Revising My Beating Teenage Heart - back later in the summer. C.K.
Between revisions and an upcoming holiday I won't be updating the blog for awhile. I'm afraid I'll be incommunicado for the foreseeable future so forgive me if emails and other messages go unanswered for a good while. Eventually I'll catch up on everything.

I want to send out HAPPY CANADA DAY wishes to my fellow Canadians for tomorrow! And what better way to celebrate than with some fantastic Canadian music? So I've included a selection of my favourite Canadian songs through the years here. Long may we run!

If You Could Read My Mind, Gordon Lightfoot

Take a Minute, K'naan

Hard Road, Sam Roberts

Lucky, Bif Naked

I'm An Adult Now, The Pursuit of Happiness

Alone in the Universe, David Usher

Home for a Rest, Spirit of the West

If I Had a Rocket Launcher, Bruce Cockburn

Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl, Broken Social Scene

Universal Soldier, Buffy Sainte-Marie

Hell, Tegan and Sara

My Dreams of You, The Box

Sleepy Maggie, Ashley MacIsaac

Long May You Run, Neil Young

I was supposed to go downtown to meet a friend this morning but it's just as well that was cancelled because now I can watch the Netherlands vs. Slovakia match! Before I disappear down the rabbit hole for revisions on My Beating Teenage Heart and then a visit to Dublin there are a few things I'm excited about and want to mention.

The Latte Rebellion1) Winter YA Books I Can't Wait to Read (and have recently pre-ordered):

Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers. I'm a huge fan of her first two books, Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are, and her upcoming novel (out December 21st but available for pre-order now) sounds like it's really going to hurt.

The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson of the ever cool Finding Wonderland (Writing YA) blog. The book's out January 1st, 2011 but is available for pre-order.

2) Author/artist Stephanie Ruble has created two gorgeous whimsical illustrations of whales and is donating digital prints via The Ripple Project to anyone who donates $10 to The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies or The International Bird Rescue Research Center.

* Head over to Ripple Sketches for details on how to obtain your print.

3) Sign UNIFEM's petition: Say NO to sexual violence against women in conflict and ask your government to make the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 a reality.
Women and girls hardly ever fight the world's wars, but they often suffer the most. Increasingly, they are the direct targets of fighting, when sexual violence is deliberately used as a tactic of warfare.

And yet fewer than 10 percent of the people who negotiate peace deals are women, and only about three dozen individuals have been convicted and jailed by international war crimes tribunals for committing or commanding widespread sexual violence.

Add your name to this petition and ask your government to support three steps to implement Security Council resolution 1325:

• Prosecute those who command and/or commit sexual violence and exclude them from armies and police forces after conflict.

• Ensure that women participate in peace negotiations and all post-conflict decision-making institutions.

• Increase the number of women in troops, police forces and civilians within international peacekeeping efforts.
Finally, like alot of people in and around Toronto I'm gravely disappointed, in the wake of the weekend G20 summit held in downtown T.O., at not only the destruction enacted in the streets by Black Bloc protesters but with the police's over zealous response to peaceful protesters and even bystanders. Toronto police detained and arrested hundreds of people (including a CTV producer and one young woman who was snatched from a GO train simply for carrying a gas mask for her own protection) who would later be released without having any charges brought against them. For the arrests without cause we can thank Premier Dalton McGuinty for passing sweeping powers on to the police and with that a mentality that suggests protesters are looking for trouble rather than exercising their democratic rights. Toronto this past weekend was a temporary police state and we should all be very worried about the ease with which this was accomplished.

In the wake of the summit Amnesty International is calling "on the Canadian government and the government of the province of Ontario to cooperate in launching an independent review of the security measures that were put in place for the G8 and G20 Summits."

Anyone who has a problem with the way they were treated by authorities can file a formal complaint at The Office Of the Independent Police Review Director.
Okay, so I'm trying not to be too nostalgic about summer when it's only just begun but last night was such a picture of loveliness that beating the feeling back was a challenge. We walked to the local cinema in the evening to watch Toy Story 3 and the temperature, the quality of the light, the feeling in the air, all of it was perfectly idyllyic as we strolled back home afterwards under the rays of the setting sun.

Toy Story 3 was perfection too (I've loved all the Toy Story movies). I swear young children make a better movie going audience than their parents or teenage siblings (who are both prone to furtively checking their cell phones or other electronic devices in darkened theatres). As a culture we've gotten astoundingly bad at being in the moment. We record and report on things as they're happening, the value of the moments themselves passing us by. And time goes quickly enough without us missing the moments because we're distracted by our electronic devices!

Anyway, as if last evening wasn't gorgeous enough, as we neared home we spotted a ton of fireflies in a heavily treed area that was thick with underbrush. I've never seen that many and it felt like magic—tiny bursts of light everywhere in the darkness. We stopped to watch them for some time, trying to pause the moment.

Personally, I'm hoping this summer passes ever so s-l-o-w-ly. Although, I'm set to begin revisions for My Beating Teenage Heart next week, which means what? Yes, it means I will be spending lots and lots of time in front of an electronic device called a computer! But shortly after that I'll be flying over to Ireland where I plan to immerse myself fully in summer. So, please, Dublin, save me some sunshine!

And speaking of summer nostalgia, folks that grew up in the 80's might remember this hit from The Motels, which was nostalgic the moment it hit the airwaves and is now doubly so for those of us who first heard it in our youth.

The lyrics could easily inspire the first pages of a {nostalgic-infused} YA Book.

“It happened one summer
It happened one time
It happened forever
For a short time”

I hope this summer is one all of you will treasure in the future and that there's time to savour the precious moments in the present!

Summer daisies
I spent most of the weekend hanging out in downtown Toronto, where, luckily, the expected thunder and rain never showed and instead we were the recipients of persistent sunshine. But apparently by last Friday more than six kilometres of fence had been erected downtown in preparation for the G20 summit and as a result it looks pretty bizarre around there these days.

The imposing looking fences strongly reminded me of zombie movies 28 Weeks Later (where they'd divided London into safe and unsafe zones during their reclaiming process) and Land of The Dead (where Toronto stands in for the walled city, which the last remaining humans inhabit in relative safety). Because of this I kept having visions of zombies breaking through barriers and barrelling up Bay Street (this is what happens when you've watched too many zombie movies over the years!).
G20 fences, Toronto

G20 fences, Toronto

The fences weren't the only sign of the impending G20, the place is absolutely crawling with clusters of cops. I don't think I'd ever spotted so much as a lone police office in trendy Yorkville before yesterday but there they were sauntering along in the humidity in black and as we walked south we continually passed groups of police on feet and on bicycles. Too, most garbage receptacles have been taken off the streets and replaced with clear plastic bags wound around various posts.

Seeing all of this on a perfectly calm and pleasant summer's day gives the city a very surreal feeling. Toronto is in waiting mode, the calm before a storm which I hope never actually happens just like the forecast weekend thunder that never arrived.

Sunny Yorkville, June 20th

Over the weekend I also continued my streak of films with strong teenage female central characters by watching Winter's Bone. It won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year and though its bleak tone reminded me of Fish Tank, Mia from Fish Tank's biggest problem was her aimlessness, while seventeen-year-old Ree in Winter's Bone is forced to carry a load of responsibility that would make people twice her age buckle (and has, her mother remains mute throughout the movie). Ree and her family live in the Ozark Mountains, surrounded by poverty and drug addiction. Her father's supported the family by cooking crank, but as the movie opens he's skipped bail and unless Ree can find him her family home which her father put up as bail bond, will become public property and render Ree and her young brother and sister homeless.

Ree's dogged inquiries about her father take her into the homes of people you wouldn't feel comfortable looking in the eye (lest they decide they don't like it). Even these people's brand of kindness has a harsh edge to it but Ree is unrelenting in her quest and Jennifer Lawrence, who plays her with quiet tenacity, is destined to have a brilliant career.

Winter's Bone
When I was over at the mall on Wednesday I noticed a group of people gathered in front of the Sony Style store across from the food court watching the Spain vs. Switzerland match.
Spain vs. Switzerland
So I wandered over and stood watching the final ten minutes of the game (yay, Switzerland!). The crowd was much larger by the very end and though there was no sound everyone was paying rapt attention to the screen as though they had a personal stake in the outcome.

Canada doesn't have a team in the current World Cup and have only qualified once, back in 1986. But this doesn't stop us from watching and cheering on the participating countries. In some ways I think not having a team of our own allows us to engage with the competition on a more international level. We can cheer for the team of our homeland, or land of our ancestors, or the spirited underdog, or a country we've visited and/or admire, or the team of a player we love. And thankfully there's tons of World Cup time left so we have a lot of games to look forward to.

I'm also looking forward to spending next week visiting the Random Buzzers forum, answering questions about The Lighter Side of Life and Death and writing in general. I'll be there starting on Monday so if you want to drop by and have a look here's the link:

I saw an amazingly truthful movie last night—my second British coming of age film about a teenage girl in three days (the other was An Education, which I also really enjoyed)—that I want to rave about. If you can handle realistic, gritty and raw you should think about getting your hands on Fish Tank, the story of fifteen-year-old Mia (played by Katie Jarvis in a knockout performance), an aspiring hip-hop dancer who has been kicked out of school and is weighed down by her low income neighbourhood, a mother who doesn't seem to give two shits about her and her own isolation.

But Mia is also stunningly brave and hungry for a real connection with someone. At first it seems as though her mother's new boyfriend (played by Michael Fassbender who awed me in Hunger where he played IRA Hunger striker Bobby Sands) could be a positive influence on young Mia but as their relationship veers closer to boundaries that shouldn't be crossed we begin to wonder if this is yet another problem for Mia rather than part of a solution.

I spent the final third of the film with my stomach in knots. When a movie isn't afraid to go places, anything can happen. But Fish Tank never wavers in its dedication to truthfulness. It's an amazing achievment and an enormous inspiration for writers of contemporary realism.

Fish Tank has gathered rave raviews, numerous British film awards and won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2009.

Fish Tank Trailer:

It looks like it's going to be one rainy weekend in Toronto but that's okay, there's football to keep us busy. To say I'm not big into sports, particularly team sports, is kind of an understatement, but I do tend to get swept up in World Cup fever and will be rooting for England tomorrow in their match against the U.S. and Australia in their Sunday match against Germany.

What with a rained out weekend on our hands and dread of the upcoming G-20 summit to be held shortly in Toronto, Torontonians in particular could use a diversion. Downtown Toronto, during the G-20 summit of June 26th & 27th, couldn't be anymore of a no-go area if there were a zombie outbreak in Dundas Square.

Toronto police, in preparing to deal with civic unrest during this time, have brought in four sonic guns. Otherwise known as a long-range acoustic device (LRAD), sound cannons are “designed to disperse unruly crowds with piercing sound.”

Piercing as in painful and capable of damaging hearing. With weapons like this at the ready, can some kind of crowd thought control weapon be far away?

I don't believe sonic guns are the kind of weapon that should be used on civilians. It makes controlling a population way too easy and what of people's right to protest? The police haven't exactly been the picture of restraint in their use of another supposedly non-lethal weapon, the taser.

* You can read more about LRADs at How Stuff Works.

And if you're planning to protest at the G-20 don't forget the earplugs!
I haven't been blogging much lately. I'm not very adept at multitasking and have been filtering words into a new manuscript. But there've been some really nice reviews of The Lighter Side of Life and Death up recently that I wanted to link to:

* Wondrous Reads

* The Crooked Shelf

Reclusive Bibliophile

A Good Addiction

When I haven't been typing away I've been on an Elizabeth Gaskell (via the BBC) jag. I heartily recommend everyone watch the completely delightful Cranford and Return to Cranford miniseries starring Judi Dench. Set in a small English town in the 1840's, Cranford's women are at the heart of a story which has much humour, sorrow and plenty of tea.

North & South, also based on an Elizabeth Gaskell novel, is equally compelling and tackles the hardship of urban life in a town populated with mills where workers and the kings of industry alike must fight for their survival. It also happens to contain one of the best romances I've seen in awhile, full of troublesome misunderstandings that keep the main characters apart, even when each of their intentions are good and honourable.

Harmonic FeedbackI read extremely slowly when I'm writing (and I always write very slowly too!) and am finally nearing the end of Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly but can confidently recommend it, even before I reach the final page, to readers who appreciate truthful YA. Main character Drea, a musician who designs her own clothes and is also obsessively into sound design, is an original, layered and sympathetic character who has both Asperger's syndrome and ADHD. Drea is surrounded by equally complex characters in complicated situations of their own.

What I love about Harmonic Feedback is that its edges are sharp—it doesn't hold back and soften the experience of being a teenager in today's world. It's real, which to me is the highest compliment.

Finally, as well as being on an Elizabeth Gaskell jag, during the past few days I've also been on a bit of a nostalgic Duran Duran kick inspired by an email exchange with my brother. I was a huge Durannie back in the day and spent a significant amount of time listening to their records and collecting Duran Duran swag at the local flea market or in downtown Toronto, when I was lucky enough to get there. Below is a Duran Duran cover version of the Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel song Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me). It was the B-side to the 12" version of Duran Duran's #1 hit The Reflex and I can't tell you how many hours I spent listening to it in my bedroom when I was fifteen.

Though I loved most Duran Duran tunes in the eighties this cover is still my very favourite thing they've ever done. Sometimes when you look back at stuff you used to like when you were younger, you have a hard time understanding what you saw in it. Instead this song reminds me why I was such a Duran Duran fan; it's like an emotional shot of 1984 straight into the bloodstream. So, welcome to my youth...

Next Post Newer Posts Previous Post Older Posts Home