June 30, 2006

First Look!

Wm. Morrow/HarperCollins USA has chosen The Birth House as part of their "First Look" program.

Although The Birth House won't be released in bookstores in the US until August 22nd, you can visit the following page and sign up to be one of the first in the States to read and review the US edition. (You'll get a free advanced reading edition of the book - that's a proof of the book before it comes out in hardcover - something that's pretty collectable these days!)

The deadline for signing up is July 31st.

Here's the link:
First Look - The Birth House

June 29, 2006

who's afraid of the big bad boob?

Evidently, some of the sales clerks at Victoria's Secret stores in Wisconsin and Boston think their customers are!

Just about a week ago, two mothers in two different incidents were directed to bathrooms outside of Victoria's Secret stores to nurse their babies.

Here's how the Wisconsin incident went down...
On June 21, 2006, Rebecca Cook entered a Victoria’s Secret store with a friend to browse through the sales racks. While in the store, Mrs. Cook’s daughter wanted to nurse, so she went to the dressing room and asked for one. When a dressing room wasn’t available, she said that she’d sit out of the way and nurse her daughter, and was told that she wasn’t allowed to by a store employee, that she would have to use a restroom. After she refused to use a restroom to nurse her daughter, a dressing room opened up, and while she was in it, the two store employees were heard loudly discussing, right outside her dressing room, to make sure if there’s an occupied sign that the dressing room is truly occupied and to get customers in and out of the dressing rooms as soon as possible. Mrs. Cook left the dressing room because of their rudeness, nursing her daughter on her way out of the store. When she called to complain to the store manager, she was told that the employee probably asked her to nurse in the restroom because the sight of her breasts might offend a customer. Taking the complaint of the treatment by the store manager to the corporate customer service wasn’t any further help, because she was told that women are not allowed to try on clothing in the middle of the store, therefore they are not allowed to nurse in the middle of the sales floor. from "A Tale of Two Nursing Moms" an excellent press release off of the mothering.com lactivist discussion board.

The sight of her breasts might offend a customer. ???
You've got to be kidding.

Pretty Bras and Breastfeeding Belong Together!

Mothering Magazine's online site, mothering.com, has posted a call-out for a July 1 nurse-in at all Victoria's Secret stores. I know July 1 is Canada Day in Canada, but for all you nursing mamas in the States, spread the word!

Rally this Saturday, with lactavists nationwide! Gather at 1:00 p.m. in your time zone, at your nearest Victoria’s Secret store, for a nurse-in. Help this company, whose fortunes are largely breast-related, understand that in being "for and about women" their stores must accommodate breastfeeding. The nurse-in activism is also intended to draw attention to the fact that we need for a federal law protecting a nursing mother's right to feed her baby anywhere that she and her baby would otherwise be allowed to be. Read the full story at mothering.com

By the way, the "for and about women" quote came from a statement issued by Anthony Hebron, VS spokesman for the chain's parent, Limited Brands after the "nursing incidents" made national news..."Victoria's Secret has a "long-standing policy to allow nursing in our stores. We are still for and about women."

Right, I'll believe that the day VS designs a line of decadent, gorgeous, and comfortable lingerie for pregnant women. Hello...pregnant women have sex too. And isn't it really all about the sexxxy?
(Oooh, I can see the 'sister' line that would come next..."Victoria's Secret Push-Up Nursing Bras") Hey, I think we're on to something here.

Don't be mean to nursing mamas, Xena will kick your a%$!

from a Lucy Lawless poster for World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

June 20, 2006

courage my love

I recently took a trip to Toronto with the family. We crammed in as many things as we could into the days that we were there, spreading the choices of places and activities between the four of us...a visit to Ontario Place, a couple of trips to Silver Snail Comics, a walk at The Riverdale Farm (they have outdoor oven-fired pizza on Tuesdays!), poked around The Necropolis, dinner at Baton Rouge, and my personal choice - a visit to Kensington Market on a lazy, sunny Saturday.

It was a real treat (and a completely different experience/vibe) to have my kids with me as I strolled down the streets. We slipped in and out of the little stalls and store fronts, smelling spices, tasting foods - hot, sour, savoury, and sweet. Mmmmm...churros.

But what's a day in Kensington Market without a stop at Courage My Love?
I dragged my 12-year-old into the shop, proclaiming the virtues of vintage. After a nice browse around, I left with two hats and a sweet wooden ring. I wore the ring on my pinky most of the rest of the day, twirling it around as we ate vendor dogs and shouted out words for a street side rapper to incorporate into his mix. (He was pretty good...try lookin' cool while rapping about "artichokes".)

Later that evening, after we'd returned to the hotel and I was getting ready to go to dinner, I realized the ring was loose on my pinky. Not wanting to lose it, I moved it to my ring finger. It went on easily and seemed a good, snug fit.

As I put on my make-up, snug became tight. I tugged on it while we walked to the restaurant but the ring wouldn't budge and my finger began to swell. By the time we were ready to order, my finger was a lovely shade of maroon. Houston, we have a problem.

Of course, the problem was made worse because:
A. If you've ever eaten at Baton Rouge, you know you can't just get up a leave, not after you've dreamed of their BBQ sauce for months on end. (It's not Papa Joe's Smoke House, but pretty close.)

B. My book signing at Book Expo Canada was the next day at noon. Kind of difficult to scribble my name repeatedly when the fourth finger of my writing hand is the size of a sausage.

My dear husband (calmly) says, "we'll ask for a side of butter. Maybe that will work."

I thanked the server, scooped up a big pat of the stuff and stuck my hands under the table and started to slather away.
We were way beyond butter.

Husband (still quite calm) says..."OK. Emergency room?"

I could smell the glorious woody scent of the BBQ sauce as the server set my plate in front of me. I unrolled the napkin that was wrapped around the silverware.
"This steak knife looks pretty sharp. Maybe I can saw the ring off?"

Husband shook his head and sighed. "Give me your hand, I'll do it."

He made a good start, sawing a nice groove into the ring, but I couldn't stand watching the blade move back and forth so close to my fingers. "Thanks honey, I'll take it from here."

I worked at it, sawing away when I could, changing the angle ever so slightly when I came too near flesh, quickly hiding my hand under the table every time the waiter came by, or when the manager insisted on strolling around striking up conversations with us and every table within sight.


I may have lost a ring, but my finger was still in tact, my hand ready for BEC.
(Stay tuned for part two, Notes from Book Expo Canada)

June 05, 2006


blogendipity - a serendipitous sense of euphoria experienced while surfing the blogosphere.

My first sighting of the word, blogendipity came this past week when I spotted it on one of my new favourite blogs, dovegreyreader scribbles. It's put together by a woman who describes herself as
a Devonshire based bookaholic sock knitting quilter, who happens to be a community nurse in her spare time.
What's not to love?!

How she first came to hear about The Birth House, I'm not quite sure, but through a series of blogendipitous events that include an international Chapters order gone missing and the recent arrival of the UK advanced reader copies of the book (thank-you 4th Estate!), she now has her own copy. I was thrilled when an email arrived late last night to say that she'd already read it and LOVED it. Hurray!
Here's her review of The Birth House at her blog.
My First UK Review!

By the way, you should wander around her blog while you're at it. She's got some thoughtful and informed reviews of books past and present with a special nod to 19th century female authors and women's medical history. (and she's a Joni Mitchell fan.) I also adore her nature diary entries and photos. One other thing that she features at dovegreyreader that I love, is her photographs of the stacks of her latest bookstore finds.

I thought I'd try a little stacking of my own...
Many people have been asking, "What's the next book?" "Are you working on the next novel?" "Can you talk about what's next?" Although I've mentioned bits and pieces here and there, I'm a little shy to spill all the beans just yet. But for those of you who just can't wait, here's one of the stacks of books that's been sitting next to my bed for the last little while. Just a hint of what's to come.

i-pod, i said.
Podcasts are all the rage right now and since I'm a radio-geek-girl at heart, I love 'em!
One of my favs is Douglas Coupland being interviewed by his editor at Random House Canada, Anne Collins. Jpod

Jodi Picoult fans can hear this well-spoken author give mini lectures on everything from rats to writing.

The Ottawa International Writers Festival has their first podcast from the Spring 2006 fest online.
It's a podcast of part of my reading from the festival (what you don't hear is when I asked everyone to get up and shout the names of their favouite novels at the top of their lungs... it was a fun evening!) What you will hear is my telling a bit of my journey in tracking down historical records and an excerpt from The Birth House that involves a young midwife and her role after the Halifax Explosion. (There's even a little bit of Madeleine Thien at the end. I sure hope they have a pod cast of her entire reading. It was beautiful.) Have a listen.
Ami at the Ottawa International Writers Fest.

PodCast Request Line!
I'm going to put together a couple of podcasts in the near future -kitchen table style - just gabbing about The Birth House and life. Leave a comment, or drop me an email with topics you'd like to hear covered!