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Pickle Me This

October 14, 2020

STAR TO FALL Tea Blend

The OFFICIAL tea blend of WAITING FOR A STAR TO FALL is now for sale from Clearview Tea. An organic black tea blend featuring vanilla, bergamot and rose petals, the tea is the perfect complement to my novel—and it’s delicious. Thanks so much to Clearview Tea for this fun partnership.

October 13, 2020

Gleanings


My book comes out in two weeks, but the OFFICIAL TEA BLEND (of course) launched today. Visit my Instagram or Facebook page for a chance to win a bag for you and a friend.

October 5, 2020

Waiting for a Star to Fall: THE SOUNDTRACK

The question of why I insist on making playlists for my novels is definitely one worth asking, especially since all they really do is reveal me as a person whose taste in music is atrocious. But having come to terms with this fact, I can share that music is a really huge part of my process, of my entire life, and certain songs find their way into my fiction as a kind of subtle biography. These connections are rich and meaningful to me, not to mention catchy as all-get-out.


“Waiting for a Star to Fall,” by Boy Meets Girl

There was a really long period where the song “I Know You By Heart” from the soundtrack to the movie Beaches was in my head, and I can’t quite remember why. This was during the winter/spring of 2018, when I was thinking a lot about the plot of my novel even before setting down a word, and I was doing both of these things (having the song in my head and imagining the book) while I was swimming lengths at the pool.

But the weird thing was that “I Know You By Heart” in my head always ended up morphing into “Waiting For a Star To Fall,” famously the theme from hit film Three Men and a Little Lady.

It all made some more sense when I googled and found out they were written by the same songwriting team (Boy Meets Girl!), and then I spent that summer actually writing the book while obsessively listening to “Waiting for a Star to Fall” on Youtube. I was addicted, to this song and also others with saxophone solos, but mainly Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street,” and then eventually Youtube’s algorithm started following “Waiting for a Star to Fall” with “Right Down the Line,” by Gerry Rafferty, which didn’t have a saxophone solo, but found its way into the DNA of the book I was writing.

All of this seems kind of random, I know, but then it gets even weirder. That December, my novel was still untitled (it went through a stage of being called “The Fall” or “This Downfall”) and I went to my friend Marissa’s 40th birthday party, for which she’d created a Spotify playlist, and “Waiting for a Star to Fall” came on, as a poppy ’80s tune might, and then it was directly followed by “Right Down the Line,” by Gerry Rafferty. What the heck?? Two songs not especially connected by era or genre, and one of them definitely didn’t appear on the soundtrack to Three Men and a Little Lady. I was a little drunk and sent a hysterical text message to my husband, who worked from home one day a week and knew my secret—that I basically listened to “Waiting for a Star to Fall” and “Right Down the Line” on a loop all day long.

It was really weird and excellent, and then in early January I realized that “Waiting for a Star to Fall” was actually the book title I’d been searching for, for the reference to a political superstar meeting his downfall, but also because the song is all about unrequited love and somebody who is waiting for impossible things, which my book is all about.


“How Will I Know?” by Whitney Houston

The Boy Meets Girl duo (Shannon Rubicam and George Merrill) wrote so many great songs, among them some of Whitney Houston’s greatest hits. “How Will I Know?” is one my favourite songs to sing at karaoke, and it definitely conjures themes of my novel, about being young and unsure when it comes to love—especially since feelings can’t always be trusted.


“A Case of You,” by Joni Mitchell

I don’t know that I have ever written a less autobiographical work of fiction than Waiting for a Star to Fall (my protagonist doesn’t read!!) but I was able to tune in to all my own early 20s angst and longing to strike the right note with my character. This song meant a lot to me in those days, and the part about the guy who is as “constant as a northern star/ constantly in the darkness” tied in well with my story and the celestial imagery.


“Laid,” by James

When I started going out to bars, this song was a mainstay, and I loved it for its aspirational qualities, though it was far from the realities of my experience most of the time. I definitely conjure those days in my novel’s depiction of the small town bar experience (Lanark’s notorious bar Slappin’ Nellies is probably recognizable as Peterborough’s Trasheteria circa 2000) and the best thing is that the nostalgic obsession of modern times means this ’90s track is not so out of place.


“I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing,” by Aerosmith

Yes, more ’90s, but my protagonist’s love interest is my age, so it fits. He’s a cheesy dude and his favourite movie is Armageddon, and this song appears on the soundtrack—and it kind of sums up his intense approach to life and all things.


“Right Down the Line,” by Gerry Rafferty

I love this song, but it’s kind of a crime, as are all songs like these, these songs that convince women that their role is to wait and serve in relationships with men, “to put something better inside of [their partners],” and that a bare recognition of this fact should suffice as repayment for the enormous debt this incurs. Do you ever wonder how your life might have been different had you not come of age on these tropes? I also always wondered if Rafferty’s “You’ve been as constant as a northern star, the brightest star that shines” was somehow in conversation with Mitchell’s. (Essential to note: I eventually paid for digital copies of this song and “Waiting for a Star to Fall,” and no longer am I constantly streaming Youtube.)


“Let the River Run,” by Carly Simon

When my protagonist was a little girl, she used to watch her mother’s VHS copy of Working Girl, and then pretend to be a career woman by turning her family’s dining room table into a desk. (Please see Clementine Ford’s Instagram stories for a deep dive into why Working Girl is a very problematic feminist classic, another trope that works its ways into our veins to fuck us over. ) Carly Simon’s song was the best thing about this movie, except for Joan Cusack’s hair, and I still find the lyrics profoundly moving and poignant: (and yes, there is celestial imagery): “We the great and small/ Stand on a star/ And blaze a trail of desire/ Through the dark’ning dawn.”


“The Boys of Summer,” by Don Henley

This has been one of my favourite songs for years and years, and it was long out of date even by the time that I started loving it. This appears in the novel when my protagonist is missing the guy she loves and goes driving by his house even though he’s not home.


“Invincible,” by Pat Benatar

An abortion takes place in my novel (of course it does!) and the woman who experiences it is strong and secure in her experience because she’s cared for by her friends through it all. Like this character, I also watched The Legend of Billie Jean and ate ice cream cake after my abortion in the company of my pals, and this song is from the soundtrack. (I wrote about this here: “Abortion Baskin Robbins“)


“Be My Baby,” by The Ronettes

Brooke has never seen Dirty Dancing before until one afternoon when she watches it with her roommate, Lauren, summoned to their living room by this song with the opening credits. Its brave and radical abortion story-line is still radical even more than 30 years later, which is a travesty, but it provides my book with a pivotal plot point.


“Brilliant Disguise,” by Bruce Springsteen

There is a reference to a brilliant disguise in the novel when Brooke goes out to Slappin’ Nellies with her roommate and gets dressed up in uncharacteristic style—would Derek recognize her? Definitely a fitting song about duplicitousness and how we can be fooled by the people we love.


“Two Princes,” by Spin Doctors

Naturally, the novel’s climax takes place at Slappin’ Nellies, where it’s Retro ’90s Night. Why are we so hungry for nostalgia? But oh, we are, as this playlist attests. I met my husband at a Retro ’90s Night and we danced to this song together, and it was only 2002. Retro becomes retro so quickly.


Bonus Track: “I Know You By Heart,” by Bette Midler

I actually think this song was in my head because the book I wrote before Waiting for a Star to Fall was about female friendship and had a Beaches vibe. I am back at work on the manuscript now and hope one day to share it with the world.


Bonus: “Good As Hell,” by Lizzo

And yes, because my novel set in contemporary times deserves ONE SONG that came out this century. I think this song serves as a nice counterpoint to all those tunes about being constantly in the darkness, and yes, of course there’s a star: “You know you a star, you can touch the sky/ I know that it’s hard but you have to try/ If you need advice, let me simplify/ If he don’t love you anymore/ Just walk your fine ass out the door.”

If I had had this song twenty years ago, my early twenties might have been a lot less stupid.


October 2, 2020

Launch Week!

25 days until my book comes out!

In lieu of having a launch party, I am going to do what I do best, and stretch out celebrations into a whole entire launch WEEK, with lots of opportunities for you to be part of it.

Festivities kick off Sunday October 25 with the Turning the Page on Cancer Readathon. I will be one of many readers across the country sitting down with a book for eight straight hours, a fantastic feat of endurance (ha ha. Will I be doing a sleepathon next?) in order to raise funds and awareness to support people living with metastatic breast cancer.

How you can take part: Sign up for your own readathon. Donate to my fundraiser. Or just cheer me on via social media during the main event.

Monday October 26: Official Cake Party: I can live without a book launch party, but I cannot live without a fancy book launch cake. Fancy cake is on order. I am excited!

How you can take part: Have your own cake and eat it too. Make or purchase the cake you wish to see in the world. Watch for my cake on social media.

Tuesday October 27: Read-In and Win: OFFICIAL PUB DATE! A big day, especially for those of you who got your pre-orders in. Even more than a book launch party, to be honest, I am in love with the idea of readers across the continent curling up with my newly-released book.

How you can take part: Take a selfie of you reading WAITING FOR A STAR TO FALL, and share it online for a chance to win a $100 gift card to Inner Muse.

Wednesday October 28: Super Cool Live Event (TBA)

How you can take part: Stay tuned for my exciting announcement soon

Thursday October 29: Book Drunkard Festival Event with Bianca Marais. I’m so excited to be part of Blue Heron Books‘ festival this year!

How you can take part: Tickets for our event are $30 and include the cost of the book. Buy your ticket today!

Friday October 30: Official Champagne Toast. In which we pop open a bottle, and toast to a week well spent.

How you can take part: I appreciate all your virtual “Cheers!” Best delivered in your pyjamas, because it’s Friday night in a pandemic after all. And then we go to bed to read…

September 21, 2020

Looking forward to Waiting for a Star to Fall

36 days until Waiting for a Star to Fall arrives on bookstore shelves!

I’m very happy that the novel has appeared on Fall book previews at CBC Books, the Toronto Star, and this weekend at the Globe & Mail.

I’ve been looking forward to this book for a very long time now, and it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one.

Pre-order your copy today!

August 19, 2020

Cover Reveal

So pleased to share the beautiful cover for my novel Waiting for a Star to Fall, coming on October 27. The designer is Terri Nimmo and she’s done the most incredible job. The book is now available for pre-order as a paperback, ebook or audiobook. I hope you love it.

September 24, 2019

Preoccupations

In my blogging life, I’ve made a point of trying not to apologize for the focus of my posts. I think that a sustainable blog should be about what one’s life is about, or even that it has to be about that in order to be sustainable. So we shouldn’t worry about our blogs being all about our new babies, or our illnesses, or vacations, at least not if these are what our lives are all about. Whatever our preoccupations: we get to blog them. And for me, lately, those preoccupations have been all the things that I’m making—Blog School, Briny Books, and working on revising my novel, which is due partway through October. The novel in particular, which I’m focussing on for 90 minutes every weekday by blocking social media apps on my phone and my laptop and getting down to business. I spent most of last week making notes on my manuscript, adding my editor’s with them, asking questions, and suggesting possibilities. Kind of like marking out the space in a field where the work must be done, where to get digging, and this week that work has begun in earnest, and I love it. This might be my favourite part of the entire novel writing process (but then I think I say that about every part of the novel writing process). Still discovery, just as the first draft is, but instead of discovering plot points and twists, I’m discovering patterns and connections that I might not have seen the first time around. Adding depth and texture to the story I’m telling, and so much it seems like it’s beyond my control. As though I’m merely a conduit. Such as the part I figured out yesterday, the familiar and yet archaic word that my character ponders the meaning of. I don’t actually know the meaning either, so I looked it up, and the definition of the word turned out to be precisely one of the central images of the entire book, as revealed in the final third. I had no idea, but the book knew. And my job at the this point is just to let all these connection happen and allow the light to come through.

September 6, 2019

Book News: Waiting for a Star to Fall

It is with more joy than you can imagine that I write you with the news that my second novel, Waiting For a Star to Fall, will be published next summer in Canada and the US by Doubleday Canada.

For fans of Joanne Ramos and Zoe Whittall, and Emily Giffin, a sensationally gripping and resonant new novel about a young woman caught in the midst of a political scandal.

When political superstar Derek Murdoch is brought down by decade-old allegations of sexual misconduct, his on-again/off-again girlfriend Brooke is left to process the situation. Derek’s reputation is being dragged through the mud because of his propensity for dating much-younger women who work for him–but Brooke knows the situation is more complicated than that. Never mind that she was once his young employee too. . . .

As the public makes up its mind about Derek, Brooke is forced to re-examine the story of her relationship with him–a position made even more complicated by the fact that she and Derek are now estranged after a heartbreaking betrayal. She’s shared the reason of their breakup with no one–but now she fears it may rise to the surface.

Torn from the headlines, Waiting for a Star to Fall is a novel for the #MeToo era, an absorbing story that examines the complex dynamics of politics–and sexual politics–and questions the stories we tell about people in the public eye, and the myth-making of men.


Two years ago (or thereabouts), my friend May bought me a bought that said NOVELIST on it, a title I’d always felt strange assuming, because it seemed kind of presumptuous. even if I had just published my first novel. (Maybe it was all just a fluke?)

I’ve always been a bit wary of this idea that it matters what you call yourself at all, because it’s what you do that counts, not who you are. As a person who writes a lot, I have a certain impatience listening to writers try to justify not writing, and how you’re still a writer anyway when you don’t, blah blah blah. What if instead of having this conversation, I would think, you just sat down and actually wrote something?

Now I understand where this kind of sentiment comes from, the ways in which many women have trouble assuming authority or owning their experience, undermining themselves, the same way that Shirley Jackson was just a housewife. But it’s still putting the cart before the horse, I think, to imagine that learning to call one’s self a writer or “novelist” is even remotely the answer to the question of how to get to be a published author. (I read an old, old pre-Pickle blog post recently in which I worried that I’d spent far more time thinking about being a writer than actually writing. I was definitely on to something there…)

But even still, over the past two and a half years—as my first novel came into the world, and then I wrote two more books, and faced rejection and uncertainty about my future as a writer at all (let alone a “novelist”)—that mug served me a kind of talisman. That I was also doing the work of writing is fundamental to this story, but I came to understand how important it can be to own this little piece of legitimacy, even if it’s one that’s carved into a mug. But it mattered. It helped me keep going—and possibly keeping going is more vital to success than anything else in the world, that which can be written on a mug and otherwise.

And the other thing that helped me keep going was, as always, my blog, particularly this year, which I entered without a real sense of anything to look forward to creatively, and so I decided to delve back into the DIY blogging ethos and make those things to look forward to myself. After years of talking about creating an online blogging course, I decided to go for it—Blog School launches September 16. I also dreamed Briny Books into being, which turned out to be an altogether successful project, a triumph, even—the second round of seasonal selections will be coming your way in October.

And then to have a book deal, with the publisher/editor of my dreams, even, on top of that? More goodness than a person could ever ask for, really, and all of this a reminder that when all seems lost and hopeless, getting off the floor where you’ve been lying curled up in the fetal position is probably the best thing to do eventually.

Who knew?

Pre-Order my New Novel: Out October 27

Book Cover WAITING FOR A STAR TO FALL

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