Self, applied

A blog post! That must mean something worth sharing has happened, or that I have some time on my hands (laugh, please).  It’s a happening, and more momentous than any M. Night Shyamalan flop. Sixteen months ago I wrote a blog post – Apply Yourself, Young Man – chronicling a new project and my hopeful grant application. I had a good feeling. Well, that was all a bit rushed, my application was a mess and no surprise it was not successful. But. Yes, there’s a but.

And you know, I thought I would have finished the project by now, but in those 16 months I’ve written only three of the stories (nearly 30,000 words, mind you). A writer friend with a day job asked, “But does money really help you write?”  Oh yes, it does. For one, you can relax. For two, you can relax the next day, and the day after. And by relax I mean not worry, because for me, at least, worry is what gnaws through the cord that lights any stick of creative dynamite.

So yes, this time the Canada Council came through. I resisted opening the envelope for five days. Please don’t ask for an explanation of my behaviour, though if you do want to psychoanalyze me I suggest you buy my book of dreams.  But please don’t judge me. Anyway, a friend, a fine, fine writer friend with an amazing book of short fiction coming out this spring, a friend who was also grant-positive, said, when I explained the virgin envelope, the size, shape, colour and smell of it, “Open the goddamn envelope!”

Thank you, jury. I shall write, and write well.

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Engine Failure @ Jerrod Edson

There’s a nice review of my story “A Survivor’s Guide to Engine Failure at 35,000 Feet” on Jerrod Edson’s site right here. Jerrod is a fellow New Brunswick author temporarily banished to Ontario (but he’s NB through and through, don’t forget it). From his review:

“Warwick’s voice is manic, yet altogether alive and authentic (imagine a Hunter S. Thompson / Barney Panofsky offspring and you’re headed in the right direction). His memories of the crash are honest and raw, and utterly void of any writerly bullshit”

Edson has a new novel coming out this spring. Watch for “The Moon is Real” with Urban Farmhouse Press.

New Fiction at Numéro Cinq

nc-logo-160x128While I wasn’t overly productive last year, churning out perhaps 15,000 words of fiction, which hardly deserves the word ‘churning’ but perhaps ‘scraping’, I did produce a couple of things I quite like.

This story came out of a title, which itself seemed to come from thin air while crafting a grant proposal. There are times when everything comes together and writing a story is a joy, or a toy, and nothing makes me happier than the chance to play around a little. This was one of those times.

I knew watching endless episodes of air crash investigations would pay off. (Certainly made flying to Elba and Banff and Spain much more exciting.)

So here is “A Survivor’s Guide to Engine Failure at 35,000 Feet.” It is the second of my Shabazz stories, a story of a flight gone wrong, a bit of jungle survival and a man in need of much therapy.

Many thanks to Numéro Cinq head everything Douglas Glover.

Whaling (a critique)

I’d considered calling this blog “Notes from an underpublished author” but worried I would somehow set my fate in concrete, jinx my last chance at writerly recognition, or that an agent or publisher would come along and say, “Sigh, a … Continue reading

Short Fiction at Numero Cinq!

It’s up now:

http://numerocinqmagazine.com/2014/08/09/a-serpent-fiction-lee-d-thompson/

It’s only the second time I’ve had a story published online, because I rarely (only twice) submit to online journals. Can’t be denied though the readership is there, waiting, growing, and the story should be available for years to come.

Thanks to NC editor Douglas Glover for liking this story. Loopy, I think, was one of the words he used to describe it.

Fascinating, too, that it’s published on the birthday of the ex girlfriend who inspired Chiara.

Loopy, even.

How to disappear completely (part II)

scoverbjpSix or so years ago I had the chance to talk with Yann Martel at a private party in Moncton. He’d taken part in a Frye Festival event – a fall Community Read around The Life of Pi  – and knowing his background in philosophy I asked him a question. See, he’d asked if I wrote and it turned out I did (surprise) and in fact my first book was to come out in a couple of months.  What’s it about?  I told him it was simply a book of dreams presented as a novel, though length wise and style wise it was closer to a book of prose poems. He asked if they were actual dreams or fictional dreams and I wondered aloud if there was a difference then specifically posed a question: If my book’s content is pretty much verbatim (?) accounts of dreams, dreams whose content I didn’t consciously create, is this then a work of fiction or non-fiction? Or do we need another category? He thought for a minute.

But you chose what to write down, how to write it, present it, so it’s fiction, he said.

I may have nodded (slowly).

I still think it needs its own category. Why? Because though I chose the ordering of the words, I didn’t choose the who, the what, the where (yet, who else chose those? ). I had been dreaming of the same event (break up) and person (S.) for over a year as if my mind had decided to take a vacation from reality, “I like it better here”, or was on some obsessive quest for explanations.

After playing with the idea of including these dreams in the novel I wanted to write (I’d been noting the dreams in my e-journal, or on paper in the middle of the night, sometimes just a few lines), I wondered how a novel of dreams would read/feel. Maybe it was record keeping, too.  I sold the idea, literally, to friends, supporters, wrote till the dreams stopped, printed and hand bound 26 subscriber copies of “S. a novel in [xxx] dreams”, had a launch and thought that would be the end of it (and it was the end of the dreams, fortunately).  But one of the subscribers was a reader for a publisher (Broken Jaw press), talked up the manuscript, and long story short a couple of years later it appeared again.

To this date the one book I didn’t intend for publication is the one book I’ve had published. Sadly I had little means to promote it at the time, and it’s a bit of an odd sell, and the publisher was barely hanging on, had no distribution, so even though only 400 copies appeared, I doubt more than half have been moved. Those who have read it, however, have experienced it the way I hoped: puzzled, amused, moved, frustrated, wanting more yet strangely satisfied…

When I was writing the book, the title kept changing – 40 dreams, 50 dreams, 60 dreams – so I just wrote “[xxx] dreams” after a while. The final count, I believe, is 69.

Interested in a copy? Click the image of the book, or write me.  There are some kind reviews on Goodreads, too.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6385209-s-a-novel-in-xxx-dreams

The early word gets the berm

20726769Fluky kid at bat for the win, pollsters. See here:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20726769-diary-of-a-fluky-kid

I like the encapsulation:

From a young age Lee D. Thompson lived and breathed baseball even if he didn’t take to the sport at first. Trouble was, as a bookish kid and a daydreamer, he was never really great at it. Thompson played in little league where he lived too much in his head to do much of anything but strike out.

Eventually he and his childhood friends started playing their own versions of the great game in backyards and basements, away from the pressures of organized sports. With no other teams to play against, winning became less important than the bonding between his friends and their fathers. When his own dad passes away suddenly at Christmas one year Thompson becomes acutely aware of these ties.

Diary of a Fluky Kid paints a coming of age story in nine innings along with poignant and humorous short stories from Thompson’s childhood.

E – Everyone over ten: Content is suitable for everyone but may contain mild violence and language and minimal suggestive themes

Pre-orders can be placed here: 

http://fierceinkpress.storenvy.com/products/5313967-diary-of-a-fluky-kid-ebook-by-lee-d-thompson

Official release is February 11.  I will be enkindled.

Riddle Fence 16

issue16 Today in Newfoundland just outside of St. John’s they are having a fabulous launch of Riddle Fence issues 15 & 16. I’m sure it’s fabulous, though maybe it’s fantastic. I have a story in 16, “The Spirit of Bill Will Forever Reside at Barney Springs,” one of those stories that began with a first line, a first that rolled out of my brain during conversation on a drive down a dark country road: “On my first full day at beautiful Barney Springs, my one on one poetry instructor, the sole reason I had come to Barney Springs, was dragged off and partly devoured by a Grizzly Bear.”  I sat on the idea for a year, perhaps. They would have to eulogize Bill, but none of them know Bill. A male, a female, an odd situation, some animals… Yup, definitely one of my stories.

It’s my third story in Riddle Fence.  I love those guys.  They pay handsomely as well.  And it’s too bad I can’t be there; my good friend Kerry-Lee Powell has poetry in issue 15.  It could have been a fine road (rowed) trip.

http://www.riddlefence.com/past-issues/issue-16