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February readings spotlight HSWLA authors

Next week is shaping up to be a busy one for HSW Literary Agency authors.

As we’ve already noted, Pamela Mordecai is slated–along with Rachel Manley and Olive Senior–to read at the Toronto Public Library’s Don Mills Branch on Wednesday, February 23 at 7 p.m. Part of the TPL’s Black History Month programming, the event will also feature a discussion on “the art of loving Jamaica.” Donna Bailey Nurse hosts.

The following evening and a coast away, Darcie Friesen Hossack will read from her Commonwealth Writer’s Prize-nominated collection Mennonites Don’t Dance (Best First Book – Canada and the Caribbean) as part of the Okanagan Institute’s Masters of Prose: Authors of Distinction event. The evening will also feature fellow Okanagan writer and Commonwealth Prize-nominee Adam Lewis Schroeder (Best Book – Canada and the Caribbean).

  • What: A reading by Commonwealth Prize-nominee Darcie Friesen Hossack.
  • When: Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Where: Hooked on Books
                   225 Main Street, Penticton, BC  V2A 5B1
                   Telephone: 778-476-5621
  • How: Admission is $2.00 at the door, and seating is limited. Please register online.

This promises to be a fantastic evening with two of Canada`s rising literary stars. If you`re in the Okanagan area, this is not to be missed!

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Mennonites Don’t Dance nominated for Commonwealth Prize!

Mennonites Don't Dance Darcie Friesen HossackWe are thrilled to announce that Darcie Friesen Hossack‘s accomplished debut short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book – Canada and the Caribbean!

This nomination caps a season of praise for Mennonites Don’t Dance, which has been favourably reviewed since its publication by Thistledown Press in September 2010. Authors Sandra Birdsell, Andreas Schroeder, Betty Jane Hegerat, and Pearl Luke, herself a Commonwealth Prize-winner, all offered pre-publication praise for the stories.

The stories that comprise Mennonites Don’t Dance offer an intimate, unflinching portrait of familial sins and redemption set against the Canadian prairies. Inviting comparisons to Miriam Toews and Patrick Friesen, Darcie’s writing is marked by its “compassion and eloquence.”

Our most heartfelt congratulations, Darcie. We are so proud to represent you!

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Catching up with Alison Lohans

Doppelganger Nitty Gritty NovelYA Children's Author Alison LohansAlison Lohans is one of the HSW Literary Agency’s most prolific clients. While she always seems to have something on the go, the past year has been especially busy.

In January 2010, Alison’s middle-grade novel Doppelganger was published as part of Pearson Education New Zealand’s Nitty Gritty Novels series, and has since been recommended by CM Magazine, the Manitoba Library Association journal devoted to children’s booksIn its recent review of the novel, the magazine praised, ”the story is fast paced, with lots of interesting local scenes and colour.”

Dog Alert novel early readerFebruary 2011 finds Alison gearing up for the release of her next Nitty Gritty novel, the early chapter book Dog Alert!, which is sure to be a hit with discerning primary school readers and parents alike.

But don’t expect Alison to pause for a rest any time soon: Dundurn Press is publishing her young adult novel Picturing Alyssa in the fall, and Alison’s already hard at work on her next book.

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Pamela Mordecai at the Richmond Hill Public Library TONIGHT!

Get better acquainted with the work of Pamela Mordecai, author/poet/playwright-extraordinaire, at the Richmond Hill Public Library’s Central branch. Starting at 7:30 p.m. tonight, Pamela–who was recently interviewed for Open Book Toronto by Adebe D.A.– will read from her short story “Shining Waters” (Pink Icing and Other Stories) and from her poetry collection, Certifiable.

  • What: An evening with Pamela Mordecai.
  • When: Monday, February 7, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: Central Library, Richmond Hill Public Library
    1 Atkinson Street, Richmond Hill L4C 0H5
    (Yonge Street & Major MacKenzie Drive)
    Telephone: 905-884-9288

  • View Larger Map

  • How: Admission is free, but space is limited, so please call ahead to reserve your spot: 905-884-9288, extension 321.
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    Hands-on Research

    In preparation for his latest book–Gibbons: The Invisible Apes–author, anthropologist, and professor John Steckley undertook exhaustive research. He wanted to know everything he could about the primates so often forgotten or mistaken for monkeys.

    Like any good anthropologist who strives to understand his subject completely, John spent many an afternoon observing gibbons. He had some particularly memorable visits with Penelope, a beautiful white-handed gibbon who resides just outside Toronto at the Bowmanville Zoo.

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    Pamela Mordecai in the Caribbean Review of Books

    To say that poet, author, and playwright Pamela Mordecai has “a way with words” would be putting it mildly. Her cadence is lyrical but precise; her sense of place, impressionistic as it is vivid and true. Proof of these talents: Pamela’s latest poem in the Caribbean Review of Books, “Cozumel, Island of Swallows.”

    Experience the poem online.

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    Nairne Holtz on Writing and Publishing

    author writer Nairne HoltzThe incomparable Nairne Holtz–the Alice B. Award-winning author of The Skin Beneath and This One’s Going to Last Forever (both published by Insomniac Press)–is profiled at Chazz Writes, a blog dedicated to writing and publishing.

    In her interview with blogger Robert Chazz Chute, Nairne–who counts McAuslan First Book Prize and Lambda Literary Award nominations among her accolades–discusses how she got her start as a writer, how she approaches writing, and how she’s adapted to changes within the publishing industry.

    To read more about Nairne, visit this latest profile or Nairne’s own website: www.nairneholtz.com.

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    Great Black History Month programming at the Richmond Hill Public Library!

    The surest cure for the winter blahs is a full social life, so pull out those calendars once more–February is looking up!

    Fans of Pamela Mordecai will be pleased to hear that she has another reading lined up. On Monday, February 7, 2011, Pamela will take part in Richmond Hill Public Library’s Black History Month celebrations, reading selections from her own short stories and poetry. For more information on Pamela’s reading, click on the thumbnail of the poster (below, left), or visit the library’s event page. (The details about Pamela’s previously announced February reading are here.)

    Great news for Pamela Mordecai's Richmond Hill-area fans... on Twitpic

    Three days later, on Thursday, February 10th, acclaimed YA author and former diplomat Martin Mordecai will take part in a Black History Month panel discussion that aims to inspire. Join Martin and fellow panelists Christopher Bullen, Joel Gorden, and Rhonda McEwen as they talk about breaking down barriers. Information about the discussion and the panelists can be found by clicking on the event poster (below, left), or visiting the Richmond Hill Public Library’s event announcement.

    What a great panel! Acclaimed YA author and former diplomat M... on Twitpic

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    Hot off the presses

    …another rave review for Darcie Friesen Hossack‘s Mennonites Don’t Dance!

    Writing in the Winnipeg Free Press, reviewer Adelia Neufeld Wiens compares Hossack–who writes “with black humour and shrewd wit”–to fellow Mennonite writers Miriam Toews and Patrick Friesen: “Like The Shunning and A Complicated Kindness, the stories here illuminate the sad reality that not all of Mennonite religion and culture is healthy. And no family is easy.”

    This slender book of 11 short stories is a complex treasure. Each story is wrapped in themes of anger, guilt and the Mennonite work ethic. Thankfully, the jagged edges of this treasure are gilded, occasionally, with grace and hope.

    …. [Hossack's] writing is crisp, evocative and spellbinding, her characters and plots strong.

    The full review of Mennonites Don’t Dance may be read online courtesy of the Winnipeg Free Press.

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    Praise for Mennonites Don’t Dance

    It’s reasonably safe to say that most writers worry about how their books will be received once published. The reviewing public can be a special source of anxiety, but it can also be a font of reassurance. For Darcie Friesen Hossack–whose debut collection of short stories, Mennonites Don’t Dance (Thistledown Press 2010), received pre-publication praise from Giller Prize-nominee Sandra Birdsell, Commonwealth Prize-winning author Pearl Luke, and Governor General’s Award-nominee Andreas Schroeder–reviewers have been the latter.

    In reviewing Mennonites Don’t Dance in November, the Calgary Beacon remarked on the “compassion and eloquence” of Darcie’s writing and the vivid characters that she “[describes] so close to the bone you will be unable to separate them from small pieces of yourself.”

    Now the Mennonite Weekly Review has published a sensitive review that highlights not only the strengths of Darcie’s writing, but a profound understanding of the themes of Mennonites Don’t Dance:

    Hossack captures well the mien of the descendants of the early Mennonite settlers in southern Saskatchewan faced with struggle after struggle to survive, sometimes winning, sometimes losing, not realizing they have choices about attitude even when they seem to be losing….

    These people, like the kittens in one story, suffocate and die when confined or break like delicate teacups when dropped. Yet there is a near-hidden shining to them. Mixed in with their frailties are love of family, prayer, thankfulness, generosity, faith and the ability to forgive even the ugliest actions, even murder….

    The stories are well written, with vivid imagery, by someone who knows well the rural prairies and the Mennonites who lived there. 

    You can read the Mennonite Weekly Review‘s assessment in its entirety here.

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