I was just doing some research for a blog appearance elsewhere and I ended up drifting off course on YouTube and watching The Frames rock The Pixies tune Where Is My Mind and now I'm just dying to see The Frames live again and can't think about anything else so that kind of backfired productivity-wise. Seriously, it's all about The Frames for me at this moment. So when Glen Hansard sings, "Where is my mind?" The answer = Frames.

But oh, well, what you really needed was a reminder just how much The Frames rock, right?

And if you can get through that Where Is My Mind cover without feeling the pull to see The Frames live (because not only are The Frames an awesome band they're an awesome live band) challenge yourself with their classic Revelate.

Does this mean we're through
Does this mean it's gone
I spent all day just to ponder the words
That I would write to you this day
But it's all too great, my revelate

Nope, I'm not getting a thing done tonight. I give up. Just going to watch Glen Hansard, Joe Doyle, Colm MacConIomaire, Rob Bochnik, and Johnny Boyle play like their lives depend on it and hope they'll show up in Toronto again soon.
I Know It's Over paperback

Today's the paperback release date for I Know It's Over so I can't resist embedding this heartbreaking live clip of The Smiths classic (a song which I feel pretty much clings to every page of the book).

Nobody can break your heart like Morrissey. Maybe I should put up a malaise warning to go along with the clip. Between the dismal weather dripping outside my window and Morrissey's thick aura of despair I can feel myself sinking...sinking as I listen.

I know it's over - still I cling
I don't know where else I can go

Malaise Advisory. Melancholy Content

And my favourite part of the song is the one that always makes my heart twinge the worst:

It's so easy to laugh
It's so easy to hate
It takes guts to be gentle and kind

Such amazing lessons Morrissey offers us and given the cynical, hard-edged time we live in this is even more true now than when he first sang it. These are the kind of guts I want to have in every one of my books.
As if the ongoing economic crisis isn't enough for the international community to deal with, now we're facing a global outbreak of swine flu. Terrific. What next, you might ask yourself!

Well, Benjamin Linus (former leader of the Others and ex-Dharma Initiative employee) has taken the opportunity to seize control of Canada. Presumably Linus was unwilling to face off against U.S. President Barack Obama, but Canada, with its lack of strong political leadership, offered little overt resistance to Linus' takeover plan. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is rumoured to have fled the country along with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

Pictured below a gigantic genetically altered Benjamin Linus directs an invasion team consisting of Godzilla and a select group of Daleks in Ottawa, the nation's capital. Linus is also said to have his eye on Australia, Peru, Lithuania and countless other countries.

If anyone out there knows how to contact the Doctor now might be the time to give him a buzz. I bet he has the cure for swine flu just lying around the TARDIS too.

Benjamin Linus, with the help of Daleks and Godzilla, takes over Canada
Cake!This month Bookluver-Carol's Reviews is celebrating its blogoversary with lots of author interviews (including Deborah Kerbel, Maggie Stiefvater, Elizabeth Scott, L.S. Singleton and A.S. King), guest blogs and giveaways. Happy Blogoversary, Carol! Many happy returns!

You can check out her fantastic blogoversary table of contents here and today I make an appearance with a guest blog about the importance of music to my writing and the answers to a Q & A. You can also win a copy of I Know It's Over, an IKIO tote bag and a mousepad with your choice of the cover of One Lonely Degree or the new cover of I Know It's Over on it.

Thanks, Carol, for including me in the celebration!
Before the month is up I wanted to blog about April being Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. A 1993 Statistics Canada survey reports that 39% of Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of sexual assault (this includes any form of sexual activity without a person's consent—kissing, touching, intercourse or not stopping sexual contact when asked to) since the age of 16. In the United States 17.6% of women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime.

These statistics demonstrate that sexual assault is a crime that's widespread in North America. If we ourselves have not been victims the odds are we have a family member or close friend who has.

Young women in particular are at risk. 44% of rape and sexual assault victims are under 18 and “girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.” You can read more stats about sexual assault on the RAINN site and if you need help, contact them via the national sexual assault online hotline or call 1-800-656-HOPE.

The RAINN site has important info to digest whether you're a survivor of sexual violence yourself, are trying to assist someone who is, or are just interested in developing an awareness about the crime. Here are a few helpful direct links:

I think the following sections:

What to do in a social situation

What to do if someone is pressuring you

are especially important for young women and would like to repeat some of the things RAINN suggests you try if you need to get out of or avoid a scary social situation:

• Trust your instincts. Don’t feel obligated to do anything you don’t want to. “I don’t want to” is always a good enough reason.

• Be true to yourself. Do what feels right to you and what you are comfortable with.

• Have a code word with your friends or family so that if you don’t feel comfortable you can call them and communicate your discomfort without the person you are with knowing. Your friends or family can then come to get you or make up an excuse for you to leave.

• Lie. If you don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings it is better to lie and make up a reason to leave than to stay and be uncomfortable, scared, or worse. Some excuses you could use are: needing to take care of a friend or family member, not feeling well, having somewhere else that you need to be, etc.

• Try to think of an escape route. How would you try to get out of the room? Where are the doors? Windows? Are there people around who might be able to help you? Is there an emergency phone nearby?

• When you go to a party, go with a group of friends. Arrive together, check in with each other and leave together.

• Practice safe drinking. Try not to leave any beverages unattended or accept drinks from someone you don’t know or trust.

• Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way out of a bad situation.
Having said that, as a culture it's imperative that we stop placing the onus of sexual assault prevention at women's feet. “There is just no way to protect women from sexual violence by having them alter their behavior, unless we completely remove all women from social situations. The rapist is the problem, and he will eventually find a victim.” (from the SAFER blog)

If our society truly wants to reduce sexual violence we need to do an enormous amount of work combatting the social beliefs that make sexual assault more likely to occur—for instance the belief that victims share in the responsibility for their attack if they were drinking heavily, flirting, dressing or behaving in a certain way (recent surveys like this one of UK students “show that even among younger people the view that women ‘ask for it’ is stubbornly held”). By even partially absolving the attacker we not only let the true victims down but also send a message to a new generation of young men (99% of rape offenders are male) that there are circumstances under which it's alright (or at least, not quite as wrong) for men to commit sexual assault.

I remember back in 1989 when an anti-rape campaign was launched at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Journalists captured images of men's residences displaying signs reading:

No Means More Beer
No Means Dyke
No Means Kick In Her Teeth

The people who put up these signs were the guys next door—the guys girls went to school with, dated, partied with—not the maladjusted psychos we tend to imagine lurking in dark corners waiting to pounce on strangers (although sexual attacks are committed by strangers too, just with less frequency). No doubt many of the Queens guys in those residences wouldn't actually sexually attack someone but it's not difficult to see how taping up such hostile messages or doing things like advising a friend about how he's likely to score with a certain girl because she's wasted help sustain a culture rife with sexual assault. And it's not like these attitudes have disappeared in the past twenty years either; if anything, judging by the amount of sexual assault occurring within the Ontario school system, toxic attitudes about women are even more prevalent.

The following is from a Minneapolis Star-Tribune article on sexual assault prevention training aimed at changing men's attitudes that I discovered via the SAFER blog:
It's possible that Tyler, fresh from sex assault prevention training, stopped his acquaintance from committing a sexual attack just by voicing his objections.

This shift in prevention training which is currently occurring on some college campuses is crucial. As Lauren Pilnick, sexual violence education coordinator at Minnesota State University, states, “The fact of the matter is that prevention comes down to, largely, males. Because males are primarily the ones perpetrating these crimes.”

As a woman (or a man, as they can also be victims of sexual assault—in 2003 1 in 10 rape victims in the U.S. were male), guarding your drink and avoiding risky situations may keep you safe for the night but challenging attitudes that create an environment where sexual assault is more likely to occur makes everyone safer in the long-term.

Additional Reading

Learn more about Krishnar Lewis and his song “Sad Girl”.

I'm currently working some stuff out on page 182 of The Lighter Side of Life and Death and I think my computer has some kind of virus as Internet Explorer won't open certain websites that Firefox has no issue with but this video on anti same-sex marriage sentiments from Shoot The Messenger NYC was too funny not to post.

A Storm is Gathering:

Here's the real ad from the National Organization for Marriage, which, as you can see, is just as absurd. You can read about the lies this ad tells at End The Lies.org.

Last week lesbian and gay couples in Iowa and Vermont won the right to marry but right-wing groups are mounting a campaign to reverse the decision in Iowa with a constitutional marriage ban. If you want to stop the next Proposition 8 go to the Human Rights Watch campaign and send a message “thanking Iowa's leaders and urging them to resist right-wing pressure.”

I Know It's Over (paperback)I haven't been very good at linking to reviews of I Know It's Over lately and I'm about to step back into revisions for The Lighter Side of Life and Death so the odds are I'll be remiss for the next little while too but before that happens here's a rundown of some fairly recent blog reviews of the book:

*Finding Wonderland

*Crowding the Book Truck

*Reader Rabbit

* Books By Their Cover

* Life At Now

* Reading is Sexy

* Laura's Review Bookshelf

* KIdsWWwrite

* The Brick Post

* Book Binge

* Not Acting My Age

You can currently win signed hardcovers of I Know It's Over at both Reader Rabbit and Books By Their Cover. And speaking of the hardcover, my editor sent along my first copy of the paperback the other day and I'm insanely fond of it. I'm starting to think I might even prefer it to the hardcover (but shhhh, don't let on to the hardcover, we don't want it feeling jealous).

Actually, it's not necessarily that I like the new cover better but just that I've had more time to get used to the old one (does that sound like I'm taking it for granted?). Also, my favourite colour has always been blue which gives the paperback an unfair advantage, along with the fact that it contains the first chapter of One Lonely Degree.

Anyway, not only will I have to stop blogging for the next little while, I'll also be putting aside my current reading material. I virtually always read one novel at a time but with the way things worked out it somehow happens that right now I'm in the middle of three different books—one of them manga, another a graphic novel and the third a contemporary YA novel.

Aya of Yop CitySolaninLeader of the Pack

And I'm really enjoying all of them so I'm not even sure which one to get back to first once I have a chance!
When Canadian book site Reader Rabbit asked me if I wanted to participate in the CANADA month they were holding by blogging about same sex marriage, I was very pleased to oblige. Canada is one of the few countries in the world (along with The Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Spain, and South Africa) where same-sex couples currently have the legal right to marry.
Rainbow flag

Sweden, having last week voted to legalize same-sex marriage with a final parliamentary count of 261 votes in favour of the bill and 22 opposed, will become the seventh country in the world same sex couples will be able to legally marry on May 1st. Hopefully many other nations will also recognize this as a human rights issue and soon follow suit.

If you're interested in reading about Canada's own history with homosexual rights and acceptance (a journey still in motion) you may want to look at my guest post up on Reader Rabbit:

Same Sex Marriage in Canada: “Separate but Equal is Not Equal

In celebration of their Canada Month Reader Rabbit will also be featuring a Canadian Book giveaway where you can win a copy of I Know It's Over, Cracked Up To Be, The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie and other novels. Be sure to check back for more fantastic Canadiana throughout the month.
Friday featured disheartening amounts of nonstop rain and Saturday was miserably gusty and cold but today in the Greater Toronto Area it's spring in the most amiable way.

We wandered around enjoying happy signs that spring has finally arrived (fat buds on trees, lawns covered with bluebells, robins perched proudly on telephone wires). Then we stopped by a local Tim Hortons for soup and while we were inside a gorgeous Border Collie hopped blithely onto a rock outside the coffee shop window to await his/her coffee-buying people.

That rock suddenly seemed like the world's coziest place to hang out and take it easy but I'd never seen a dog sit there before. Maybe this particular one lounges around up there every time his/her people stop by Tim Hortons, like a Buddha dog at one with the universe.

After awhile a family with two young girls came by to pet him/her, which the mellow Border Collie enjoyed but the attention didn't compel him/her to move. Life was obviously good, up on that rock. Why would he or she want to move a muscle? Finally the dog's people emerged from inside the Tim Hortons and he/she jumped down and sauntered off with them down the street, as happy and at ease with them as he/she had been on the rock.

I get the feeling this dog is like that wherever he or she goes.

Border Collie taking it east
I'm on Books By Their Cover in a somewhat unusual capacity today. If you didn't already know that Carol and Yan are seriously nutty you'll realize it once you take a look at their joint April Fools giveaway. And, okay, I might be a little bit nuts myself.

Anyway, they - and a bunch of authors - are teaming up to give away books (including I Know It's Over). You can enter up until April 25th.
Last year around this time I wrote about Prime Minister Harper sending Easter cards out to Canadians in an attempt to soften his image. At the time I wasn't sure the attempt was entirely successful but Harper must have been pleased with the results as he's decided to do the same again this year. If you live in Canada you'll no doubt receive your Easter card from the PM shortly, but I've scanned in the image for those of you who happen to be out of the country and are curious what an Easter card from Stephen Harper looks like:
Stephen Harper card: Happy Easter, peasants! With fondness Your Czar, S.H.

In addition, this year Harper will be going door to door in several Ottawa neighbourhoods, spreading recession-time cheer by handing out Easter goodies, such as dollar store chocolate and Canadian Tire money, in lieu of unemployment cheques.

April also brings the release of a new Harper action figure set to celebrate Harper's reign during the past six months (you can check out the previous figure, Election 08 Harper, here). As you can see, the Darth Harper figure clutches a Canadian flag in one hand and a chunk of Alberta tar sands earth in the other, the oil proceeds of which Harper hopes to use to fund creation of his Death Star. Statesman Harper (in full ceremonial garb) also grips a Canadian flag, which he can wave vigorously while proclaiming Canada's finances are sounder than any other country in the world. In the event the flag waving fails to placate Canadians, Harper can quickly don the sweater vest he holds in his other hand.

Recession Harper figure set available at toy stores across Canada

Recession Harper 12-inch figure set

* Recession Harper accessories sold separately:

Happy egg hunting, everybody! If Stephen happens to drop by your house with his basket of Easter goodies grab some of that Canadian Tire money for me, okay?
Next Post Newer Posts Previous Post Older Posts Home