events as you go or do you plan first and write next?  
If there are steps they don’t follow any logical sequence. I begin the day with breakfast and then write. Or, depending upon season and weather, go outside to putter about the gardens and write later. Other matters claim one’s attention as well. I don’t live in a vacuum or cork lined room. The ending of novel may occur to me before the middle. An idea might have been lying dormant for months, longer even, before I write it down into something resembling coherence. I don’t map out stories or novels until after the first draft which allows me to see what I’ve been doing more clearly. With essays I prefer to get a draft down quickly in one sitting, writing as many as 2000 words or more before I stop, and then let it gestate for a time. Events and characters in my fiction emerge from what I’ve already written, and not from what I have predetermined. There is no preliminary chart. A book is a major endeavour, and one always carries it in one’s head, so ideas connected with what the book or story is about arise in the course of washing dishes or baking bread or driving to an appointment. If suitable, I pursue them by writing and out of that writing session more events develop which leads to more writing, until I’ve produced a presentable draft in a week, a month, a year: however long it takes. And so it goes. 

Our next guest will be Tania Mignaca, a graphic designer who is fast becoming popular with her unofficial Montreal mascot, Ponto.  What would you like to ask her?

Looking through your online portfolio, I would ask what elements or aspects of Japanese art, traditional or modern, most influence your own work.

See a review of Kenneth Radu's lastest short story collection, Earthbound.

Are you an author? Would you like me to interview you? Drop me a line at  It will be my pleasure to showcase your work!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Review Wednesday – Darkness and the Radiance of Neamh

Edmund thought his problems were over when he finally died after surviving by ghastly means an apocalyptic epidemic of influenza.  He couldn't have been more wrong.  ASA, a super computer with artificial consciousness, has decided to bring him back to help her expand to all known universes.  After killing himself thirty times and being revived as many times (much to his annoyance), he decides to accept ASA's offer.  His mission will take him on an adventure fraught with danger and rich in new discoveries.  Soon, the lines between right and wrong will blur, leaving him no choice but to trust his own instincts.

Darkness and the Radiance of Neamh immediately pulled me in and didn't let go until the last page.  Griffin has a great ability to divulge just enough information to make the reader want to know more.  I often found myself thinking "One more chapter" when I was already way past my bedtime.  What's great about this book is that although I hadn't read the first one of this series, Darkness, I still didn't have any problem following the story.

What is most impressive about this novel is the setting.  Griffin juggles multiple universes with the ease of a professional juggler.  The reader moves from one to the other without ever feeling confused or lost.  The author also manages the same feat with a non-linear narrative that takes the reader back and forth in time with clarity. This could have contributed to muddying the story but Griffin pulls it off with brio.  Another great element of this book is characterization.  Edmund, Aine and Troy (more to come about him) are very lovable but Griffin also managed to create a villain – the Emissary – the reader can empathize with.  We're not dealing with a stereotypical bad guy here.  I quite liked the Emissary and look forward to see how things will play out between Edmund and him in the sequel.  (Hopefully Gridding is writing one because I need to know what's going to happen!)

Lastly, I need to talk about two things that immediately made me love this book.  The first one is Troy the android.  What I liked about him was the fact that his excuse for doing anything weird was that he was Canadian.  What was even better is that it worked.  I'm going to have to try that in the future.  The second one was the library in Eire.  What is there not to like about a library so big you might never be able to explore it completely in one lifetime.  The fact that the librarians are also the most revered and powerful people in their realm also won my heart.

Darkness and the Radiance of Neamh is a great read.  I strongly recommend it.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Wild Writers Literary Festival Series – From literary journal to small press success

Here is the third installment of the Wild Writers Literary Festival Series.  Missed the previous ones?  Check them out!  #1 #2.

This panel was moderated by Carrie Snyder and included panelists Nancy Jo Cullen (Canary), Elisabeth de Mariaffi (How to Get Along with Women), Colette Maitland (Keeping the Peace) and Claire Tacon (In the Field).

CS:  I would like to hear you talk about your work process, themes and obsessions for you books.

EdM: The elaboration of my book, How to Get Along with Women, was like a moving camera shooting the same scene over and over until it changed completely.  It was written in two years and tells stories of power.  The relationships are different, but they're always about power.

NJC:  The stories in Canary were written without a thought about their connections.  They are stories about intimate relationships that veer off, about bad decisions and how they affect our lives and also about addictions.  They explore how we hold everything together through disaster.

CM:  Keeping the Peace was written over a long period of time with an arc going through the short stories.  It's as if an older version of me wrote those stories.  I had no idea what the theme was until I presented the book to an editor.  It is about trying to find peace in a family context.

CT:  In the Field circles back to family and family dynamics.  It explores what is the product of chance (the family in which one is born) and intention (decisions we take as we get older).  It explores the different experiences siblings have although they belong to the same family.

CM: The place in the story is important. I like to think of how important it is to the people who live there. I love small details.  I like to look at situations and think of all the details that should be there. If the people in the town I talk about in the book don't like it, they haven't told me. Every time I sit down to write, I reread the entire piece and edit.  I don't always know how it's going to go but details help me move the piece forward.  I don't want to work with a plot; I enjoy working with the characters.  I also like to wait until I can't not write.

NJC: The place is the West in my book, but time is more important.

CT: I grew up grounded.  My parents were refugees from Eastern Europe.  I had a family with a strong narrative about people I had no access to.  We did a lot of travelling, which is probably why my characters move around a lot and never find a home

I'm drawn to the insider vs outsider theme and I like to write about it.  I'm interested in  how the outside defines the inside.
CS: Could you tell us about your career development?

NJC: There is a big difference between publishing poetry and short fiction.  Poetry launches are smaller and much more private.  When publishing a work of fiction, it<s much more public and there are more event.  I felt very exposed, almost panicked.  I got more stress from all the attention.

EdM:  Being listed for the Giller Prize was positively overwhelming.  It truly was the last thing I would have expected.  I got a lot of attention which sped up the process for my next project.

CM: I have always written.  I got my first typewriter at thirteen and wrote until I got one of my stories rejected when I was in University.  Having kids also prevented me from writing.  Eventually I decided to stay at home and give myself permission to write.  It took me about two years to write this book.  One day I was on the high way and I saw this woman by the side of the road; she was the start of everything.  I needed to write her story.  I gave myself a time frame and started writing, 

I took some class but I write intuitively, it's a very organic process.  I keep on writing what I wand and on sending stuff out.

CT:  I wrote shorter fiction at first.  It was difficult to transition to longer pieces and I learned while writing.  Rejection is an amazing push.  I was first drawn to theater but rejection moved me to fiction. This time, for my second book, I'm doing it with more of a map.

NJC: Rejection happens; you have to be strong.  People will not all love what you write.  You have to believe in your vision and trust it.  You have to learn that you can survive rejection.  You just need to try to understand if there's something you need to change.

EdM: It would have been overwhelming for me to start with a novel.  The order for me is poetry-short story-novel.  You have to work quietly and experience rejection and work on yourself.  To build confidence, you have to know what your obsessions are and write about them.

NJC: Short stories and novel don't have the same structure.  Short stories are easier to navigate.

CS:  How  do you know when a piece is good to go?

CM:  I make it as good as I can and let it go.  You HAVE to send it.  Don't take rejections too personal.  If you're sick of your piece, set it aside and go back to it later.  Work on it, and send it again. 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Hipster Word of the Week – Bantling

Is that a new wig?  You shouldn't try to conceil your acomia!  Anyway, more shame this week as we learn about your inner hipster's dark past.


n. - brat; illegitimate child.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm not Steve Job's bantling. 

Your turn!  Leave your sentence in the comment section!

Source: Luciferous logolepsy

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Wednesday Review – Learn to Tie a Tie with the Rabbit & The Fox

I don't usually review children's books because I don't have children and thus don't usually have the opportunity to read that kind of literature.  So when author Sybrina Durant gave me the opportunity to review hers, I was delighted.

Learn to Tie a Tie with the Rabbit & the Fox is a cute story that teaches kids – you will have guessed – how to tie a tie through the Native American lore of the Rabbit and the Fox. The instruction are very well integrated to the tale, as a result, it flows naturally.  Thanks to this, I think the book has twice as much potential to attract children's attention, firstly with the engaging story (Will the rabbit escape?!) and secondly through the call to action (I want to try tying a tie! As a bonus, after reading the story to your kid, you can entertain them with the video version and teach them to sing along.

At first, I wondered if the language wasn't a bit too complex for children but then again, the colourful pictures are there to support the content.  Also, it's never too late to give children a rich vocabulary. 

With Christmas just around the corner, why not help Santa and give your little loved ones a story that will teach them something in a fun way?

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go find a tie...

This is a paid review for Sybrina Durant. I am not associated with the author and will not make any commission off the sales of her book.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Wild Writers Literary Festival – Making the Most of your Blog

This week I bring you the second installment of the Wild Writer Literay Festival Series.  Missed the first one?  No problem! Follow the link.

"You don't need a blog..." the first thing Kerry Clare, professional blogger for Canadian Books website 49th Shelf, said when she began her workshop. Which was strange, since she was there to talk about blogging. She explained. Of course, blogs are a great way to express yourself, talk about your personal experiences, network, build a platform, etc.  But despite what editors and publishers would like you to believe, blogs are not a necessity.

Clare believes that reading is a transaction between two people and proceeds to prove it by having the workshop's participants talk to their neighbors about book they're currently reading.  Immediately, the room started buzzing with energy.  And this is what blogging is about; it's about sharing your passion.

During the workshop, Clare went on to say that blogging wasn't easy and that it required commitment.  However, blogs are more personal and you should not try desperately to build a platform through it.  It's important to be yourself.  As for the content, no need to obsess over it.  A blog is a work in progress and problems can always be smoothed later.

For the authors who want a blog (or need to want one because of their editors), Clare suggests talking about the following:
  • research that didn't make it to the book
  • the characters themselves
  • places that inspired the book (with pictures!)
  • writing (from a position of authority.
 However, her most important advice was to "Blog like no one is looking."  D
o it for yourself.  If you build it, they will come.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Hipster Word of the Week – Acomia

Last week's word was so underground you probably weren't able to use it.  This week, a disaster for our male inner hipster.


n. - baldness.

Have you seen Jeff latety?  His acomia has taken a turn for the worse. 

Your turn!  Leave your sentence in the comment section.

Source: Luciferous logolepsy

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Dreamers Interview Series – Parham Yazdy

This week ATUA is hosting Parham Yazdy, photographer extraordinaire.  Parham mainly does architectural photography.  You can see his stunning shots on his website.

Parham, you're the owner at Parham Yazdy Photography. Tell us a bit more about what you do. 

I do architectural photography and I'm also interested in travel, landscape and event photography. I've been in love with photography for  over 15 years.  When I finally studied commercial photography, it became my specialty.  I've been in a business for a few years.

Has photography always been a passion? Do you remember the first camera you received/bought?  
Photography became a passion for me at the first sight ! I fell in love with it when I was 14 and it forever remained my favourite hobby. My first camera belonged to my father; it was a Russian SLR camera called Zenit EM.  It was pretty old but it had a great lens and took sharp pictures!

What do you think, aside from technique and gear, makes a good photographer? 

Photography is all about seeing the details. A photographer needs to be able to convey his message through images.

Do you have a photographer you particularly admire? Why? 

My first guru in photography was one of the most famous photographer in Iran called Nasrollah Kasraian. He is an amazing photographer who has lots of travel photography books. I've always admired his pictures and his technique.

I noticed you take a lot of landscape pictures. Is portrait something you've ever considered? 

Yes and no! On the one hand, I prefer catching the moment and it works better when I take candid shots. It's amazing to see the real side of people and the result is always amazing ! On the other hand, I found out that posed portraits are not my thing. They don't feel natural to me.

What is your next goal as a photographer?

I'd like to expand my architectural photography business. I also plan on starting teaching photography.

What advice would you give to photographers and other artists trying to make a living from their art? 

Following your passion is always worth it.  Let the customers find you!

Our previous guest, Canadian author Christine Miscione would like to ask you: Two questions: How might you design a camera for someone who has no hands? And if you could invent a new type of lens that could do anything, what would it do? 

Today with digital technology it wouldn't be very complicated to do. It could be very small camera fixed on the person's glasses; the shutter could go off by saying "click!" 

As for the lens, it could be a super macro lens which could take close ups of the texture of leaves, for example. It would need to have a good depth of field and sharpness ! 

Our next featured guest is fiction author Kenneth Radu. What would you like to ask him? 

What are the steps of writing a fiction book? Do you just imagine the events as you go or do you plan first and write next ? 

You are a dreamer and would like me to interview you?  Drop me a line at stephanie.noel.writer(at)gmail(dot)com. I love meeting passionate people!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Review Wednesday – Catching Fire

In January I reviewed The Hunger Games.  And now, to close the year, I'm reviewing Catching Fire.

Katniss and Peeta are back in District 12 after their unorthodox victory in the 74th Hunger Games.  They now live in the Victors' village making it impossible for them to pick up their lives where they left them. While Katniss tries to make sense of her feelings for Peeta and Gale, she will have to face an entire new challenge to protect the ones she loves and her district from the Capitol.  In the growing threat of the Quarter Quell, will she be able to triumph?

What worried me the most about Catching Fire was that the love triangle would take over everything and destroy the amazing world and story Collins had created in The Hunger Games.  Luckily, unlike Clare in Clockwork Prince, she managed to keep a perfect balance between the plot and the love story.  Within the context of the novel, the protagonists' reactions and emotions are believable and in character.  I rooted for Gale after the first book, but now, I'm definitely all for Peeta!

The main story itself is amazing.  Collins build nicely on her previous novel, and we realize that elements that seemed like unimportant details – the fact that the last games were the 74th, for example – have tremendous importance for the plot and how events will unfold.  With all the twists and turns, I was shocked and surprised countless times, which is something I like in a book.  The cliff-hanger at the end is so powerful that as soon as I closed the book, I went out and bought the next one.  I can't wait to read it!

I haven't seen the movie yet, as I wanted to read the book first, but I'm very excited about it now!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Wild Writers Literary Festival Series – The Rock Comes to Waterloo

Last november I had the chance to attend the TNQ's Wild Writers Literary Festival in Waterloo.  This was the second edition of the festival and I think they did an amazing job with the panels, workshop and other activities.  In the upcoming weeks, I will cover the different events I attented.

The Rock Comes to Waterloo
featuring Wayne Johnston & Donna Morissey

The opening panel for the Festival was a conversation between authors Wayne Johnston (The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, A Wolrd Elsewhere) and Donna Morrissey (Kit's Law, Downhill Chance) who both happen to be from Newfoundland.  The discussion was hosted by Craig Norris, host of the CBC radio program, The Morning Edition. Both authors discussed their latest novels, The Son of a Certain Woman and The Deception of Livvy Higgs, respectively.

CN: Is it a characteristic of Newfoundland characters to tell stories, lies or myth?

WJ:  Telling stories is the raison d'être of fiction.  It's also important to understand that myths are not meant to fool people.  Percy, the main character of my latest novel is creating his own mythology because he is bored.  He's simply compensating for the things he doesn't have at home.

CN: Donna, where do your characters come from?

DM: The elders in my life are a source of inspiration. The most inspirating person was in fact a pathological liar.  When a relationship with such a person comes to an end, it's very difficult to say what was true and what was fabricated.  This served to create Grandmother Creed's character.  She believes in her own stories, they're a way to compensate for her dark childhood, redefine who she is.

CN: What is the difference between a myth and a pathological lie?

WJ: Well Percy doesn't really expect to be believed; his stories are for entertainment.  Pathological lying is a form of psychosis.

DM: Myths aren't necessarily things that didn't happen. They don't mean lies.  They come out of human living patterns. 

WJ: It becomes a myth when it doesn't intersect with religion.

DM: Myths are pagan.

CN: Does this type of religious Newfoundland still exist?

WJ: Despite the absence of a system of denomination in education, there is still bullying and repression still exists.  Religion is very exclusive and rejects all other texts.

DM: Where I grew up, there were almost no catholics and very little repression, but maybe it's because there were very few people.  People were together, they interacted because they all needed one another.

CN: What kind of schools were around, growing up?

DM: A one-room school.

WJ: Many different schools, their students selected according to denomination.

CN: Donna, can you tell us a bit more about the technique used in your novel?

DM: As Livvy moves in and out of lucidity, she is framing her identity.  As a kid, she was pull in all directions and as an adult, she supressed whos she was.  As she goes back to the past, she tried to understand what was real and what wasn't  As an adult, her vision differs greatly.

I use Maslow's pyramid to get inside a character's thoughts.  I can determine their needs and it influences how I push the story forward.  Emotions lead me more than plot.

CN: Wayne, can you tell us a bit more about Percy and his relationship with his mother?

WJ: Pecy suffers from a form of Oedipus Complex.  Since he has no hope of having a relationship with a woman, his only option is to sleep with his mother.  While on book tour, some people have walked out on me, saying they knew where I would go when I die and that they didn't think a boy should sleep with his mother.  I'm not saying I recommend it!  What I wanted was a very tormented character faced with the authority of the church.

DM: Livvy is very vulnerable internally.  Her story is a journey of self.  We are fed the sins of our fathers and pass them on.  There can be no understanding until you know what your burden is.  Livvy inherits veryone's lies when her mother dies, which cripples her.  This story is about going back to redefine who we are.  Everyone has a story.  Everyone has wounds.

CN: What is the role of location in your stories?

WJ:  I don't know.  I don't love but I don't think the book could happen anywhere.  This setting of a recluse land and the closed society is important to the story.

DM: I wanted to write about the French part of Newfoundland.  I visited the area, actually, and decided I wanted to write about it.  I wanted to bridge the gap between Newfoundland and the mainland.  Writing is like being an engineer.  It's not all about feelings.

DJ: Many people write about St-John's but Donna is like Faulkner; she own the area she wrote about.  There is no homogenous Newfoundland; just like Canada, it's different everywhere.  The culture, the dialect, nature, it's all different.

DM: It's just a question of giving a voice to people, so they can tell the stories that need to be told.

CN: Is there a common identity for Newfoundland?

DM: Like many places, it's very different.  It's hard to put into words.

CN:  Is there symbolism involved in Percy's deformity?

WJ: I don't know if it's a symbol.  I've written in the past about boys who were put on the fast track for priesthood.  For Percy, that's the only group that will accept him because he can have no sexuality.  I wanted people to identify with Percy.  He's a scapegoat.  His mark is his deformity, just like the scarlet letter.  The church is supposed to accept people based on what they are deep inside.  It's the opposite in my novel.  This is loosely inspired by Ulysse, a novel by Joyce.

CN: Do your characters sometimes evolve differently than you had planned?

DM: In a book inpired by my family's journey, the main character (myself) soon got pushed aside by her brother whose voice became the voice of the story.

WJ: It happened to me, too.  In The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, I had to invented a character to oppose my protagonist when the book was almost finished.  I reread my books when starting a new book and I'm still surprised at my own characters.  It can be difficule to shed the skin of a previous book when starting a new one.

DM: It can be very difficult to slip in and out of writing.  The transitions are bumpy.

WJ:  It's important to feel empathy and sympathy towards my characters.  If I loathe them completely, it can't be good.

DM: You have to get to know all sides of a character.  There's something human in every monster.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Hipster Word of the Week – Zygal

Did you entertain your inner hipster, yestreen?  Today, a word seemingly useless for daily conversation.  The stuff of hipsters, no doubt.


adj. - h-shaped

Have you seen the new apple store?  It's zygal.

Your turn!  Leave your sentence in the comment question.

Source: Luciferous logolepsy

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Author Interview Series – Christine Miscione – Q&A + Giveaway winner!

I caught death last week and was unable to do anything but sleep.  I'm much better now and so I give you Christine Miscione's belated Q&A and giveaway winner!

Lori Hayes asked

Do you plan on keep writing short stories or is their a novel in the making also?

For now my heart is with short fiction, but who knows what the future has in store.

Congratulations Lori!  You win a signed copy of Auxiliary Skins!  Please contact me at stephanie.noel.writer(at) to claim your prize!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Review Wednesday – In Falling Snow

Iris is peacefully living the end of her days in Paddington Australia with her daughter and grand-children when she receives a letter from the past.  Her friend Violet, to whom she hasn't spoken in decades, is inviting her to Royaumont, France, to commemorate the old abbeye they turned into a hospital during WWI.  From this moment, we take an erratic trip to the past, voyagaging through Iris's failing memory.

In Falling Snow is the first international publication of Australian best-seller Mary Rose MacColl and what a novel it is.  From the moment I picked it up, I couldn't put it down.  I have a soft spot for wartime stories (and historical fiction in general), especially WWI tales but what makes this book special is that it doesn't concentrate on the conflict itself but on the women and the part they played in it.  We are reminded of the struggle of women who, even while they were trying to give significant help and play their part, we're underestimated and disrespected because of their sex.  Even though this is fiction, it brings an entirely different dimension the events we know from History class.  

However, the story doesn't only happen in the distant past, it also covers the present, the Australia of the seventies.  Through Grace's story, MacColl shows that despite the improvements, women are still struggling to take their rightful place in society. Not to worry, this is far from a militant feminism book.

 Aside from the extraordinary characters, what I really enjoyed from this novel is the narrative structure.  Iris is an old woman and so her memory is failing her.  She loses sense of time and place, can't recall recent event but remembers those of the past perfectly.  MacColl took advantage of this to tell her story in a non-linear way.  We constantly move back and forth in Iris's past without ever feeling confused.  To emphasis this, she intercuts Iris`s narrative with Grace's, which is clear and linear.  The structure is nothing short of brilliant.

Lastly, the ending!  I don't want to reveal anything but I have to say that it surprised me a lot.  It even brought tears to my eyes, which is a feat– the other book to have ever done so is Love in the Time of Cholera.  Just by creating that twist at the end, MacColl made her novel a hundred more times better. 

I strongly recommend this book!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Hipster Word of the Week – Yestreen

Last week, we added the word xanthic to your inner hipster chromatic vocabulary.  Today, we learn an underground word to talk about yesterday.


n. - the night before

Jill, I told you yestreen!  I will not go to the organic festival if Max is going.

Your turn!  Leave your sentence in the comment section.

Source: Luciferous logolepsy

Monday, 18 November 2013

Hipster Word of the Week – Xanthic

I see you got some pills prescribed for that witzelsucht of yours.  Good!  This week a very useful word to discuss hipster fashion. 


adj. - yellow in color

Camille's new xanthic scarve is soooo good for her complexion!

Your turn!  Leave your sentence in the comment section.

 Source: Luciferous logolepsy

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Author Interview Series – Christine Miscione

Today ATUA is proud to host Canadian author Chrisine Miscione.  Her first book, a collection of short stories titled Auxiliary Skins, was realeased in August 2013 and has been extremely well received.  I met Christine at a book launch for Norm Sibum's The Traymore Rooms and immediately connected with her.  On top of being an accomplished writer, she's one of the sweetest persons I've ever met.  A real inspiration!

Information about the giveaway will follow the interview.

Your first book, Auxiliary Skins, just came out in August 2013 and reviews are quite positive. This is no doubt the result of a lot of hard work. How much would you say you invested in the book?

I’ve never thought about it in terms of investment. Directing my effort towards the publication of a book seemed to be a natural extension of what I was already doing. That being said, the project did coincide with my enrolment in a pretty demanding University program. There were many, many months of 4:30am alarm clocks and trying to fit as much writing/editing in as I could before my 8:00am classes. But it was exciting. Truly. And it was exactly what I always want to be doing.

 Did you write most of the short stories for the book or did you edit work that had already been published?

I imagine with most writers’ first publication – especially a publication that takes on the form of a collection – there is some digging into the past in order to compile a book that feels honest and whole. Approximately half the stories in Auxiliary Skins were written before I knew about the possibility of a collection – and almost all of these were previously unpublished. With the other stories, I knew about the collection, but wouldn’t say I wrote them for it. I wrote a bunch of stories and then chose the ones that seemed to complement and make the most sense in relation to the others.

Your prose is very poetic, with vibrant decriptions, rich alliterations and vivid mataphors. Are you a poet at heart? Have you ever considered publishing poetry?

I am not a poet, no. I have written poems, none of which I’m certain are any good. If my prose style leans towards the poetic, I think it has to do with my fascination with language (it’s thrilling!) Otherwise, I am not sure my prose has any of the same concerns as poetry.

Are you currently working on a new project? A next collection of short stories, maybe?

Yes – a new short story collection. I’m hoping to amass around twenty-five stories and then trim out roughly 1/3, always with an eye for that point at which the stories together feel like a cohesive whole.

 Painter Chuck Close Once said, "Inspiration is for amateurs - the rest of us just shows up and gets to work." How do you "get to work?" Do you have any ritual or specific requirements to get the juices flowing?

I have (unconsciously) developed a regimented writing program for myself. 7:30am wake-up. Copious green tea. Tasteless oatmeal, hardboiled egg. And words. Lots of words — writing (hopefully). I spend every morning this way, regardless of anything.

What is your definition "writer"? What does it take to be one?

This is a hard question to answer. Writer is a noun from the verb to write, so naturally a writer writes. Must write. But it’s more than that. There’s a kind of integrity and love of writing and language that a writer should have. Also, a particular way of engaging with the world. ‘Writer’, though, I’ve come to learn, takes on many different forms; it’s difficult to pin down in definition. I’ll just say that it seems the writers I most admire and who most satisfy the definition in my eyes, live and breathe their craft. Writing is them, the same way a tree is a tree or a dog is a dog. They are a writer before thought. And their end goal isn’t publication, but to simply write more.

Our previous dreamer, David Radcliffe, would like to ask you the following question:
Hardcover or paperback? Why?

Forever paperback. Paperback is for reading. Hardcover is a trophy on your bookshelf.

Our next featured guest will be Parham Yazdy, a professional photographer.  What would you like to ask him?

Two questions: How might you design a camera for someone who has no hands? And if you could invent a new type of lens that could do anything, what would it do?


For a chance to win a signed copy of Christine Miscione's book, Auxiliary Skins, leave her a question in the comment section.  Giveaway ends on Tuesday November 19th at 11:59 ET.  The winner and the answers to the questions will be published on Thursday November 21.  The winner has to contact ATUA to claim his prize. 

Are you an author? Would you like me to interview you? Drop me a line at stephanie.noel.writer(at)gmail(dot)com.  It will be my pleasure to shocase your work!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Review Wednesday – Breaking the Mold: Confessions of a Hippie ex-Pastor

Meet Charles McGarry, an ex-pastor with very interesting world views (hence the "ex"!),  In his short essay – a mere 50 pages or so – he shares with the reader everything he's come to discover is wrong about the Church (not to be confused with Faith!) and offers viable alternatives to make this world a better place.  The best part in all this is that The Confessions of a Hipie ex-Pastor is accessible to everyone, believer or not.

I have to say that when I saw the title of the book, I was a bit put off.  I am weary of non-fiction books where the name of God is constantly branshished as the solution to all of mankind's problems.  This book, however, was not one of them, and I am glad I didn't let the title deter me.  McGarry's thoughts are extremely well structured.  His references to pop culture (who would have thought God and the Matrix could coexist on the same page?) lighten a topic that could have been much more arid.   To boot, his personnal stories help the reader connect with his ideas, which are very progressive.

Speaking of those, what are the main ideas in this essay? McGarry addresses first and foremost the very delicate topic of the Church as a financial institution.  He explains how, in his opinion, this has put Faith on the back burner in favour of a business Church, catering less and less to the needs of those it was supposed to help in the first place.  Then, he addresses the close affiliation of Church and State, underlining the pernicious consequences this has brought about.  Faced with a growing obese American population (which he partially links to evangelical potlucks!), he believes it's aboud time for his fellow countrymen to wake up and take the green shift, not only in terms of nutrition and well-being, but also in terms of the environment as a whole.  He encourages the readers to take action to proctect the planet.  

Through all these topics, there's a constant theme: breaking the mold.  McGarry is clear on this topic; everyone is different and has different needs.  As human beings, we should be able to questions and analyze the dogmas passed down to us by Church, society and even our families, in order to be our true selves.  This way, we may achieve much more as individuals and thus contribute to society.

Lastly, I would like to add that McGarry's prose is a delight.  It is simple and straight to the point.  It doesn't hinder the reading, thus allowing the message to be conveyed with all its force.  This little book is a gem.  Take a moment and read it. 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


Are you ready for the results of the giveaway?

And the winners are...

*drum roll*


Teodora you win the red prize and RJ Blain you win the blue prize!

Please contact me by email before Friday November 15 to claim your prize and give me your shipping information.

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Hipster Word of the Week – Witzelsucht

Have you brought your vade mecum with you today?  This week ATUA brings you another hipster health condition.  It's so obscure, you've probably never heard of it.


n. - emotional state characterized by futile attempts at humor.

I don't know what's Mandy's problem.  Her jokes are so inappropriate that you'd believe she suffers from  witselsucht!

Your turn! Leave your sentences in the comment section.

Source: Luciferous Logolepsy

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Review Wednesday – Auxiliary Skins

Auxiliary Skins, A Collection of Stories, is Canadian author Christine Miscione' first book.  However, her work has been publish in numerous literary magazines and her story "Skin, Just" – which happens to be the first story of this book –  has won the first place in the Vanderbilt/Exile Short Fiction competition in 2012.

Through her stories, Miscione explores the human body from every angle.  Proper and improper bodily functions are examined and exposed without discrimination for once every judgment and social consensus is removed, this machine is glorious in its perfectly rendered imperfection.   However, those auxiliary skins the author speaks of are not limited to the physical realm.  Rather, they tell of these imaginary walls we build around us and that provide us with auxiliary life support. Through the characters' very physical experiences of discomfort and pleasure, the reader catches a glimpse of what is hidden behind those walls which protect their true selves.  Despite their different settings, all the stories belong to this cohesive collection..

Speaking of this collection without mentioning author's amazing prose would be a crime.  Miscione has a wonderful way with words; her descriptions are so vivid that they sometimes nauseate the reader.  She has this uncanny power many great authors have to make you see exactly what she means, as if she's sharing images with the reader directly from her mind.  It's worth mentioning as well that her metaphors are dead on and that her alliterations make you want to read her work out loud.  Her scrumptious prose flirts with poetry which creates a haunting contrast with the often raw content of the stories.  Her tales stay with the reader long after they have turned the last page.

I truly enjoyed all the stories, however, I would have to say that my favourites were Skin, Just, Winter Immemorial, Herkimer and Lemon Tart.  I realize this makes for almost half the book, but it's very difficult to choose.  Do pick up a copy of Auxiliary Skins, I promise you will not be disappointed.

Want to know more about Christine Miscione?  Don't miss the interview next week!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


A Truth Universally Acknowledged is 1 year old!  Hooray! 

I would never been able to make it without you, my loyal readers.  And so, to show you how much I care, I am hosting a giveaway!


Enter and you could win one of two prizes!  The Red Prize is Camilla Gibb's Sweetness in the Belly and a fancy pink notebook.  The Blue Prize is Veronica Roth's Divergent and a classy blue notebook.  Leave a comment to tell me which one you want and earn an extra entry!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Will ship internationally.  Giveaway ends Tueday November 12th at 12 am.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Hipster Word of the Week – Vade mecum

Is your inner hipster uxorious?  Well, it doesn't matter because this week we're teaching him an awesome word.  I think this one is my favourite so far.


n. - a favorite book carried everywhere

My vade mecum?  Oh it's Steve Job's biography, of course.

Your turn!  Leave your sentences in the comment section!

 Source: Luciferous Logolepsy

Friday, 1 November 2013

Spooky readings at Drawn & Quarterly – Launching Not your ordinary wolf girl

Mile End's Drawn in Quarterly bookstore was all prepped for Halloween last Wednesday with an impressive roster of guests ready to make the crowd shiver and tremble.  Each scarier than the previous, they prepared the avid listener for the piece de resistance of the evening, Emily Pohl-Weary's new teen novel.

From left to rigth: Mike Spry, Marianne Ackerman, Adam Leith Gollner and Mary Soderstom
Mike Spry opened the event with a short story called Small Crosses. Although it was cleverly peppered with humor, it also had a darker, scarier side.  It told of life lost through normality.  It spoke of society's power to kill people's dreams and originality.  A beautiful story.  

Marianne Ackerman followed with the frightening story of a bad haircut.  The anecdote was told without any written support, another proof – as if we needed convincing! – of Ackerman's great storytelling abilities. For a change of pace, author Adam Leith Gollner read a condensed version of Hans Christian Anderson's Auntie Toothache.  According to Gollner, he chose to do so because he feels he's never written something scary.

The gathered crowd was lucky to get an avant-goût of Mary Soderstrom upcoming short story collection called Desire Lines.  She spun an eerie tale of God and the Devil that left the audience wanting more.  Patience, patience.  The book launch is on November 6th, at Drawn & Quarterly!

From left to right: Suzanne Sutherland and Emily Pohl-Weary
Susan Sutherland, with her first novel When we were good and Emily Pohl-Weary with he latest novel, Not your ordinary wolf girl, read from their books before taking part in a nice Q&A chat.  The content of the reading and the chat are condensed in what follows.

Suzanne Sutherland's monsters are not ghouls or vampire; from the outside, they look entirely normal.  Her monsters are high school girls.  In her novel, Sutherland addresses the question of teenage girls mistreating their peers, but especially themselves.  She speaks of this constant feeling of not being enough.  The author says that the first draft of the book was the result of a sudden idea.  Six weeks and a wrist brace later, the – terrible – first draft was born.  It took her about a year to edit it into something good.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, only Sutherland may say), that meant sacrificing a talking fifty dollar bill as main character.

Sutherland said that setting is very important in her novel.  Inspired by In the Skin of a Lion, which uses a bridge as a central element, she decided that she may well use a venue she used to call home as a focal point for her novel.  Music is also omnipresent in her novel.  She mentioned that band practice probably is what helped her survive  high school.  And thank God she did, for her lively presence on stage was much appreciated.

Emily Pohl-Weary finally got on stage, her soft-spokeness contrasting with Sutherland's vibrant energy.  As soon as she started reading, it didn't take long to realize that she is a master of her craft.  Her descriptions were rich, her prose mellifluous. It was easy to picture the whole scene in one's head. The author said that the idea for her wolf girl was born after reading a famous vampire series in which the protagonist was an empty vessel, a helpless girl with no strength (Guessed what series she meant?).She felt that teenage girls needed a strong model, a fierce and powerful monster girl.

When ask if being a teen is like being a monster, Pohl-Weary replied that the werewolf form was a metaphor, an outside manifestation of teen girls' pent up rage.  She continued by saying her favourite scenes to write included one where her protagonist wants to eat (literally) her boyfriend and one, which was unfortunately toned down, where she devoured her neighbor's chihuahua.  Many a listener would have liked to hear her read out that original scene.

Pohl-Weary confessed that the most difficult thing in writing for her is plotting.  She explained that she easily gets side-tracked with details and characters, which means that she constantly needs to outline over and over as her characters take her in different directions.  When asked what monster she would be herself, she laughed and said that she felt she had turned into a werewolf herself.  She joke that although she's not a dog person, the number of cheeseburger she had had in the previous week didn't lie.

The evening ended with casual talk between the guests and the crowd and, of course, many a book signed.  Many thanks to all the authors who contributed to this wonderful night of monsters.