Tag Archives: Lisa McGonigle

Blogs, articles, information, videos, etc. – the weekly offering …

From rea tarvydas: A Writer/Professional – Calgary author!

Two more articles by Lisa McGonigle, author of Snowdrift


and the inspiration for my recent blog post, Home and a sense of belongingNo Direction Home and Steadfast and True: Fernie Friends Reunited

On Writing
From wordserve water cooler: Get Thee to a Conference, Writer! by jandunlap
From The Writing Corp: Writing in the Real World by lindaricke
From The Writing Corp: People Like You by alicorndreams
From Writer Unboxed: When to Hold Em’ and When to Fold Em’: Knowing If Your Manuscript is Worth Fighting For by Heather Reid
From The Writing Corp: It’s Okay to Fail by Rowan

On Publishing
From The Shatzkin Files: The three forces that are shaping 21st century book publishing: scale, verticalization, and atomization

On Promotion
From 30-Day Book: Why I’m Totally Okay With Giving My Book Away Free by Dana Sitar
From Seth Godin: Frequency, repetition and the power of saying it more than once
From GalleyCat: How Indie Authors Can Work Together by Jason Boog
From Writer Unboxed: Hacks for Hacks: How to PWN Twitter by Bill Ferris

On eBooks and ePublishing
From Nathan Bransford: Who Owns E-book Rights From Old Publishing Contracts?

On Readers and Reading
From We Grow Media: Writers: Focus on Reader Discovery, Not Book Discoverability
From Publishing Perspectives: What Does “Post-Digital” Book Discovery Look Like?
From LeadersWest: How social media changed the dynamic between authors and readers by Joanne Clancy

On Blogs and Blogging
From Michael Hyatt: 3 Blogging Mistakes That Are Killing Your Traffic (video) and Headlines That Grab Readers by the Eyeballs and Suck Them into Your Message
From The Writing Corp: What We All Forget by Nesher Ehrman

Home and a sense of belonging

My writing pal, Lisa McGonigle, published an article, In It For the Long Haul, in the Feb. 2012 issue of The Fernie Fix about her long-distance lifestyle. I met Lisa several years ago at the Fernie Writers’ Conference, before she published Snowdrift, and I’ve followed her travels since that time.

This particular article resonated with me because, although my travels have not been as far-flung as Lisa’s, I have maintained two residences, one in Calgary and the other in Bequia, and spent these past five years flying back and forth between the two. Most of my worldly possessions have remained at the house in the Caribbean, along with the cats and Dennis, while I’ve moved around between Calgary apartments to house-sitting situations, accumulating more stuff in an attempt to make a home for myself in the city where I actually worked. Because of the nature of my business, I was able to manage three trips to Bequia every year, usually during their off-season. I told myself I didn’t mind the Calgary winters – really – and I was able to build a good business as well as an extensive network of friends and colleagues that always made me feel “at home” again every time I returned to Canada.

Unfortunately, my circumstances changed in the fall of 2012 and I decided to return to Bequia – at least for the winter months – and reassess my business and my life. I gave away most of what I’d accumulated over those five years, stored the rest in a locker as well as with several friends, and flew off at the end of November. (I have Vincentian citizenship, so I am allowed to stay there indefinitely. And the immigrataion and customs agents usually say, “Welcome home!” upon my arrival. I never hear that from Canadian officials.)

The plan was always to come back in April, because I had committed to giving a presentation at a Calgary library on the 12th. I’m also planning on attending my high school reunion in Toronto in May. I figured 7 weeks was lots of time to see everyone I needed, and wanted, to see and to visit with family.

The reality is, though, that Thomas Wolfe was right: You Can’t Go Home Again. Or once gone, easily forgotten? I feel as though I no longer belong in Calgary. People are too busy; appointments and dates are being cancelled; all plans I made previous to the trip have suddenly dissolved. It’s left me wondering why I’ve come back.

But then I never felt as though I belonged on Bequia either while I was there over the winter.

So now I really wonder where home is for me. Sometimes I think it’s in the air, on a plane, somewhere between Calgary and Bequia. If I were Lisa’s age (which is about half of mine), I would consider a new start in a brand new place, creating a new life for myself. New horizons, new possibilities.

But I find I’m too old for that now, so I’ll have to be content to live vicariously through Lisa as she continues on with the adventures of her own life. And create and invent reality in my mind by writing stories.

… when you remember that You are the author of Your own Life story, You enter into the beautiful process of becoming, as You should be, the author of Your own life, the creator of Your own possibilities …
Mandy Aftel

(And here’s another article about Lisa written by our mutual writing pal, Darcie Friesen Hossack.)

Blogs, articles, reviews, videos, inspiration, and a boot in the seat of the pants!

From Islam Abudaoud


From The Atlantic Wire
What Kind of Book Reader Are you?

From Off the Shelf Book Promotions
How to Build a Great Relationship With Your Local Bookstore

From Anne R. Allen’s Blog
Self-Editing 101 – 13 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Opening Chapter

From Masters in English
100 Essential Sites for Voracious Readers

From HuffPost Books
Omission, Insanity, and Half-Truths: Unreliable Narrators in Literature

From Kill Zone
What My Cat Has Taught Me About Writing

A review of Lisa McGonigle’s Snowdrift (and a recipe!) by Darcie Friesen Hossack, author of Mennonites Don’t Dance From Ski Bum to PhD

From Good eReader
The Digital Book Club – Long Neglected by Major eBook Companies

From Seth Godin
Hooked on Hacking Life

From Open Book Toronto
At the Desk: Ann Ireland

Some humour from GalleyCat
Performance Enhancing Drugs of the Literary World

From MetaFilter
The 100 best mystery novels of all time

From Glenn Dixon, a book trailer promoting his soon-to-be-released
Tripping the World Fantastic: a journey through the music of our planet

Snowdrift by Lisa McGonigle – how the book was written and published

This is a guest post, written by Lisa McGonigle:

Emails, ski-trails and book deals
You know how it goes, come to BC for one winter, stay for four…

In November 2005, I left my native Ireland to spend the ski-season in Fernie, BC. I worked the usual panoply of seasonal jobs – server, receptionist, daylodge cashier – and snowboarded as much as I could. But you know how, when you’re heading off on your travels, people hug you goodbye and mock-admonish you, “You’d better keep in touch now d’ya hear?” Right, I thought, tell me to keep in touch, oh I’ll keep in touch alright. In whatever snatches of time I had left between shredding and earning minimum wage, I wrote lengthy mass emails to my friends, 2000 to 3000 words each, about Fernie Alpine Resort, about the town of Fernie itself, about smashing myself repeatedly when in the terrain park, about duct-taping over the holes in my ski-gear, about the mind-blowing quality and volume of powder snow.

Anyway, one thing led to another and I never got round to leaving town come spring, as originally planned. I kept writing emails through all the adventures that ensued, including the brouhaha when I dropped out of a PhD at Oxford and came back to Canada to snowboard some more. Several leave-the-country-renew-my-visa-come-back-into-the-country dances with Immigration later, and I was still rattling around BC in spring 2009 when I saw a poster for the Fernie Writers Conference. Huh? I’d been writing emails as much for myself as for my friends (more, possibly) and occasionally I’d read back over them fondly, like the way you might flick through your digital photos in remembrance of glories and ignominies past. It occurred to me, however, that this sheaf of emails might just add up to something more than just a fond souvenir of the past few years. Indeed, when I did a quick word count they totaled 80,000. Whaddya know? Maybe I’d written a book without realizing it.

Still penniless, I applied for and was granted a scholarship to the Non-Fiction group of the conference. Thrilled as I was, having never been to any sort of writers’ event before, I was a little wary turning up on that first day, afraid there’d be a sea of “writerly” types trying to connect with their inner-child or reciting reams of sub-Dylanesque prose – “Rage! Rage!” – while staring moodily and intensely into the middle-distance.

Luckily my fears were unfounded. Our group was led by the reassuringly down-to-earth Sid Marty, and writers, it seems, are just ordinary people like you and me! The group included Carolyn, an ex-airline captain writing her memoirs, Jeanette, who was torn between writing up her family lore in fictional or non-fictional format, and Kyle who, like me, had chosen the way of the snow over a more structured path (in his case, law school) and was writing about his travels overseas.

Every morning we’d workshop up at Fernie Alpine Resort, sitting outside in the dry summer warmth that the Kootenays are blessed with, sharing feedback on each others’ work. In the afternoon we were free to either do our own thing or attend panels given by established authors and other figures from the publishing industry. For the uninitiated like myself, learning about editors’ selection criteria and what happens between book deal and bookshelf was like gaining an insight into the workings of the Freemasons. I was enrapt.

Encouraged by the group, on the Friday night of the conference I read part of my work aloud at an event in the Fernie Arts Station, and the following afternoon met with a sales rep and editor from Oolichan Books, both of whom had heard me read the night before. We went for a coffee, I gave them a brief outline of my story to date and they asked me to send them my manuscript, such as it was at that point.

Sending off my manuscript to a publisher? No big deal. Chatting with a sales rep about the likely target audience for the book? Sure, do it all the time. Ha! I wasn’t fooling even myself with such faux nonchalance. This was – and remains – the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me in my life. (To add to the surreality of events, at the time I was training for a marathon and that morning I’d been up at 5.30 a.m. to run sixteen kilometres before the arrival of the heat of the day, shouting “Woo hoo!” every couple of hundred metres to alert any lurking bears to my presence as I ran along the forest trails.) I was dizzy with tiredness and elation.

Oolichan emailed me back a few months later saying they’d be happy to publish the book, which was simply known as “the book” for an alarmingly long time before finally acquiring the title of Snowdrift. Man, the real adventures were only just about to start…

Lisa McGonigle is currently completing a PhD in Irish Studies at the University of Otago, New Zealand. Snowdrift is published by Oolichan Books (ISBN 9780889822719)