The haunting call of the orbsong

Photo from Time.com

My short story, The Call of the Orbsong, in which the main character is a transparent amphibian named Dafenid, is a modern speculative take on an old fairy tale. Thanks to Luna Station Quarterly, you can read the story now: http://lunastationquarterly.com/story/the-call-of-the-orbsong/

Shout out to Ursula K. LeGuin for the spark that led to this story.

Writer’s Shorts Challenge

One of my sci-fi short stories, Alicorn 2108, is competing in an online indie authors competition this month. While the rules state that I can’t encourage people to vote directly for my story, I can encourage you to read the stories and vote.

It is all up to you, the readers. Each reader may only vote once. Read the Writer’s Shorts Challenge contenders here: http://indieauthorsandbooks.wordpress.com/writers-shorts-challenge/writers-shorts-challenge-april-2013/

My story is the last one posted, right before the voting buttons. Happy reading!

Afterwards, no matter how you voted, feel free to leave a comment about the story on this page. It’s appreciated!

A Public Service Reading

Following my Salon du livre de Toronto gig in December 2012, I was invited by public servant colleagues at the government of Ontario to host a reading and discussion next week, on Valentine’s Day.

I will read my short stories Secrets and Nelles, both from literary magazine Virages, to an audience of people who know me more as a policy advisor than as a writer.

Too often, public servants are painted as lazy, boring paper-pushers. While there may be a handful of those, most of us are dynamic workers, eager to serve our fellow citizens. We are  especially, people who care. We are family people, volunteers and leaders in our communities. And some of us are even artists.

A discussion about the place of writing in my life, stuffed here and there around work and family responsibilities, will be interesting. When one has a passion, it’s a privilege to share it with others.

 

A Reading In Absentia

A few weeks ago, my mother, who coordinates a programme for seniors in Ottawa called Creative Connections, held a reading of my work for the programme’s participants.

I wasn’t there.

My mum read for me: my short story A Treat (excerpt here), and two non-fiction pieces, Maman’s Hands and Sunborrowers and Watering Cans.

The positive response is humbling; « they want more! » shares my mum by email.

They meet once a week – I better get writing.

Good News and Free Flow

I happily began the year 2013 with three bits of good writing news:

– I won second place in Good News Toronto‘s True Story Contest. (more on that here)

– My short story Nelles (in French) will be published in the literary magazine Virages in March. (an excerpt can be found here)

–  I will have a ten-minute play produced in this year’s Inspirato Festival, for which I must  write a play from scratch.

As part of  Inspirato Festival’s Playwrights’ Mentoring Project, I attended a day-long workshop during which I met my fellow playwrights and did short writing exercises before being assigned the subject matter of the play I am to write for the festival in June 2013.

One of the exercises included building a small sculpture and writing a free flow/stream of consciousness monologue from its point of view. The result:

We voyaged across the sea, but remain perched in precarious existence. If we photosynthesized, we’d be leaning toward the sun. As it is, we merely lean gravity-ward, which annoys us as we yearn to achieve more. We are both practical and whimsical; our career as a children’s entertainer didn’t last long. If we had the means, we’d bask in the collective glow of of super troupers and admiration. Sadly, the reflection of mere trinkets in the mirror remind us that inanimate life cannot hope, as Pinocchio did, to become real. And even if we fulfilled our dream of a grander, more productive life, it might be at the cost of a separation too painful to fathom. A diminutive pedestal therefore must suffice; hope of a melody at our centre remaining merely the lullaby of slumber, which, even that, escapes us.

A trinket from Croatia, a set of skeleton keys and a foam clown nose get me writing.

It’s unlikely that this text makes it anywhere into the short play I need to write by next month, but it was fun playing with words and getting something down, pencil to paper. Now to write about rope…

Writers Unite

Having met new fellow authors on Twitter this month, I was inspired by the UnknownJim Writers Unite challenge to « write what you REALLY want to write about. »

This month, while I couldn’t choose between concentrating on my English writing or on my French writing, I’ve not quite finished either piece, but I can still share an excerpt. Here is the opening of my short story Ms. Perceval’s Lover:

 

Ms. Perceval had long considered Owain Montblanc her type, but accepting the position of vice-principal last year impeded matters slightly. Now his superior, she could no longer express interest – not that she ever would have, anyway – lest it be misconstrued as sexual harassment by an authority figure. Hardly the way to begin her management career.

So, when Owain collapsed while teaching history class, Ms. Perceval at first hesitated to give him mouth to mouth resuscitation. She could hear the students’ nervous whispers behind her as she kneeled next to her prone colleague with another second’s hesitation. Then, she went to work. Ms. Perceval thought she heard a shocked, stifled giggle and considered withdrawing, but the prospect of Owain expiring on her watch was more than she could bear. She took a breath and bent down, pressing her lips against his, in their first, unlikely kiss.

She had imagined this moment – well, not this moment, the moment when she’d kiss Owain – many times before. She made up romantic, clichéd scenarios: a beach at sunset, the Eiffel Tower under a light rainfall, by Victoria Falls… She didn’t waste time figuring out how she and Owain would end up in these places – she simply inserted herself there, and in her lover’s arms.

Ms. Perceval blushed. She felt the students’ intent gazes pierce the nape of her neck. Could they guess what she had in mind?

While I won’t be participating in NaNoWriMo this year, it will be to concentrate on my short stories, so I hope to be further along with this and other stories by the end of the year.

Writers Unite!

A bit of « A Treat » for the International Day of the Girl

Today, we celebrate girls and young women everywhere; their resilience, their determination, and the hope they represent.

Therefore, I post here an excerpt of my short story « A Treat », starring 7-year-old Naya:

… A passer-by got too close to Naya and shoved her onto her hands and knees, the purse she had omitted to secure shut spilling its contents onto the well-traveled pavement. Tears sprang into Naya’s eyes, less for the pain of the tiny stones that lodged themselves into her right knee than for the lost money she desperately tried to gather up between people’s feet.

“Oh, you’re such a klutz,” Naya heard from up behind her, both relieved and terribly disappointed to hear her sister’s voice.

She picked up the last stray dime she spotted and began counting her coins again.

“Tie your shoe,” Midge commanded.

Used to obeying her big sister, Naya tossed her money back into her purse, made sure it was fastened, and bent over to knot the shoelace that never managed to stay tied. She then wiped her hands on her shorts and stood up, ready to surprise Midge with her offer of ice cream.

“Ok, let’s go,” snapped Midge, indelicately grabbing Naya by the arm.

“But…” spluttered Naya. “Ice cream…”

“Forget it. I’m not standing in a stupid line to get you ice cream. I don’t care what dad said. The deal was, if I take you to the aquarium, I can go to Colin’s cottage with his family next weekend.”

Naya’s shoulders sank. She hadn’t heard of any “deal”. She suspected her father hadn’t meant her to find out, either.

“I wanted to buy you ice cream…” she replied, barely audibly over the swarm of happy families around them.

“You want to buy me ice cream? Yeah, right,” Midge laughed, readily dismissing her sister’s generosity before reconsidering. “Do you have enough money?”

“I have four dollars and forty-two cents. I lost one of my pennies.”

“Great. I’ll have a butterscotch sundae.”

Naya grinned, pleased her big sister was allowing her to treat her. They headed for the ice cream stand, Midge as usual bulldozing her way there, leaving Naya to scamper after her. As they stood in line, Naya clutched her purse in anticipation at being the one to hand the clerk the payment. …

« A Treat » is part of a short story collection on which I am currently working.

To read a short story about another powerful girl, click to read Son of Sun.

An intimate reading

Fallis-class reading

A.M. Matte reading "A Treat"

I’ve heard it asked before: What if you plan a reading and no one shows up?

The answer: It’s not the quantity of people who attend, it’s the quality.

I had the opportunity to read my short story « A Treat », about a young girl who desperately wants her older sister’s approval and is willing to do anything – even buy her an ice cream treat – to get it, in Terry Fallis’ Building An Audience For Your Writing class at U of T this week.

There were only three other people in the room, but they gave me their rapt attention and insightful feedback on my writing and my performance. They asked probing questions about my characters’ motivation and gave me tips on how I can make reading excerpts of the written word more compelling.

The best thing about a small yet captivated audience?  You can read more material. Case in point: we had such a great time at our reading that we’re doing it again next week.