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

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:

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

First Book on the Way

I'm having a book! Lost Enough, my debut short and flash fiction collection, is set to be released in April 2017, by Canada's Morning Rain Publishing.

You can find out more about the book in this media release. I'll share updates, including launch and reading details, on this blog, as they arise. In the meantime, I'll just be over here, plotzing.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Advice for a Nervous Planet

It's starting to feel to some people, particularly here in the West, like things have never been this bad before. I see people say they feel as though everything is falling apart around them, that they're teetering at the edge of a cliff, vast nothing echoing into infinity, the other side only a blurred vision of surface far in the distance, possibly a mirage and nothing else.

Things were making sense. And then they weren't. People started behaving in ways newly nervous citizens hadn't expected. It wasn't good. People already caught up or watching from the ever-nearing sidelines got dizzy. Now, they sense they could tumble at any moment. The more they think about it, the more the vertigo sets in. They're still here, but they've lost their sense of down and up.

Feeling like this, you can start to hear your own breathing huff faster, then faster. A hazy darkness closes in on your vision. Your thoughts are a narrowing tunnel. Your blood, or something else inside of you, some energy, is moving way too fast through your body.

Are you dying? Is this how things end? With sudden, unanticipated madness in the face of an uncertain, and possibly very cruel, future? Everything keeps moving around you and you can't keep track, can't catch up. Nothing feels normal. You feel horrifyingly light. Then lighter still. You might float away now instead, untethered to anything logical or known. This must be terror. Or insanity. Or both.

What you're feeling, if you're feeling this way, is anxiety. It might be lesser or greater, or mixed with any one of countless other emotions. Articles have been telling me that many of you are feeling it, whether it has been induced by the recent U.S. election and impending inauguration, or any other of the many recent and awful world events, from bombings to shootings to displays of political power and aggression.

natural if you feel it. Whether you have fled a war, have been watching terror and suffering from either side of the TV screen, or, like many in North America right now, feel like you are about to enter a new world of increasing dehumanization, danger, fascism and, possibly, even war, in a lifetime in which you thought nothing quite like this could happen (or happen again), you have every right and reason to feel anxiety.

I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (manifesting in panic attacks, in my case) more than fourteen years ago. It's strange to think those of us who have been the canaries in the coal mines of stress and anxiety may now be the ones able to offer the tools for others to keep going in this new age of generalized anxiety.

If it helps you, and I hope it might, as we enter a new year and try to bring back some hope, here are some key things I've learned from years of dealing with first anxiety and, before and after that, depression. Most of these techniques are adapted from cognitive behavioural therapy  (CBT), a way to train your brain to be able to acknowledge bad things without spinning you out of control, either into anxiety, depression or anger:

1) Picture beyond this. For panic attack sufferers, for example, this means remembering that, although you may be terrified and hyperventilating right now, in a few minutes you won't be. You'll get through this. On a broader, societal scale, I see this as meaning you need to remember you are still in charge of doing everything you can to make things better, and you need to believe you can and will do just that. Make a list of how you can help, from donating money or clothes or time to a cause that is going to need it in the coming years, to researching, to getting involved in local politics or regional, national or international organizations. There are lots of other options for how to help. Find which are best for you. You can do this.

2) Remember this has happened before, and it hasn't destroyed you. You are going to get through this. Again, on a broader scale right now, this means terrible things have happened on this planet. And we--as a species, at least--are still here. We keep surviving. You can do this.

3) Remember the good. When you feel like you're spiralling, think about the good--from loved ones to things you're proud you've done, to dreams you still want to see come true. The rest of the time, the best way I've found to tackle and prevent feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, is to do things that remind you of the good in life in general, and in your life, in particular. Visit friends and family. Listen to your favourite music. Help someone who needs it. Dance. Read. Go out and visit a gallery, if that's what you love. Stay home and have a nice, long bath, if that's your thing. Eat cookies. Donate money or clothes or household items to a good cause. Go for a walk. Take pictures. Live. Do several good things every day for yourself that you enjoy or that make life better. This is the path back to perspective for those of us suffering from anxiety or depression. In this current political environment, it will also help you stay focused on your goals, and your reasons for achieving them. You can do this.

4) Find support. It's okay to ask for help. In fact, it's more than okay. You are letting yourself down as a person if you know you are in pain and you do nothing about it. Would you do this to someone else? I don't think you would. There is more help available to you than you think, from friends and family to professional services. You are not a burden if you do this. You are equipping yourself with what you need so you can do future good things. And you are setting a good example for others who are daunted by reaching out for help when they need it. You are going to get through this. You can do this.

5) Believe. In yourself first, if you can. If you can't manage that right now, then believe in others. Believe in the future. Believe in a higher power, if that is part of your relationship with the universe. But, please, believe that the potential for human good is stronger, more lasting and more pervasive than the potential for human evil. Evil has always been more flashy and attention-getting. It can brutalize in great quantities and shocking ways, and gets its name in the papers every day until it seems like it is everywhere. But, good is determined and infinite. It grows from the tiniest and most unsuspected places, and it spreads everywhere. It will continue to. And it is up to you to help it. It will help you, too, if you believe in it.

There are other tips, for sure, that can see you through. The ones above are those I've found most useful, and that I think can be extrapolated from to help others get through the coming times. If you need it, please seek more information and never be afraid to ask for help. I, for one, believe in you. You can do this.