Getting Cozy

November 10, 2020

I’ve written here before about the deliciousness that is Bella Grace magazine. A little spin-off that is equally worth delving into is The Cozy Issue. What a beautiful cover on the newest edition! Race you to the newstand! Available now at Chapters/Indigo and a few other independent magazine shops. Michael’s has had it in the past too … Worth the hunt I’m sure.

The Blessings of the Animals

September 28, 2010

You may remember my reference to Katrina Kittle in an earlier entry related to the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop. I promised to write more about her and today is the day. Katrina spoke at the conference not about humour (though she was charming and witty to be sure!) but about the craft of writing. She is a writer who takes the responsibility of her role very seriously and while it is tempting to say she’s “gifted” the reality is her gift is her dedication to exploring social issues and then presenting their nuances in a most readable and inspiring way. Please do not be daunted by the tough topics (AIDS, Child Abuse, Addiction, Divorce …) Do yourself a favour and take the plunge. She is a sincere storyteller – you will find humour along with some sadness and be left with a hearty whiff of optimism. I have read The Kindness of Strangers and The Blessings of the Animals and am delighted there are two more to relish. (Traveling Light, Two Truths and a Lie)

I most recently read The Blessings of the Animals. The story focuses on a veterinarian (Camden) who is left by her husband and must forge a new understanding of herself and the important relationships in her life. The characters in the wide cast have intriguing stories of their own and are surrounded by a delightful troupe of wise animals, each with its own tale too. (Tale/Tail? I know … too much!) For the record, I’d like to come back in another life as Muriel the Goat – ahhh the sass! 

A wonderful discovery within the pages was a reference to a real-life Blessing of the Animals. This enchanting ceremony at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City (there are others around the world too) celebrates the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (this Sunday, October 3rd in 2010) and blesses the animals in his honour.  Katrina incorporates it into a  poignant part of her story but this video gives you a little peek of the real deal.

The cover of the the Blessings of the Animals book is so appealing. Katrina shares her feelings about it in her own blog:  “What I love about this cover for The Blessings of the Animals is that not only does it suggest (rightly) that a woman and a horse will be key players, but it speaks to me of love, of trust, of comfort (which one is comforting the other, or is it mutual?), and even hope (grass that shade of green can only be springtime). Combined with the title, hopefully it will compel potential readers to want to know more.”

Pick up a copy of The Blessings of the Animals and keep an eye on the news media this weekend for coverage of the feasts and ceremonies.

Click here for an earlier post on books and their covers.

Writers’ Rooms

August 30, 2010

When you think of your favourite author hard at work, what do you picture?  Rustic ateliers with views of rooftops?  Remote cabins deep in the woods a la Henry Thoreau at Walden?    The Guardian newspaper in the UK featured an entertaining series called Writers’ Rooms  showing a photo and a bit of back story on the space by the writer his or her self. I loved some of the unexpected little details and found the entries witty and fun. The Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival followed up with a version of its own on its website, exploring the work spaces of local authors. Equally engaging!

Steven Galloway (The Cellist of Sarajevo etc.) wrote: “The sign on my door read “Roy’s Poodles, Poodle Training and Poodle Related Services” and from time to time I’d advertise a job opening. Once someone from the Government of Canada’s Human Resources division put their card under the door in response to a posting for a fully accredited canine acupuncturist. Good times.”  

Michael Morpurgo (The Butterfly Lion, Alone on a Wide Wide Sea etc.) wrote: “For many years, I wrote on our bed in the house. But there were complaints about ink on the sheets, dirty feet on the bed, and we felt we should try to create somewhere else, a storyteller’s house.” (Read more )  

And of Jane Austen’s space: “Having no room of her own, she established herself near the little-used front door and here ‘she wrote upon small sheets of paper which could easily be put away or covered with a piece of blotting paper’. A creaking swing door gave her warning when anyone was coming, and she refused to have the creak remedied.”

Writers in the movies seem to always have enviably well turned out havens for their work.  Remember Diane Keaton’s alcove in Something’s Gotta Give?  or Colin Firth in Love Actually hard at work on a novel in Italy and feeling quite distracted by his Portuguese housekeeper…  Click on the photos to connect with the videos of these scenes.

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