All posts in READING


In honour of this special occasion, I want to share this funny article with you 🙂

“How to Date a Writer” By Heather O’Neill


The following apply to moi –


  1. Be eccentric. Writers are impressed by silly things. Remember their original loves were characters in novels. Act like a fallen aristocrat, or be impossibly whimsical like the Mad Hatter, or whine like a petulant Holden Caulfield and they will adore you.
  2. Be prepared to turn up in fiction. You might find yourself portrayed as a 1920’s fop who forges paintings for a living. You might find yourself seducing and ruining the life of a chorus girl who is a fragile violet. And then you will read pages analyzing your wickedness and moral shortcomings.
  3. Don’t interrupt them at their work. If you find them in the kitchen dressed in underwear leafing through the a book of photographs while butting out a cigarette in a bowl of ice cream, you must treat this scene with the utmost respect. As if you had just walked in on a surgeon in the middle of open heart surgery.
  4. Don’t yell at them for daydreaming. If you date a writer, you will sometimes think that they have suffered brain damage. You will bring them to your cousin’s wedding and they will spend the whole time staring at a styrofoam bird on a cake. Many writers were picked on as children. Why? Because they were weird from the get-go. They were often to be found at the back of the class smelling erasers, or talking to caterpillars, or walking down the street with an encyclopedia balanced on their head. They cannot help it.
  5. When they are on a roll, they will ignore you for days on end.
  6. All this said, if you have the chance of dating a writer, by all means, take it! Take it! They can find more ways to say I love you than any other people on the planet. And imagine the Valentine Day poems you will receive!


Book Club Recommendations?

For those that have been following, our “Bookworms” Book Club has now read several novels – The Glass Castle, Spin, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and The Birth House.  Check out the links to see my quickie reviews and recommendations!

It’s now my turn to pick our next book and I’d love to get YOUR recommendations.  I’d like to hear about more Canadian authors, but am happy to read any great book – so leave a comment below with your book club “pick” 🙂


How Adam Mansbach’s expletive-filled children’s book was born


From Monday’s Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Jun. 13, 2011 12:00AM EDT


Adam Mansbach can thank bleary-eyed parents for making him a bestselling author. Based on mere tidbits about his searing new adult lullaby of a book, Go the … to Sleep, a viral phenomenon was born.

The book began its life as a pithy Facebook update that Mansbach, a 34-year-old based in San Francisco, wrote last summer.


Nestled among his usual material – “mostly quotes from eighties’ rap songs” – was a quip about his bedtime defeat at the hands of his energetic then-two-year-old daughter, Vivien.

“It began with me cracking a joke about ‘Look out for my forthcoming children’s book, Go the … to Sleep,’” says Mansbach “I’m no social-media wizard. It’s not like I used Facebook in any particularly sophisticated way. The response was positive enough that it encouraged me to keep making the joke for the next couple of weeks in real life.”

Then, he sat down to write a full book of four-line stanzas; the first two lines of which are mostly soft and lilting – with the second two lines expletive-laden pleas that resonate with any parent who has been on the losing end of a bedtime battle.

For example:

All the kids from day care are in dreamland.
The froggie has made his last leap.
Hell, no, you can’t go to the bathroom.
You know where you can go?

… And, yes, of course, the punchline is go the [expletive] to sleep.

Illustrator Ricardo Cortés, a Brooklyn-based friend of Mansbach’s, contributed the colour-drenched images of children cuddling with animals and other, more realistic, nursery scenes. Taken alone, a reader would never know they formed part of a humour book.


The cover of Adam Mansbach and Richard Cortes book, "Go the ... to Sleep"


“Adam got it to a T and I thought my images should play the straight guy in a comedy,” Cortés says.

Soon after the pair signed with indie publisher Akashic Books, the book cover – with the moon cleverly blocking out a few key letters – and a single stanza were made available on Amazon.

From there, it’s been a series of hairpin turns on a roller coaster of a publishing ride.

The use of four-letter (and other) expletives on every page, he says, is key to the “interior monologue that bubbles up.” Leaving them out was not an option.

“The book was a very naive, unconsidered, unstrategic burst of honesty and [an] attempt at humour. Those are the words that run through my mind, so I went ahead with it.”

For parents in on the joke, this wasn’t the same as sharing cute pictures of kittens or dancing babies. Mansbach’s book released a pent-up valve within the modern culture of parenting.

“There’s this culture of preciousness and perfection around parenting so people are a little bit reluctant to admit to some of the frustrations because you’re supposed to be a super parent and not complain,” says Mansbach.

Based on the early success of the concept, Akashic decided to move up the publication date from October to June. Now, 300,000 copies have been printed, the book is about to go into its fifth print run and before the book has even been released – on Tuesday in Canada – there’s a movie deal. A full version of the book recently went viral after being leaked online by a bookseller.

Mansbach, who has just completed a stint as a visiting Rutgers University literature professor and whose other, lesser-known, books include Angry Black White Boy and A Fictional History of the United States with Huge Chunks Missing, insists the leak was not a marketing ploy.

The fact that it’s the ultimate ironic baby-shower gift mitigates any slide in sales the pirated version might cause.

“I don’t want to be too happy-go-lucky about it. In most cases a leak would hurt a book,” says the author from a “working vacation’ in Martha’s Vineyard. “In ours, it seems to have helped because of this perfect storm of factors: It’s a gift book and it is bad form to print out a low-resolution PDF and staple it together and take it to a baby shower.”

As for further buzz, some may arise from the release last Thursday of a light-hearted statement from a children’s publisher pointing out some uncanny similarities to kid-lit star Nancy Tillman’s work It’s Time to Sleep, My Love. (Both Mansbach and Cortés say the connection was not deliberate.)

One thing is certain, however – what started as a Facebook update has landed Mansbach more fame (and potential money) than any of his prior, more considered books. Which all bodes well for a graphic novel he has planned for a February release.

“The protagonist is a down-on-his-luck alligator trainer from the Everglades who ends up having to represent Earth in an inter-species inter-galactic gladiator tournament.”

Given Mansbach’s last year, it might just fly.



*I am pregnant with my first baby and I really got a kick out of the idea behind this book

Any other recommendations for “children’s” literature ? 😉


For some more fun, check out Samuel L. Jackson reading the book

Video – Youtube


Q&A with author Christian McPherson

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to the third installment of the 3-part Christian McPherson series.  Christian is the author of The Cube People, which I reviewed here and he graciously agreed to a Q&A follow-up with me after I completed the book.  I also entered him in my Great Canadian Finds section – read his bio here.

1.  How close is The Cube People to your real life? Is Colin MacDonald based on yourself? Would anyone you know recognize themselves in the story? If so, what was/would be their reaction?

There is a lot me in the character of Colin MacDonald.  Like Colin, I went through fertility treatment with my wife and I too am a long serving civil servant. We both dreamt of becoming published writers, which we both became and both still work for the government.  None of the characters in the book are based on anyone specific but are rather composites of different people.  Some people think they know who the characters are but I keep telling them, it’s all fiction.


2.  As a public servant, what was the response to the book and its depiction of the government from your co-workers and managers? Any backlash at all?

Really supportive actually.  From both my co-workers and upper management, they have all been really kind.  I can’t think of anything bad that has happened yet.  Most government workers seem to get a kick out of it.


3.  You base the story in the Ottawa area, but you fictionalize certain places/titles and not others. What was your reason for doing so?

I fictionalized my work because I wanted to have a job to go back to.  I thought if I didn’t fictionalize my work it would be a conflict of interest.  So all the work stuff turned into fiction, but I wanted the novel to be still set in Ottawa.  There aren’t a lot of books set here and I love the city, so I wanted to do it justice.  I toyed with the idea of setting it in a fictional city or in Toronto, but Ottawa kept calling to me and I’m happy I set it there.


4.  What was your process in writing The Cube People ? (i.e., Did you follow a writing guide, how long did it take, finding reviewers, etc.)

The idea took form over the course of a few years.  I knew I wanted to write a story within a story and I also wanted to write about cubicle culture.  Once I figured out how I was going to do that, it was easy.  I’m kidding, it wasn’t easy.  I’m a very planned writer when it comes to short stories and, as it turns out, novels.  I work out the plot chapter by chapter in one line summaries: Chapter one is about this, Chapter two is about that, etc.  Once I had laid out the book, I just banged it out, never worried where I was going because I knew.  I did make a few course adjustments along the way, but for the most part I stuck to my outline.  I wrote the most of it in two chunks when I took a leave from my job.  The first one was a five week leave and the other one was just over two months.  I put in seven and half hour days and typed like a crazy person while I was on these leaves from work.  After it was done, I spent a great deal of time editing it.  So it was written over two years, little bit by bit.  About four to five months if you add up all the time.


5.  Once you had finished your novel, how long before it was actually published and how did you choose/find your publisher?

I actually tried to get an agent but didn’t have any luck, so I sent my manuscript to Nightwood Editions, the publishing house who did my first book of short stories, “Six Ways to Sunday.”  They had it for about six months before they said yes.  It was another six to eight months after that before the actual book came out.  So about a year after, which is typical, I think.  I’ve received rejection letters for my books that took over a year to get.  Publishing is a slow business.


6.  Did you experience as much rejection from the writing community as your lead character Colin MacDonald did? If so, what are your tips for dealing with it?

Yeah, with my first book of short stories, I had tons of rejections.  I must have mailed out to at least thirty publishers.  A few said yes and I went with Nightwood.  My advice, grow a thick skin and keep trying.  Oh, and be very patient.  It’s a slow business.  Your manuscript can languish in a pile for months, if not years before a warm body gets to it, only to send you a form rejection letter.


7.  In The Cube People, Colin MacDonald enjoys writing Science Fiction and Horror stories. Do you connect yourself as a writer with a particular genre? Are there certain writers you’ve drawn inspiration from?

I’ve never read a whole lot of science fiction, although I’ve watched a ton of science fiction films.  I’ve read Kurt Vonnegut, some Ray Bradbury and a little Stephen King, but mostly I stick to literary fiction or popular fiction such as Elmore Leonard or Carl Hiaasen.  Some of my favourite books I’ve read in recent memory are “Lullabies for Little Criminals” by Heather O’Neil, “The Pugilist at Rest,” by Thom Jones, and “Play the Monster Blind” by Lynn Coady.  In terms of poetry, Charles Bukowski is my favourite.  I also love Al Purdy, Irving Layton, and Richard Brautigan.


8.  It has been highlighted in the media that you’ve taken a leave from your government job to focus on your writing. What does your typical day consist of now (in terms of writing, marketing)? Have you found the time off beneficial for your writing career? What is your next novel about?

Well, I also took time to look after my four year son.  He goes to daycare two days a week and school every afternoon.  So I only have two days a week to write full time and two hours on the three other days.  Two hours goes by in a blink.  On my full days, I just stick to my outline and type what it is that I’m supposed to be doing.  What can I say, I’m organized.  It has been great being off.  I’ve done tons of promoting, book signings, and e-mailing that I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.  My next novel is a sequel to “The Cube People” with the working title “Cube Squared.”  Colin goes through more mid-life crisis.  His father dies, he gets promoted at work and he gets an agent for the next book he is writing which is a vampire-zombie novel.  There is tons of funny stuff going to happen to poor Colin.  At least I hope people find it funny.


9.  In the novel, Sarah tells Colin when he is considering keeping the money given to him by Peter Cann, that “good writers will find the time to write” what are your thoughts on this idea? Is it better to be able to focus fully on your craft, or do bursts of inspiration work best for you?

If I had the opportunity to steal three hundred thousand, I would be taking the money.  You have to write when you can.  I’ve been extremely lucky to have been able to have a year off from work.  To be able to work full time on something is definitely better than trying to do it in small bursts.  If I could write full time, I would.  Reality is that there are bills to pay and I’ve still not written a bestseller.  So I do what I can and will continue to do so.


10.  You were given financial support by the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts to write The Cube People, was it hard to obtain this financial support and what was the process?

The Ontario Arts Council gave me money through their Writers’ Reserve program.  It is a painfully long application process which you need to do multiple times.  I’m not sure if I will ever apply again.  The Canada Council grant on the other hand was easy to do, and you can even fill out the application online. I know lots of writers who haven’t received funding, so I feel very lucky to have gotten a grant from them.  I feel that getting a grant is a little bit like winning the lottery.  It’s all so subjective.  I wouldn’t want to sit and judge someone else’s work, especially when serious money is on the line.


Thank you to Christian McPherson for his time.  Hope you enjoyed this series 🙂