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Saturday, November 2, 2013

National Novel Writing Month Has Lured me Yet Again.



You could ask "why in the hell are you doing it again this year? After all, what happened to the previous six?"

Well then I'll tell ya - the other six, along with 3 x 3DNs,  kick around in their flashy, specially purchased binders. I know they are there and I also know that, like Mozart when he composed a new sonata, I must (hypothetically - or subconsciously) dip into those earlier draft novels for snips and snaps. They act like my memory bank.

Of course NaNo is not the marathon that 3DNC is. There you need to get the bugger done in 3 days. This one gives you 30. At current rate I'll be done in three weeks, that's good, because I do have a life too. That includes compiling a fundraising canine cookbook. And then there's the big birthday bash which is supposed to be a surprise.

But in addition to all of the benefits of taking part in this 270,000 (approximate) international group write-in, there is an indulgence in saying, "sorry, can't come to your something-or-other, I have another novel to write." There is also the feeling of getting-it-done-now because who-knows-what-tomorrow-will-bring.

So this time, as I approach my three score years and ten, this novel will have strong memoir elements. I haven't called it confessions of a Canine Cookbook Compiler for nothing. At day 3 it is already packed with previously untold stories, personal secrets, no real biggies - but things I've chosen to keep private. 'Til now.

I've been told I've had an interesting life, so I'm letting you in on some of it, before I launch myself to the next stage, because guys and gals, it ain't over 'til the buxom lady warbles.


Follow my wordcount progress: 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

In the Ascent

In the Ascent

It really feels like an ascent.  Still climbing, the clouds almost touchable, the view becoming quite extraordinary and still not out of breath.  It has been a busy year.

The arts and literary magazine ArtAscent appeared on the international scene early summer.  The theme, appropriately, emergence. I'd just written a story of the same title as part of my online writing group's weekly muse.  So I sent it in to ArtAscent. I was delighted when was accepted for publication. And then I was paid! More delight!


ArtAscent, a bimonthly journal carries no outside advertising, is a magazine with a classy feel and even classier look.  It is a keeper.  All contributors get their contact and web details published alongside their art or writing. The editorial staff are superb.  It is also timeless in a way; unlike other magazines, previous issues can be purchased.

So, having found myself in the very first issue, I was not to be daunted when the call for submissions was announced for the second and thought I'd give my photo art a chance. I toyed for hours with the images, using fancy software to manipulate them into something with clever messages etc. But in the end I felt they had to go off in their own honesty. The theme was Mother Earth. The photos were taken on the red sands shore of Prince Edward Island this May. Sent them in. Held my breath. Three images were accepted, two in the centre-fold and one finished up on the back cover of the mag.  The camera?  An old Nikon Coolpix I won in a draw in 2007!


Issue # three's call for submissions left me pondering. Figures was the theme, as many of you know I have a mountain of life drawings going back over 20 years. Should I send a couple? Give my 2D art a chance?  In the end I wrote about my mother and her sequence dancing. I stumbled over of the details and technicalities of the dance form. I emailed the draft manuscript to Mum. She reviewed it, made suggestions and emailed it back. She will have her 90th birthday in December. The story was accepted. It is called The Sequence Dance. I have never been more thrilled. It is her success too.






So, still in the ascent I am now fitted with all the climbing gear I could possibly need to reach my goal - it's called confidence and courage of my own convictions. For that gift I thank ArtAscent.

Issue #1 June 2013
Issue #2 August 2013
Issue #3 October 2013





Friday, October 18, 2013

Knickers


Press release: 


From: Susan Borgersen, 1 902 677 2899, authorsue@hotmail.com

For immediate release



Local Author’s Work has International Impact


A pale April early morning light hovers on the window ledge.  In the maple tree outside the bedroom window, the chickadees add an enthusiasm that does not match mine. Ready to stumble into yet another busy day, I fumble for my clothes. But freeze with my knickers in my hands. I’ve never really given them any thought before. I generally just rake them on, pull on jeans and sweater then hot-foot it to the kitchen to get things underway for yet another day. 
This is the opening paragraph to a story local author Sue Borgersen submitted to an international anthology publisher this summer. It was written shortly after the tragedy that hit the clothing factory in Bangladesh. In the creative non fiction piece, Sue compares conditions there now with Stanfield’s here in Nova Scotia 100 years ago. She called the piece Knickers.
“I don’t generally write non fiction,” says Borgersen, “but this was something I was compelled to do. I was shaken by the tragedy. I had no intention of submitting it anywhere for publication. But I did. Then I was blown away when I heard it [the story] had been accepted.” 
The anthology, Foreign and Far Away, explores the relationship between people and the landscapes and settings they live in.  An eclectic range of writing evokes the diversities, similarities, connections and misunderstandings of life in foreign places through 38 short stories, 37 non-fiction articles and 19 poems from expat authors and poets around the world and was launched worldwide on Monday.
But Sue received an email from Bangladesh last week, the day another ten deaths occurred in a factory fire. It was from the spouse of the EU Ambassador, who is currently fighting to get improvements in the Ready-Made Garments Sector.  ...Your story will be read at the launch here in Bangladesh on Monday... 
“So the story did find the right place in the end. If it gives people cause to think, even act, then it and I will have done our jobs. For me, that is the real job of an author, whether it be fiction or otherwise,” says Borgersen.
Book Aid International will benefit from the proceeds of the anthology. This charity increases access to books and supports literacy, education and development in sub-Saharan Africa. They provided 543,280 new books to over 2,000 libraries in 2012 and have sent more than 30 million books to partner libraries since 1954. For more about Book Aid International, see www.bookaid.org. . 
Foreign and Far Away is available via Amazon at a price of $10.99. Contributors live in, and have written about, more than 50 countries across every continent.
Sue Borgersen is a long-standing member of the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia and the international writing group, Expat Writers.
For more on Sue’s work go to www.sueborgersen.com



Friday, September 20, 2013

I Was in Labour for Three Days


For me, the International Three Day Novel Contest is akin to a surprise pregnancy. I say surprise because I am always shocked that I actually fall. Again.

3DNC is reported as being ‘not for the faint-hearted’. If that’s the case I must be a bit of a hard-hearted old biddy because this was my third time.

It costs $50 to put yourself through the roller coaster of joy, torture, euphoria, gloom, delight, exasperation and a whole host of other worthy emotions. It is also a commitment; you are not going to cough up the fifty bucks and then not do it. Are you?

It is always held, appropriately, Labour Day Weekend, so I can only assume it was first intended, 36 years ago, for lonely people as an alternative to a family/friends gathering for the last fling of summer. Don’t worry, I’m well blessed with family and friends which is just as well as you need the full support of your nearest and dearest. They’re the ones who make sure you’re fed and watered at intervals; when you’re sequestered away from midnight Friday to midnight Monday, writing your little socks off, you don’t want to die of starvation. Do you?

This year I signed up but had no inspiration. I had no clue what the ‘novel’ would be. Nada. But just over a week before, I was picking around in a local antique store and tripped over some old (very old) cancelled passports. There was a curiousness about them. A novelly smell. The fact they’d been kept in a box with old id cards and photos. And the fact that they had been issued in Valparaiso, Chile. I held the inspiration in my hands. The two passports cost me twenty bucks. I’d now spent $70 on this this nebulous novel.

By midnight Friday I was champing at the bit, foaming at the mouth, spitting tacks: in short - raring to go. After nine short days of waiting, the labour pains kicked in. I couldn’t wait to write my opening sentence and to get to know my protagonist. So before I hit the hay that night, all I wrote was:



And with that I happily toddled up to bed and slept like a babe, unlike previous 3DNCs when my midnight oil-burners charred down to their final flicker. When I woke after eight the next morning, chapter one was already rattling through my head. The weekend was cathartic. It was a journey into chinks of memory, to realms of imaginary meals and illuminating conversations, to settings only possible with the help of ‘google street view’.

I also had no idea that Gordon’s father would turn out to be a bigamist.

By 10.30 pm on Monday night I typed -The End - I was done.  A new draft novel, albeit a tad underweight, was born. The following morning it was emailed off with its witness statement to defend its future. Its sentence I will not know until next Spring. In a strange way, letting it go so swiftly has left me feeling bereft. At a loss.

Passport to Perdita wouldn’t exist without this challenge. If it were a NaNo novel it would certainly be different (having 30 days instead of 3 creates a different rhythm) - and there is no money to part with either, so - the commitment is not necessarily quite so acute. And unlike a NaNo novel which is a private/personal manuscript - the 3DN will be read.

So I now have three 3 Day Novels: Minerva’s Letters, Gecekondu, and Passport to Perdita. They are like my children, one (Gecekondu) has left home now and is doing the publishers’ circuit. 

You incubate them; these characters, these stories, these situations. You live intensely with them, always hoping they will take flight. And then when they do...

...of course, there’s always Nano kicking off in six weeks or so. But do I really want to add a sixth nano novel to the dusty pile?

A little congratulatory gift to myself

Saturday, August 10, 2013

"Be careful what you say..."


“Be careful what you say, she’s a writer, you may get quoted in one of her novels.”
  
I hear this a lot lately. And in a way this follows on from Maggie’s blog regarding carrying a notebook. As I struggle to get more exposure of my work, I find I’m open to yet more scrutiny locally.  We can’t win, can we. That wasn’t a question - more a statement. With most of my publishing successes comes a little ra-ra-ra in the local paper - and that makes it even worse.

The life of a writer can be a lonely one; if we let it.  We need to get out and about, mix with the folks out there, hear them talk and tell their tales. Watch their faces, their smiles, their grimaces. And then, they were absolutely right, somewhere deep in the archives of the scruffy notebook in an anorak pocket, or shelved away in the ever expanding memory bank - is that nugget of a statement, or that haunting look in the eyes, or the malice in the gritted teeth. Into the novel it will go. Sure as eggs is eggs. You can’t remember from whence it came, but it was worth hanging on to. It is valid writing material.

I once put up for auction the chance to be a named character in one of my novels. It was a fundraiser for a volunteer festival.  And the bids came pouring in. I can’t remember exactly how much money it made. But I do remember the winning bidder.  He/she was a character I just did not want in my novel at all, his/her name was just fine, quite literary in fact - but try as I might I couldn’t get away from his/her idiosyncrasies.
    
An example of having all  I needed on a platter and it just didn’t work, I would rather have been a fly on a wall, an observer with a secret notebook, or watching a couple in a supermarket checkout fighting over yoghurt flavours.

The novel also included a bottle of Hpnotiq.  It sat in my ‘fridge all sparkling and Aegean blue.  When my lovely hunny-bun returned from his hard toil in the salt mines that evening he said, “what’s that?”

“Research,” I said, “for the novel.”

“Does this novel have any sex scenes,” he said, “if so, can we do some research?”

The novel, written for the Thee Day Novel Contest - also known as 3DNC (held every year on the Labor Day Weekend), I called Minerva’s Letters. It gathers dust somewhere, waiting for a rewrite and an injection of exciting characters.

I suppose I could go and sit in the local garage where the guys - mostly old (who don’t read papers - or novels either for that matter) chew the fat and put the world to rights. There are stories there for the picking. But would they clam up if roll up my jeans, let a cigarette droop from my dry lips and drape myself on one of the old truck tires leaning against the greasy wall?

Monday, June 10, 2013

National Flash Fiction Day June 22nd


My thanks to Chris Galvin for the reminder:
International Flash Fiction Day is around the corner, and one way to celebrate is to join FLASH MOB 2013, a blog carnival and competition. See the end of this post for more information. In celebration of Flash Fiction Day, here is my FLASH MOB contribution:

Little Gem by S.B. Borgersen
He’d been in too many bars to count. But found his way, as if on auto pilot, to the pub on the village green: The Little Gem.
The red-headed barmaid let the moth out of the jar saying, “oh you’re back are you? Wondered if you’d ever show up.”
A past flickered through his befuddled brain. He saw her swollen belly. Then he remembered.




Today is the deadline for submissions to FLASH MOB 2013, but if you're quick, you might still have time to flash. Check out the contest rules  for information on how to enter.
Flash fiction knows no geographical, genre, gender or other boundaries, and the panel of judges reflects this: Robert Vaughan (USA), Leah McMenamin (New Zealand), Marcus Speh (Germany) and Nuala Ni ChonchĂșir (Ireland).
The organizers, too, "represent various points on the globe, and work across timezones and font styles to bring this flash mob event to you. Christopher Allen does all that he does from Munich, Germany but edits for the daily literary ezine Metazen, which is actually run from Canada. Linda Simoni-Wastila resides in greater Baltimore, Maryland where she writes, professes, mothers, and gives a damn, and in her spare time serves as Senior Fiction Editor of JMWWMichelle Elvy comes to us from New Zealand as editor of Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction and Blue Five Notebook, though her latitude and longitude change daily these days." (FLASH MOB 2013 | About)


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Extremes in the Writing Business

It’s a bit like a fairground. The writing business. So much is beyond your control.  At times, publishers could be akin to fairground ride operators. You know, the guys with the beer guts, sweaty arm pits and cigarettes clinging to papery lips. Taking your dollar bills while you climb aboard the dodgems or the helterskelter. Taking your chances. Putting your faith in their expertise, their wisdom. Hoping they’ll give you a safe ride.

I’ve climbed aboard a fair few writerly ‘rides’ recently. And yes, I handed over a few dollars in entry fees - not my normal modus operandi.  But it was time to send out some of my precious words to share with the bigger wide world. It has been a switchback of a month: two rejections and an acceptance. Is that like two strides backwards and a skip forwards?  It doesn’t feel like it. It feels like flying. Soaring to the heights. One acceptance.  An acceptance - oh yes sirree, someone somewhere liked my stuff enough to pay me fifty bucks for 400 odd words. The rejections are good for somewhere else, the potato story and the anthem to the 17 year old girl will find a place. Of that I am sure.

$50 plus a huge uplift (worth its weight in gold).

You can see it’s been a while since I was paid for my writing. Clocking up 1000 words a day means I’m working for far less than a far off knicker maker in the rag trade. But I’m grateful that I’m able to beaver away in a safe building. Very very grateful indeed. I’ve just whacked off an essay about my own knickers, the ones made in the factory that collapsed. The one where over a thousand workers died. I cry when I put them (my knickers) on. Not that that helps anyone, but I’m a sensitive emotional sort of writer, and I can’t help myself. I’ve just sent that (the essay, not my underwear) off to a lit mag too. As I said (or maybe I didn’t), it’s all about sharing.

Back to the acceptance piece. It emerged as a result of a challenge set by a member of my lovely online writing group. Interpretation of the challenge was wide open. So I popped the kettle on (it being my muse,) and the scribbling began. As so very often happens with my work, the ideas creep out of a song.  Emergence was written in the time it took to make and drink one cup of tea. An hour later a call for submissions on the theme of Emergence landed in my inbox. Serendipity? Of course I had to send it. How could I not?

And what d’ya know? It made the cut. Can’t wait to see the premier edition of the magazine itself.  Puffed up with pride, I am.

cover art by Anita Wexler


If you know your proverbs you’ll know what comes after pride. Yup, a fall. And yet again, something outside of a writer's control. Lulu made a blunder with the coffee table edition (the expensive one) of Distant Voices Talking Drums. Bound someone else’s morbid work in our cover.  They’ve apologised. Really. Apologised. Replaced the misbound copy. That’s it. So right now I‘m pushing the Amazon edition for Kindle.



I’ll not dwell on the falling stuff. I’ll keep the wings flapping. Keep on dodging the other dodgem cars, weeding out the publishers who don’t drink beer, sweat or smoke from papery lips and maybe one of these days I’ll get the call offering me an advance on my six draft novels.