Found Writerly Advice #9

Death as motivator.

Yours, or someone else’s. Either does the trick.

Faced with your own mortality, you start to panic at the thought of leaving behind unfinished projects, or you actually realize, at last, that life is absolutely finite, and so you want to get your shit done before packing it in. Or a loved one dies and you’re clearing up their leftover life bits and you’re left to ponder about the shit they didn’t get done. Or a stranger dies and you see it, or hear about it, or are perhaps even holding their hand on the side of the road after having pulled them from a burning car and suddenly mortality in general becomes MORTALITY in the biggest, loudest sense of the word and you come away from that rainy dark night with an urgency that you’ve never truly felt before.

Put that to use.

Write it down.

And then keep writing.

Your book doesn’t get written if you don’t write it.

Continue reading

The Author Who Doesn’t Like To Read … her own stuff. Out loud.

It’s been a very tough bunch of months. Or a few bunches of months.

And I don’t really want to talk about it.

Instead, let’s read a story. Or, I will. In this case, probably a true tale about a boy who ended up with his head smashed in on a rocky river bank about 200 feet below where he should’ve been. At least I think that’s what I’m going to read. I don’t actually like reading out loud, which makes it hard to choose.

You can come hear me, an introverted writer who never reads out loud, read out loud for the first time in YEARS.
I never read at my author appearances because I don’t particularly enjoy listening to authors read their work unless it’s an audiobook. I usually tell stories or talk about writing and books, or ask folks if they have questions. We have a chat, usually.
Also, it seems that all my “short” fiction takes about 5 minutes longer to read than I have. Which is why I am now digging through my creative non-fiction.
Last resort will be novel excerpt, which is my least favourite thing to read out loud.

WHY? Because I cannot stand not knowing the parts before and after it, and so I don’t like doing that to other people.

The Writer’s Studio Reading Series featuring Carrie Mac


My copies of the brand new and very pretty German edition of “10 Things I Can See From Here” arrived!

Now, to find a good home for these lovelies . . . email me if you know of a queer youth group in Germany and I will happily donate them, except for the copy that I get to add to my collection of translations.

And if anyone knows this bookstore in Munich, let me know what it’s called, because I’d love to send them a copy. They are an easy 5 minute walk from the famous glockenspiel, along the pedestrian path. They had a big bin of English books which we dug through for ages, until Esmé came up with Twilight. Cringe. Ah, well.

Found Writerly Advice #8

Anne Lamot says that the first 100,000 words a writer produces are crap. She advises embracing that time to begin to suck less, and then to get better. After that many words, you will have one very valuable treasure. Your voice. That thing so many writers are looking for. They try out writing in this style, or in the voice of their favourite author. They try different genres.

All good. Why?

Because all of that counts towards your 100,000 words. And while it’s not as though the literary world throws you a party when you reach 100, 001 words, but you should. You should throw yourself and “End of the Crap” party. And then you should keep writing.

Or does this say sulk?

It absolutely could. And how applicable. I did a lot of sulking while I wrote and wrote and wrote in those early days, and while I collected rejection after reject. I still have my binder full of rejections letters from when they actually came in the mail as letters. Now I also have a file in my email holding tank.

Same truth applies either way.

Just keep writing.

Attention all writerly and artsy folks!

Dearest and dearest and dearest too,
I’m looking for on-line mentoring or teaching jobs. I know we hold these dear once we snag them, but I need a work-at-home gig to support my kidlets, so if you have one in your back pocket and you’re not using it, I’d love a glowing reference as you kindly toss it my way.

Please share freely, especially with the ones who do the hiring. I make a mean batch of gingersnaps as a finders fee. And my kids will thank you too.

ps. I will ship cookies pretty much anywhere. Along with cute thank you cards from my adorable children.

Libraries everywhere . . .

I’ve done the math and I think my children and I (and sometimes my mom) have visited about 150 libraries all over the States, in Mexico, and in Europe.

Yesterday we visited Prague City Library. The Prague City Library (Mestska Knihovna in Czech) is in a big, beautiful old building, there’s lots of light, you can just walk in and use the resources, the wifi is free–not even a password–and the librarians are helpful.

And there are beanbag chairs. My children would like to point out that there are beanbag chairs. And Garfield comics in English.

We did have to pay to use the bathroom. If we’d had a library card, we could’ve swiped in for free.

This is in stark contrast to most of the other town libraries so far. Even in London they wanted me to fill out a long form just to register for the wifi.  In others they had security at the door making sure no one who didn’t ‘belong’ there got in to say, use the bathroom, look for a job on a computer, or even just stay warm for an hour. That was Budapest, where it took me twenty minutes and a whole lot of backbone to ‘register’ and pay to be a guest. The dour-faced librarian corrected my form three times before giving me a temporary card that would swipe us through the metro-style turnstiles to get in, but would still not connect me to the internet.

The selection of books in English for kids? Paltry.

Sometimes the library decor was lovely, but there was practically nothing on the shelves.

I am a fierce advocate for barrier-free libraries, so this has been disappointing.

Libraries should welcome everyone, no matter if they think they’re just a homeless person looking to get warm, or an immigrant who doesn’t have enough English to fill out the form, and so stays away rather than ask the gatekeepers.

Just open the doors, and have an information desk. With a helpful person sitting behind it, ready to welcome strangers and regulars alike. ​

But then we got to Prague. Sweet Prague, our Central European library oasis. Know this, you are doing all the things right.

(Except for the paying-for-the-bathroom-if-you-don’t-have-a-card thing. But we forgive you for that, because we’ve been paying to use toilets since England.

London, UK


Ljubljana, Slovenia


London, UK


Mean librarian in Budapest


Totally unnecessary temporary library card.


Fun blocks. No good books. Budapest, Slovakia


Again, very pretty. No soul. Budapest.


Pretty library. Hardly any books in any language. Bratislava. And everything spine out.


One little shelf. Bratislava, Slovenia


Prague, Czech Republic


Prague, Czech Republic.

finding something to read

Esmé and I both acquired eReaders for this trip, after finally giving up carrying the amount of books we’d like to have around at any given time.

We don’t love them. Not yet, anyway. We still go into every bookstore and just be amongst the books, knowing that even if we did find something in English, we don’t have the room to carry it in our backpacks, save for one.


Just one.

Esmé found a bin of books in English in Munich and she came up with one. One

Twilight. Well, okay. It’s printed on cheap paper, so it’s pretty light.

As for me, today I saw a copy of Alice Munro’s Lying Under the Apple Tree here in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in a store with about a dozen books in English.

I might go get it.

Maybe I’ll ask if I can trade the eReader for it to make room in my pack.

Les Deux Magots

Yesterday morning I walked from our flat on Montparnasse up to the famously literary Les Deux Magots where Simone de Beauvoir wrote and thought and drank coffee and smoked cigarettes.
I didn’t smoke any cigarettes, but I did work on my new novel, drank coffee that was served with wee chocolates, and thought about Ms. Beauvoir perhaps sitting in my very seat, all of which has been a dream of mine since I was about sixteen-years-old and first read The Mandarins. 


ps. Some other famous writer guys wrote there too.



When the book Paris Was a Woman by Andrea Weiss came out in 1995, my twenty-year-old world expanded by ten times to suddenly understand the culture and relationships of the group that became known as the “women of the Left Bank.”

To be so queer, so long ago? When I was coming out, it seemed impossible that such a vibrant, creative, queer scene could’ve been happening in the 20’s.


I have always said that if I could go back in time, it would be to Paris, Left Bank, 1920.