News for the film: ‘Til Death… and more!

It seems I’m putting up more news than fiction, but it is what it is.  The film I worked on last year and of which I am very proud has had some public breakthroughs as of late.  It is premiering at the Vancouver Short Film Festival and screening at the Whistler Film Festival this fall. This is very exciting for Maureen Bradley (producer) and Connor Gaston (director) as well as the whole crew of the fantastic short. Here are some links to whet your appetite:

Of course you could also click on the upper bar “the making of…” on this blog (look up). I’m credited as Casting Director, Foley Artist, and Key Grip (chief lighting guy) and listed on IMDB- which thrills me.

I’m also delighted to say that I’ll be working on a feature film in the spring too- and perhaps a web series, I’ve finished my new play- Boys Cruise, and I’m ready to start final production and layout of a short graphic novel- Man in a Pinstripe Suit, commissioned (essentially) by the uber-talented multi-media artist and novelist Lee Henderson (The Man Game)  Very exciting times. Now, back to fiction… 

Last Fall: A short review of my play by a noted and well-respected actor

How many ways can you say ‘existential’?  Sheldon delivers an amazingly haunting play in the style of J. P. Sartre (No Exit) and S. Hoselton (Clouds). Two strangers trapped in a dilemma from which there is no escape; only certain death. And yet there is a form of salvation and even comfort as the strangers come to understand and accept their realities and consequently their fates.  But the point is nobody gets out of here alive.  ‘Here’ happens to be a residential garage; probably in the suburbs.  

            Very smart props including a portable engine, steering wheel and bucket seats with shabby fabrics. Upholstery is big in this play!  

            This is a very clever, well produced play.  Great blocking, skilled and carefully measured pacing, economical and efficient sets, sparse and effective props. The dialogue is compelling and you should see these young actors deliver.


Joseph A. Calenda, MCIP (Rtd), DTM

The Frying Pan into the Fire

I used to be a lawyer, heard the jokes. Nobody cared that I worked like a dog, earned a decent salary to pay my mortgage, made the right decisions, and spent a third of my time doing pro bono work for clients who would never be able to pay me. When I went to a cocktail party or joined my friends for coffee I had to endure the brunt of the latest lawyer joke, became the unintentional good-natured embodiment of the bottom-dwelling-scum-sucker.

Then I became a writer. Writers are a generous lot, empathetic and inclusive. We share writing contest URLs, support each others’ work, and voluntarily submit our darlings to peer criticism in the interest of intellectual growth and critical improvement. Foregoing most reasonable expectations of monetary return, we put ourselves out there to explore the breadth and depth of human experience and hope that we’ll find ourselves at the near edge of something important, something new.

I enrolled in university, entered the fine arts (writing) program with students three decades my junior exactly thirty years after graduating from law school. I diligently attend all of my classes, complete my homework assignments and do my required readings, participate in workshops, and generously critique the work of my peers. I keep up with a half-dozen literary journals, critically analyze the bi-monthly submissions of The New Yorker Magazine, discuss the latest critical writing in Harper’s and The Economist, and read a novel a week. Learning.

It all sounds very haughty and honourable until someone asks what I do. “Oh, that’s so cool,” is the most common reply, followed immediately by “I’m thinking of writing a book too.” And there’s the rub. I’m thinking of writing a book too. And often when they retire. It’s an appealing picture, rocking away on the front porch, looking out at a calm sea, with a quill in hand. Anyone can do it. Just words. You earn the right by living to a certain age, acquire the skill by simply being alive long enough. Spend your days poking around in someone’s mouth filling cavities and analyzing decaying enamel and you’ve earned the right to put your thoughts on paper and sell ten thousand copies to an adoring fan base. I get it, I really do.

There was a day, not so many generations ago when a person aspired to a single career, one that would take her from teen through old age without a break, without so much as a moment of doubt. Those days are long gone, replaced by a new reality- that we’ll each pass through numerous occupations and aspirations, dictated by a rapidly changing world as much as an enlarged perception of our individual impact on the universe. And I think this is a wonderful thing, an opportunity to stretch one’s wings and fly through one’s life with a level of diversity and engagement never before possible. I endorse the new, the adventurous, the far reaching. As a matter of fact, I’m thinking that when I retire from the writing life, I might take up dentistry. Set up a comfy chair on the porch, put on some Charlie Mingus, and dive into those nasty cavities with some modeling clay and a glue stick. The line starts from the left.


LAST FALL production announcement

For those of you who call Victoria home:

LAST FALL opens for an exclusive three night run this Wednesday (Oct 16 thru 18, 2013) at the Phoenix Theatre on Ring Road. As the writer, I’m quivering with anticipation at seeing my characters come to life. The director, dramaturge, set design team, and stage manager have outdone themselves. The actors are simply amazing. If the rehearsals I’ve seen are any indication of the final product, the performances will be stellar.  Congratulations all. Be brave! Be bold! And break a leg (each)!


Alice Munro is the reason I have this fiction blog. While that is not entirely true, neither is it entirely fiction.

            I used to think of myself as a novelist.  I was a lawyer, a recovering lawyer, and then after a considerable period of self-doubt, I called myself a writer. I became a writer when I finished my first novel and could no longer justify denying my ambition. One cannot write a novel without being a novelist. One cannot be a novelist without being a writer.

            I was therefore a writer when I enrolled in the BFA (writing) program at UVIC. Immediately academia began to whittle down my self-proclaimed novelist designation. One cannot write a novel each week to workshop with one’s peers. One must write short stories.

            My history with short stories had been, well, short. Hemingway, and miscellaneous bits and pieces of things left lying around doctors’ offices and law firm reception areas, the odd inherited literary journal, and my biweekly subscription to The New Yorker magazine.

            At university, a prose-writing program in fiction is a short story course. It may be entitled THE NOVEL, but it is the novel as seen in bite-sized pieces- for better or for worse, short stories. I’ve taken several such novel courses, and several acknowledged short story courses, notably delivered by respected and admired published short story authors Lee Henderson and Madeline Sonik.

            I am privileged to have the support of my family that allows me to indulge my desire for formal education and to have the support of the extraordinarily competent writing faculty and sessional instructors at the University of Victoria. I wonder, though, what the faculty would be like without those who smashed through the commercial and practical limitations of publishing short stories before me, without those like Alice Munro.

            Like Alice Munro. Who is like Alice Munro? In terms of her impact on the program I attend, I believe there is no one like Alice Munro.  “Don’t expect to see a big advance on your first compilation of short stories,” My professor said.  “Don’t expect to see a big advance on the second or third one either.”  Short stories don’t sell. Compilations of short stories don’t sell. They’re enticements- readership builders. Marketing devices. Warm-up bands. Paintings in the hallway on the way to the main gallery. Oh, unless you’re Alice Munro.

            By now the entire literary world knows that Munro won the Nobel prize for literature. The first resident Canadian ever to do so. And a woman. And a Westerner- from our side of the Rockies. And a short story writer. Thank you, Alice, thank you. We’ve not met, though you call my city home. We’ve not talked, though I buy my books at the store that bears your name. We’ve not collaborated, though I study the short story and post short fiction to my blog- my short fiction blog, from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, an half-kilometer from Munro’s Books.

            Alice Munro is a literary technician beyond my ambition, a people’s writer, and a talent to be admired. She’s as good as they come, reputed to be humble and worthy, and a true Canadian hero. Today Canada stands proud and one notch more respected in the literary world. Today my full curriculum of short story courses at UVIC is somehow more relevant than it was one week ago.

            Congratulations Alice.