how to be cozy + productive, 5:00am


School has started and I’m teaching 3 courses this semester, which means the only time left to write is before the day begins.

Earl Grey tea: check. Granola & yogurt: check. Romantic/inspirational candle: check. Canine cheerleader: well…

Mad Miss Mimic is Global TV’s book club title for March

Watch the book club discussion of Mad Miss Mimic here.


my heart on my sleeve (well, my back)


Mad Miss Mimic book launch, High Park Curling & Lawn Bowling Club, Toronto, May 2015

flowers of adrenaline


Mad Miss Mimic‘s book launch party is less than 36 hours away (deets here)! So what am I doing with my time? I’m crocheting flowers, of course.

I’m not particularly fond of crocheted flowers. Nor do I know how to crochet, really–I’m just following YouTube tutorials (like this one, in which the Crochet Master has a particularly soothing-yet-upbeat voice).

I’ve given handfuls of these to friends already (saying “no, I don’t know what they’re for either, just … Hello Spring?”). I suspect that all flower-crocheting activity will cease abruptly after tomorrow night.


talking it up

IMG_0081Today was a thrilling new experience for me: 5 minutes to introduce myself and Mad Miss Mimic at the Indigo Books Penguin Random House Spring Preview. A room stuffed with booksellers and buying reps (and I mean 50 people stuffed!) all waiting for me to tell them why they should look twice at my book let alone recommend it to customers.

Waiting in the lobby beforehand I was a little nervous quaking in my boots. But I could hear lots of laughter coming from inside the room, and that got me thinking about why all these folks were gathered. I thought, a) they’re here because they’re all readers, all born-and-bred book nuts, b) they’re here to get the scoop on what’ll be coming into their stores over the next few months, c) they’re here for a change of pace, to chat with friends and colleagues, to be wined and dined a little, to collect some free books, to hear from a few authors firsthand what went into the writing…in other words, they’re in no way sitting behind those doors waiting to judge or dismiss me and my newborn book.

IMG_0077This helped immensely with the nerves. Also it helped immensely that I had just the day before received my first copy of the actual printed book! I took it out of my purse and went into that room book-first. I started my little spiel by talking about the cover image: how happy I am about those flowers because they’re so pretty and mysterious but also because they’re opium poppies, and the story involves a drug plot with doctors seeking more potent derivatives of morphine to sell to their patients…

I may have rambled a bit. I almost certainly took more than 5 minutes. But the faces looked interested, I got a few laughs (e.g., “a Victorian London version of Breaking Bad“), and the questions afterwards were great.

Thank you, Sally Sparrow, for snapping (and tweeting) the pic from the back of the room. Nice to have a memento!




Who has time these days? The knitting project languishes in its basket. That gorgeous fabric I bought last spring never got sewed into cushion covers. Some evenings I’m too tired to read yet too restless for TV. I want to make something but can’t bear the thought of a pattern or a YouTube tutorial or anything at all involving logistics.

Luckily there exists a category of craft for times like this. Elementary school teachers already know about it (and I was raised by one!). Remember the paper-bag puppet? The paper-plate Thanksgiving turkey? It’s the fast craft: two or three materials, a single tool (or none), no instructions.

Pompons are nice; I’ve posted before about making yarn pompons. Paper snowflakes Snowflakework well (if you use Japanese paper you can stick them to the window with just a damp cloth).

Last weekend I found out a lovely self-striping mohair in my yarn stash. The softest shades of cream, robin’s-egg blue and spring-leaf green. I crossed two sticks and wound the wool round and round. The activity produced the same meditative state of absorption I look for in knitting–hands busy, thoughts rambling–and resulted in a lovely, cobwebby, handmade object to hang and enjoy.  In the days that followed, whenever I got too tired for lecture-prep or grading or answering emails, I made a few more to give to friends. (God’s eyes, they’re called, and they actually have quite the spiritual legacy. See an older post about gods’ eyes here.)

DeskNext I took out that forlorn bolt of fabric, laid it across the dining table, hacked a square off, and draped it over my desk. A temporary measure, but who cares? Springtime has arrived in my office!

Next I might cover my bulletin board with similarly pretty fabric, securing it on the back with duct tape.