Blogs

Something New: Where to eat now

A few weeks ago, the rockin’ and poppin’ newchoir I sing in backed up two of our soloists – triple threat performer Erin Tancock and Hello Canada! Editor-in-chief Alison Eastwood - singing the Nikki Yanofsky/Quincy Jones hit song Something New at our sold-out Koerner Hall concert.

Speaking of new things (how’s that for a smooth segue?), I’ve recently ventured into some new Toronto restaurants, and to my delight, found a few I want to return to.

When going out to eat, it’s all too easy to stake out a few favorite spots, become regulars there, and not try any place new. Especially when it seems like every other hotspot that opens is devoted to meat, offal, meat and meat. Served in tacos.

Comfort Food, Comfort Reading, Comfort Movie

My new novel The Oakdale Dinner Club is very food-centric – it’s about a group of suburbanites who get together once a month to eat good food, drink good wine, and do other wicked things.

One of the talking points for the novel – yes, like any trying-to-be-current author faking her way through a self-promotion campaign, I have talking points – is that I wrote it as an entertainment, a diversion, as “comfort food for the mind.”

So when I read that New York magazine critic Bilge Ebiri had called actor/writer/director Jon Favreau’s new movie Chef “a comfort movie about comfort food,” I had to go see it.

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Chances

So you want to be a writer, eh? Roll the die at LA Times to see where the writing life might take you.

Wolves

I suppose there are some people out there who think spending a day with George RR Martin and a pack of wolves might be fun. Some might even pay $20K for the experience.

Words

How is it that some people get so worked up about fonts? I'll never know.

Visions

I'm So Hood: Toronto in Literature

The great and good Toronto Public Library recently introduced a cool new feature on their website.

Toronto in Literature: Book Lists by Neighbourhood gives info – with a convenient map – on published fiction in their collection that takes place in Toronto neighbourhoods. And woo-hoo! My mystery novel The Glenwood Treasure (published some years ago) is included on the list for books set in Rosedale.

A Day in the Life of a Launching Author: Then I Spot the Audience

Yesterday, I celebrated the first day of June and the first official day of my Open Book residency – hi y’all! – by appearing on the slate of a Globe and Mail/Ben McNally Books Authors' Brunch event at the King Edward Hotel.

Independent bookseller Ben McNally of the eponymous bookstore http://www.benmcnallybooks.com/ is a great friend to writers, publishers and readers alike, has a hilarious deadpan manner of speaking and an awesome white ponytail,

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye

This marks my last post as Open Book Toronto's writer-in-residence, and I want to thank everyone for their support this past month. Everyone has been extremely kind – both those authors, artists, and publishing staffers who donated much of their time to answering my questions, and those people who read and shared the posts they resulted in throughout May.

As I said way back on May 1 (which seems like almost a month ago), I wanted to fill my WIR blog with a bunch of literary conversations, but ideally to remove myself from those conversations as much as possible.To be honest, I sometimes regretted that decision.

Acknowledgements: Stuart Ross, Copy Editor

Book publishing, as an industry, is not unlike a Jenga tower held together by sheer force of will. If the industry works at all, it's only because many dedicated and diligent people work or little reward like that horse, Boxer, from Animal Farm. (Though it's not all gloom-and-doom; it can certainly have its moments.) Many publishing workers remain invisible to readers and even authors, toiling away on initiatives and tasks unfamiliar to all but those already deeply enmeshed in the publishing world. 'Acknowledgements' is an interview series that aims to change that in some small way.

One part of the publishing process that's often overlooked is that of copy-editing. So, I consider myself very lucky that when I was looking for a copy editor to interview, Stuart mother-f'ing Ross answered the call. Ross is, at this point, an institution in Canada's literary press landscape. If Toronto's literary scene had a Mount Rushmore, his would probably be one of the faces dynamited into the stone. He's written a number of books of poetry (You Exist. Details Follow.), fiction (Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew), essays (Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer), and more. His latest book is a collaboration with 29 other writers, Our Days in Vaudeville. In addition to his own impressive writing, he edits an imprint at Mansfield Press, oversees the Patchy Squirrel Lit-serv of Toronto literary events, and runs a series of Poetry Boot Camps. He's also a very fine freelance copy editor, with a number of clients in the book publishing world. He very kindly answered my questions about time constraints, stetting, and dangling modifiers from his home in Cobourg, Ontario. (He even inserted a pretty sly copy-editing joke in one of his answers for the eagle-eyed among you readers.)

Acknowledgements: Elton D'Costa, Librarian

Book publishing, as an industry, is not unlike a Jenga tower held together by sheer force of will. If the industry works at all, it's only because many dedicated and diligent people work or little reward like that horse, Boxer, from Animal Farm. (Though it's not all gloom-and-doom; it can certainly have its moments.) Many publishing workers remain invisible to readers and even authors, toiling away on initiatives and tasks unfamiliar to all but those already deeply enmeshed in the publishing world. 'Acknowledgements' is an interview series that aims to change that in some small way.

Many readers, authors, and publishing workers have fond childhood (and adult … but not, like, adult) memories of the public library. And in Toronto, we're spoiled with one of the world's largest and most frequently used library systems, the Toronto Public Library. While many of us make use of the library's many services, most of us don't know what a librarian does all day. To be perfectly honest, librarians are often unfairly neglected in the publishing ecology, being outside of the normal retail chain of events. Yet few would deny the importance librarians have in introducing readers to excellent Canadian books. The gracious Elton D'Costa has worked for the Toronto Public Library since 1998. Most recently, he was the Youth Librarian at the Parkdale Branch for five years. Currently, he works as Branch Head of Toronto's Humberwood Branch, near Finch and the 427. I dragged him away from his important duties to ask him a few questions about what exactly I was dragging him away from.

Acknowledgements: Carrie Gleason, Managing Editor

Book publishing, as an industry, is not unlike a Jenga tower held together by sheer force of will. If the industry works at all, it's only because many dedicated and diligent people work or little reward like that horse, Boxer, from Animal Farm. (Though it's not all gloom-and-doom; it can certainly have its moments.) Many publishing workers remain invisible to readers and even authors, toiling away on initiatives and tasks unfamiliar to all but those already deeply enmeshed in the publishing world. 'Acknowledgements' is an interview series that aims to change that in some small way.

Few titles in book publishing are more mystifying than 'managing editor.' And that's partially because the job description can oscillate wildly from publisher to publisher. In general, however, managing editors do more managing than editing: they'll shepherd the manuscript (or 'lamb,' in this case) through its schedules and deadlines, with particular attention to what happens after the substantive editing (i.e. 'big picture' stuff) has been completed. This includes copyediting, layout, proofreading and more, though whether the managing editor does this him/herself or arranges for it varies from publisher to publisher. Either way, a managing editor is both an author's personal guide and horsewhip in the journey from manuscript to bound book. The managing editor oversees the editorial workflow for the entire list, and if you have a list as big as Canadian publisher Dundurn, that's a pretty hefty task. Luckily, Carrie Gleason, a seasoned editor of children's and YA books, is more than up to the task. Though Gleason is a relatively new addition to the Dundurn family, she's worked as associate publisher and in editorial at a number of other Canadian publishers, and has quickly picked up her managerial duties at Dundurn. (She's also a published children's author!) She scheduled some time to answer questions about the tasks of a managing editor.

Words & Curds: Ben Hatke, creator of Zita the Spacegirl

On May 11, I whisked comics creator Ben Hatke (Zita the Spacegirl, Flight) away from the Toronto Comics Arts Festival to enjoy some poutine and undergo an interrogation. The American writer and illustrator has just released the third (and final) Zita adventure, Return of Zita the Spacegirl, with First Second Books. We visited Big Smoke Burger, just across the road from the Toronto Reference Library, where TCAF was taking place. We both ordered a traditional poutine, and both – in an unusual turn of events – finished our poutines. (Or close enough.) I don't want to infer too much, but I think he was kind of excited that a poutine lunch was part of his Canadian itinerary. Over our lunch, we talked about the terrifying Wheelers in Return to Oz, the importance of costume design, and scrapple.

About Zita, the Spacegirl: (adapted from the First Second site): When her best friend is abducted by an alien doomsday cult, Zita leaps to the rescue and finds herself a stranger on a strange planet. Horse-sized mice and living cannons are strange enough as new experiences go, but Zita is even more surprised to find herself taking on the role of intergalactic hero. Before long, aliens in all shapes and sizes don't even phase her.

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