Monday, April 5, 2010

novel reading & writing as per Labonté, Weir, Schroeder, & Galloway

Looking for exciting new Canadian novels to read? Have questions about writing and marketing your novel? I recently attended a workshop addressing those interests. The workshop, held at the university in Kamloops, BC, featured:

- Chris Labonté, associate publisher and acquiring editor, Douglas & McIntyre of Vancouver and Toronto

- Ian Weir, whose novel DANIEL O'THUNDER is a "rollicking, comic, and ultimately haunting tale of fist-fighting, faith, and fine madness" set in 1800s England and British Columbia

- Adam Lewis Schroeder, whose novel IN THE FABLED EAST is about a young widow who in 1909 flees to French Indochina seeking a fabled spring of immortality. She disappears and in 1936 an academic goes looking for her—with surprising results.

- Steven Galloway, whose novel THE CELLIST OF SARAJEVO features "three people trying to survive in a city rife with the extreme fear of desperate times, and of the sorrowing cellist who plays undaunted in their midst." It's set during the siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s.

Editor Labonté provided excellent pointers for authors seeking publication. Among them:

- Get feedback from others on your writing. Revise as appropriate, but don't forget it's your story. You call the shots. Write the novel you'd like to read.

- You can develop a writing profile for yourself by trying to get short stories and/or novel chapters published in small literary magazines such as THE MALAHAT REVIEW, THE ANTIGONISH REVIEW, and PRAIRIE FIRE.

- The Association of Canadian Publishers provides a wealth of information on its web site,

- There are several routes to getting published. You can try: querying a publisher directly, getting a referral from a published author, and finding an agent to represent you. The process can be frustrating, almost akin to trying to win the lottery. But to win you need a ticket, which is your novel, written and revised so it's the best you can possibly make it.

The three authors read from their novels, after which Mr. Labonté led a panel discussion. Some gems that emerged:

- To be a novelist, "you have to like sitting in a room by yourself living in an imaginary world."

- On writer's block: Get on with it whether the "vibe" feels right or not. People in other jobs don't have the luxury of not working when they don't feel like it. They get on with teaching math, collecting garbage, filling teeth—whatever they need to do.

- "In moments of crisis, we discover what we're made of."


  1. Writer's block are just other words for not feeling like doing anything. Even if you think your writing just isn't working one particular day, continue writing. Among the wood chips, clichés and what have you nots, there are beginnings of brilliance. You can always come back to that piece and shape it into something readable.

  2. Hi Elma, I popped in for a minute. YOu have lots of great tips and ideas on your blog. Thanks for posting them!
    BTW, I've heard it said about writer's block (please excuse the language) that you should go ahead and write garbage because "you can edit crap but you can't edit a blank page". ha ha, Pam M.