About Anita

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Anita Dolman is a writer, editor and poet living in Ottawa, Canada. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in journals, magazines and anthologies throughout Canada and the U.S. Her debut short fiction collection is Lost Enough (Morning Rain Publishing, 2017). Twitter: @ajdolman

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Reviews, the Sweetest Tip

I am so delighted with the first Goodreads reviews to come in for Lost Enough.

Reviews on author sales sites like Amazon, and book review sites like Goodreads, have become so important these days in promoting authors' work. Although I've known this for several years, the release of Lost Enough has, selfishly, brought the need for such reviews home.

Not only do I deeply appreciate readers taking the time to post their thoughts about my own book, but I am trying to do my part to review, or at the very least rate, the books I read.

I've reviewed books, and still do, for Arc Poetry Magazine, where there is more room to delve down into the essence and details of a book's construction, targeted to readers and authors already engaged with the genre, author or book.

Goodreads and bookseller sites, though, offer access to a different, and often much broader, set of potential readers, and the reader-driven reviews there have become increasingly essential for authors.

Leaving a review, even something as brief as "Great book," is a great way to engage with and support the writing community, and to help the writing and the authors you love get noticed by other potential readers. If you love something, say something.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

What Comes Next

All the pivotal moments now behind me, both good and bad, revolving around launching Lost Enough, and losing my mom around the same time, the question keeps coming up: What now?

Some nexts have tumbled or slid into place, like they do, with the general getting-on-with of life: going back to work, hauling our kid off to summer camps, getting all the things done that I had neglected (I'm looking at you, garden), reconnecting with friends, and trying not to panic in the face of the daily morning news.

Plus, of course, life didn't stop while I was ricocheting around inside my bubble, even if my blogging about it stopped more than once.

Books keep being published all around me and somehow showing up on my shelves (often roughly around the same time the cost of a book disappears from my wallet); Arc Poetry Magazine keeps getting submissions; and my own submissions to journals and anthologies keep coming back or, even, thankfully being accepted.

Some of the books to come my way recently include (but, oy, are definitely not limited to) Christine McNair's Charm, Daniel Zomparelli's Everything is Awful and You're a Terrible Person, and Jen Sookfong Lee's Gentlemen of the Shade: My Own Private Idaho, as well as a few by Tanya Huff, whom I have had the enormous pleasure of chatting with at the last couple of Limestone Genre Expos.

Aside from diving through this amazing stack of new books, though, most of my current what-nows feel like a wrapping-up rather than a starting, as I set up readings from Lost Enough for later this summer and in the fall across Canada (more on that once more details are confirmed, but I can already promise I'll be reading in Calgary and Edmonton in October!).

I'm also finishing up edits on an anthology of essays and poetry on motherhood in precarious times, due out next year from Demeter Press. Again, more details to come, but I am delighted with the collection, which I've been fortunate enough to co-edit with two fabulous and insightful U.S. professors, Dannielle Joy Davis and Barbara Schwartz-Bechet.

In addition to letting me read through amazing proposals, essays and poems from a diverse range of authors, the project has also brought me back in touch with MLA style, which, for an editor who has worked mostly in fiction, poetry, journalism and corporate text, is like running into, twenty years later, the narcissistic, fur-wearing exchange student you sat next to in Kinship Studies. Sure, you understand them better than you used to, but you still don't want to date them.

So, what is next after all the what next of finishing up old projects? I'm not actually sure. I have some things started. I have ideas. And, of course, I have a lot of weeds waiting for me in the garden out back.

But, I don't know what I'm going to tackle first. And that, surprising, feels more liberating to me right now than scary.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Limestone Genre Expo

It's a very faint, blurry (and, I'd argue, often completely unnecessary) line that gets drawn between genre and literary fiction in CanLit and beyond. That said, some of the most interesting places for discussion, promotion and interaction with writers who span the breadth of imaginative writing come to us from the conferences, conventions and expos hosted under the "genre" banner.

One that I'll be at this year is the Limestone Genre Expo in Kingston, Ontario, Saturday, June 3, and Sunday, June 4, at St. Lawrence College. My partner (life, not writing), James K. Moran, and I will have a table in the dealer's space, selling our books and my steampunk jewelry, and we will both be on panels over the course of the weekend:

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Launching a Book from the Harbour of Mourning

If you follow this blog at all, you know it's been a time of great happiness and immense sorrow for me lately, as my first book was published in the same week my mother, the inimitable Ietje Dolman, passed away. My thanks to everyone who has expressed their congratulations and/or condolences to me in recent weeks. I hope many of you can make it to my launch for Lost Enough, at Ottawa's Black Squirrel Books Sunday, April 30, at 7:30 p.m., so I can thank you in person, and read for you, too.

As I slowly start to work on the first few items on the ambitious marketing plan list I made for the book when I thought I'd be much happier at this point, some things are beginning to falling into place. The more readings I line up, the more local bookstores (such as Ottawa's Stonewall Wilde's, and Perfect Books) that graciously and happily agree to carry Lost Enough, the more event listings that list my events (such as the stellar Ottawa resource, Bywords Calendar), and even the more publishers and writers retweet my shameless promotional tweets, the more I see that what will always be most valuable to me as a writer (not to mention as a reader) is the sense of community this life has already given me.

Barring my winning the long shot lottery of writing and becoming one of the true rarities of the Canadian book world--an author who can afford to write full-time--I will likely never get rich doing this. Much to my 84-year-old father's chagrin, I will likely never even be able to make enough net profit from my writing to buy more than an occasional bottle of cheap red wine and tub of frozen yogurts in which to drown my financial despair, or a few more books to keep me going.

Here, though, in this writing community, which stretches across all boundaries and borders, and introduces me to people I would never have otherwise met, living different lives with different insights, and all driven by the need to share, is the beauty of a writer's life: to connect. Writers are often a riddle, us introverts who also desperately want to share with others, to be known and to know. I'm starting to crawl back out from under the safety of my mourning blanket, and to look up from the stack of books I've been hiding with under here. Soon, I'll start to go back out into the world and start exploring again.

I've already learned how much support there is out there. As I continue to nudge my small book forth into the wild and scary world of reviewers and readers and sales, I know I already have one of the best things the writing world has to offer--a community of people searching for not just one truth, but all of them.

Read a review of Lost Enough.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Ietje Dolman, 1932-2017

On Saturday, April 8, 2017, the most amazing and remarkable woman I know passed away. My mother, Jacomina ("Ietje") Dolman (nee Berends) died after a seven-month struggle with cancer of the esophagus. She was 84 years old.

The loss, to me and to our entire family, is overwhelming, and I cannot imagine how someone who was always so vibrantly fully alive could now be gone.

Here is a picture of her taken at her dance class graduation. She was eighteen and would, within hours, meet her future husband, Gerrit, who would be her love to the end some 66 years later.

Our mom's life was hard, at times brutally so: she grew up in the Netherlands through the horrors of WWII, and eventually emigrated in her early 20s with two small children to a country where she didn't speak the language, knew no one and had few rights. She served as free labour on the first farms to hire my father in Canada, as a condition of their agreement to hire him. And she would go on to fight and eventually win her battle with alcoholism, dying 28 years sober, something for which I will always be incredibly proud of her for.

In her retirement, Ietje turned her Protestent work ethic towards sharing her craft skills in every way she could think of to help others, including knitting and crocheting countless shawls and hoods for the homeless, and making dolls for orphaned children in Africa. She was also a brilliant storyteller, and, had her life gone differently, I have no doubt she would have been a better writer than I can ever hope to be.

I could list so much more about her here, but it's her humour and her perseverance that will inspire me the rest of my life. She was a survivor. I will miss you forever, Ietje.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

It's here! It's here! My first book day!

Yay! It's book day for me, as Lost Enough: A collection of short stories is released by Morning Rain Publishing.

I admit I'm more than a bit excited. I even used exclamation marks in the heading above, so obviously I'm plotzing to the point that my inner editor has been knocked out cold. But, a first collection only comes out once, after all. (I know there's a joke in there about my being bisexual and, unlike my book, having to come out come out over and over again, but I'm in too good a mood today to make it here.)

If you'd like to buy a copy, you can order e- or print versions through Amazon or Chapters/Indigo (I noticed chapters.ca didn't have button to purchase the print edition yet, but it should be there soon). Or, you can (nudge, nudge) support your favourite independent bookstore by asking them to order it for you.

Here in Ottawa, Black Squirrel Books and Perfect Books will also soon be carrying copies, and, if you're around Ottawa the evening of Sunday, April 30, I'd love to see you at the Squirrel for the official launch, where you can get yourself a signed copy and hear me read a bit from the book.

Finally, if it's beyond your means, I encourage you to order it (and any other books by authors you'd like to read) through your local library.

I'm going to go back to my plotzing now...

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Lost Enough is almost here!

It has been a strange few months, with many ups and downs. One positive throughout has been knowing that Lost Enough, my debut collection of short fiction, would be published this spring.

Both the print and e-version of the book will be available April 6, through Amazon and Chapters/Indigo online ordering, as well as at some actual brick-and-mortar book shops. You can also ask your local bookstore or library to order it, which I really hope you will.

I will post ordering information as soon as the book is out, although, if you're beyond eager to ensure you get it as soon as possible, you can already pre-order an e-edition on Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

I will post more information about the upcoming launch in Ottawa, as well as any readings in other parts of Canada this year, as plans come together. In the meantime, here is the book cover, designed by Morning Rain Publishing's amazing Joanne Kasunic. I admit I have a bit of a crush on it: