The Vaughan Writers’ Club and Bathurst Clark Resource Library welcomed Anthony De Sa, author of Barnacle Love and Kicking the Sky, to its authors’ series. Barnacle Love, De Sa’s first book, is a collection of linked short stories about growing up Portuguese and those he knew in his youth. De Sa shared a number of humorous stories, primarily about his relationship and experiences with his grandmother. Above all else, De Sa advises writing from a place that is true. He credits his success to his unique Portuguese voice and stories of three generations of his family, all of whom have experienced the feeling of trying to belong. He says the people in his stories and the stories themselves have changed since they happened, allowing his writing to transcend the gap between memoir and fiction. Growing up, he wrote to create worlds he could control because he was unable to control the events of the real world around him.
De Sa, an English teacher and teacher-librarian, never expected to write a book, but that’s just the way it worked out for him. As for his writing process, De Sa shared a collage-like plan of characters in his novel with the audience. He says he’s always writing in his head and the plan he shared changed since he created it. When he breaks from the plan and begins jotting things down he becomes obsessed, he admits, but it doesn’t work for him to write every day because he’s busy engaging in the world around him. To finish, he confirmed what most of us writers already know, that it’s one of the most glorious things to see your book on a shelf in the bookstore and speak to other authors about their writing.
Moe Vyas was the first local author to speak about the dos and don’ts of self-publishing. According to Vyas, money is not the way to get published. He summarized his self-publishing journey telling us that his nightmare began when he signed on with an American publishing house in the business of promising nothing to the authors but selling them everything. His book was first published with errors and then republished to correct them. The book and the tears were all his. Vyas concluded by saying that he recently signed with EMSA Publishing, a local publisher, that did everything for him at no cost save for a share of the revenue.
Maria Samurin talked about how to publish an anthology which she did with her writing group, the Scarborough Scribblers, twice. She was a librarian at Toronto Public Library at the time. Inspired by the Maydams of Mayhem, she and her group set out to write an anthology about libraries. They set a crazy unrealistic deadline, but of course, the writers weren’t able to make it. She suggests it is much better to have flexible deadlines and mini-deadlines for content, and copyediting where every writer reads every story. Teamwork is key as is trust. The hard part was putting a cover to the manuscript and formatting. Attention had to be paid to details as far as headers, footers, title pages, etc., were concerned. She modelled her manuscript after existing formatted books, getting contributors to sign off on proof copies. When they were done, they celebrated and then it was time to begin the year-long task all over again for the next anthology.
Franca Pelaccia talked about self-editing for the independent author which concerns more than just spelling and grammar. If you’re going to indie publish, she suggests you take the time to do it the “right” way so your books don’t sound like first drafts. One way to do this is to give it to beta readers and listen to their reactions, and/or find critique partner(s). Look for constructive feedback, which is not the same as criticism. In her experience, she has learned you can sometimes get what you need by entering contests, reading up on the craft of writing, joining a writing group, and/or arranging for a manuscript evaluation to get an external opinion.
Rivka Ringlestein spoke about courage. She experienced moments of courage living in Israel, as a mother, career woman, and wife, not knowing from one day to the next if her husband will return home. She spoke of her most courageous moment, when her husband was in the ICU, hooked up to machines, knowing the time was upon her that she would have to say goodbye. Letting him go was the most courageous moment she has ever had.
A question and answer session followed with the authors, moderated by Franca.
Thank you to all authors who participated. A special than you to Anthony De Sa who took the time out of his busy schedule to speak to us about his books, his writing, and his writing process.