News from Leona

September, 2016
“If Sylvie Had Nine Lives”, my as yet unpublished novel, was awarded the John V. Hicks prize, sponsored by the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild. You can read the beginning of the novel here.

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August 18, 2016
My creative nonfiction, “Six Ways She Might Have Died before She Reached Nineteen,” will appear in Best Canadian Essays 2016 from Tightrope Books. My thanks to editors Joseph Kertes and Christopher Doda for including my work in this anthology.

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May 3, 2016
My creative nonfiction, “Six Ways She Might Have Died before She Reached Nineteen,” is nominated for a National Magazine Award in the Personal Journalism category.

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December 16, 2015
I’m thrilled to announce that my story “How Sylvie Failed to Become a Better Person through Yoga” has earned first place in American Short Fiction‘s short story contest. The story will appear some time in the new year, in the winter issue of the magazine. ASF is a literary magazine of note based in Austin, Texas.

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September 15, 2015
From October 5 to October 17, I’ll be at The Banff Centre as a participant in their new Memoir Residency, working with Alexandra Fuller, Alison Pick and Karen Connelly.

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September 15, 2015
Two-Rung Ladder, my flash-fiction contribution to Carin Makuz’s excellent project The Litter I See is on-line. Spend some time at the site and read the other short and powerful contributions.

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September 15, 2015
You can read my short memoir, Childhood: Five Wonders, at one of my favourite online sites, Numéro Cinq.

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July 17, 2015
The summer issue of Prairie Fire is out, with my memoir/personal essay Six Ways She Might Have Died before She Reached 19.

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July 17, 2015
You can order issue #134 of The New Quarterly, with my personal essay Pathologies of the Heart, which earned honourable mention in the Edna Staebler Personal Essay contest, here in print or digital format. Lots of wonderful writing in this issue.

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February 8, 2015
My short memoir, “Six Ways She Might Have Died before She Reached 19″ has won first prize in Prairie Fire Magazine’s creative nonfiction contest. It will appear in the summer 2015 issue of the magazine. My gratitude to Prairie Fire and to judge Wayne Grady.

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February 8, 2015
My creative nonfiction piece “Pathologies of the Heart” has earned honourable mention in the Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest. It will appear in The New Quarterly in 2015.

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October 7, 2014

I’ll be teaching “Follow the Heat,” a three-day intensive course in memoir writing at St. Peter’s College, October 17-19. Looking forward to working hard and having fun with it.

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October 7, 2014
My story “High Beams” appears in Journey Prize Stories 26, out today from McClelland & Stewart. My gratitude to the 2014 jury for the Journey Prize, and to editors Kim and Rilla at Grain Magazine for submitting the story. I’m thrilled to have my work in this anthology alongside the work of such gifted writers. “High Beams” is both a complete short story and the first chapter of a novel-to-be. You can read the very beginning of it here on this website.

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October 21, 2013
My story “High Beams” will appear in the next issue of Grain Magazine, issue 41.1, Home Myths. Watch for this issue to appear in early November. If you’re not a subscriber, you can subscribe to Grain here, or order single issues here, or find it at your local bookshop. “High Beams” is both a complete short story and the first chapter of a novel-to-be. You can read the very beginning of it here on this website.

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October 8, 2013
It was a pleasure to spend two weeks as writer in residence at Mackie Lake House in Coldstream, BC, and to work with students and instructors at Okanagan College. It was good to reconnect with old friends, make new friends, and talk writing. Thank you Christine Kashuba, Jane Lister, Kevin McPherson, Francie Greenslade, Terry Jordan, Camille Jordan.

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April 27, 2013
I’m honoured and delighted that my story “How Sylvie Failed to Become a Better Person through Yoga” appears on the longlist for the Vanderbilt-Exile Short Fiction Competition.

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March 27, 2013
I’ll be reading April 27 in Regina as part of the Saskatchewan Book Awards 20th anniversary Festival of Readings. For the occasion, 20 past SBA multiple award winners will read from recent work. The festival will be held in four rooms at the Mackenzie Art Gallery starting at 1:30 p.m. on the 27th. The 2013 Saskatchewan Book Awards ceremony, with guest speaker Sharon Butala, will happen that evening at the Conexus Arts Centre.

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March 5, 2013
My story collection Sightlines will be one of six books featured at a panel discussion at Saskatoon Public Library on Tuesday, March 12. Saskatoon authors will discuss Saskatchewan books and why they love them. I’m grateful to author Alice Kuipers for making Sightlines her choice for this discussion. Also featured will be books by Art Slade, Candace Savage, Maria Campbell, Ross King and W. O Mitchell. The program is free, and all are welcome. Please come. Tuesday, March 12, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Frances Morrison Library Theatre.

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February 26, 2013
“The Usual Suspect,” a very short excerpt from the novel in progress that I blog about here has been longlisted for this year’s CBC Short Story Prize. Also longlisted is “Make the Soup,” by another sometimes Saskatoon author, Sean Johnston. You can see the entire longlist here. The shortlist will be announced March 11 at Canada Writes.

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December 21, 2012
I’m proud and happy to say that the Kindle edition Sightlines is now up, and available from Amazon. I designed the new cover art myself, beginning with a photograph my cousin Leonard Anderson took at a family reunion in the 1950s. Other ebook formats (Kobo, Sony etc.) will appear in spring 2013. In the meantime, if you have a Kindle or if you download the free Kindle software to your iPad, PC, Mac etc. you can read it on any number of devices. To find out more, go to the Sightlines page at Amazon.ca or Amazon.com. Amazon.com even allows you to “look inside the book” and read the first story. If you like what you see … well, I’ll leave that up to you. It retails for only $3.99 in Canada and the US.

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December 2012
It was a pleasure to be part of the readings on Sunday by students and mentors in the University of Saskatchewan’s MFA in Writing program. Congratulations to the students on their fine work.

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December, 2012
The traditional edition of Sightlines is now out of print (after a good, twelve-year run). Watch for the new ebook, which is in the works now, complete with new cover art.

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October, 2012
Thank you to the folks, row upon row upon row, who came out to the launch of Winnipeg writer Dora Dueck’s story collection What You Get at Home. What a lovely audience. I was happy to be the “opening act,” and to have the opportunity to test out some work in progress, creative nonfiction.

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October, 2012
I’m pleased to be invited to be the guest reader at the launch of Winnipeg writer Dora Dueck’s story collection What You Get at Home. Please join us at McNally Robinson, Monday October 22, 7 p.m. in the travel alcove. “With the power of memory the characters that inhabit What You Get at Home find the strength to carry on when life is at its most challenging.”I’ll be reading from work-in-progress. Hmmm …. novel excerpt or short story?

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March, 2012
I’m looking forward to teaching the Teen Writing Experience (For Sage Hill Writing Experience), July 3 to 6, 2012 in Saskatoon. The course will accept 14 promising young writers. We’ll talk, laugh, write. We’ll be silly and we’ll be serious. We might even act a little.

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September 30, 2011
I’m pleased to announce that my nonfiction manuscript “Unsupervised Swimming” has placed second in the John V. Hicks long manuscript awards sponsored by the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild. “Each finely tuned sentence tightropes between humour and pathos; requires our attentiveness to the step-by-step quest of a writer’s life.” – juror Betsy Warland

The manuscript is an anti-memoir, a collection of writings that touch on subjects ranging from childhood tragedies and everyday perils to romance, to a recollection of 9/11, to the effects of drinking moonshine in northern Greece. (I know: that is not an example of a finely tuned sentence, but it’s late on a Friday afternoon.)

Congratulations to Joanne Weber, who won first place for her manuscript “The Deaf House”. You can find Joanne’s fine poetry in The Pear Orchard from Hagios Press.

And congratulations to the very talented Andréa Ledding, who won third place for her manuscript “Dans les poches des nos coeurs/In the Pockets of Our Hearts”. I understand the book centres on Batoche, Saskatchewan. I also understand that Andréa is extremely talented, a writer to watch. I also hope the accents above the e in her name read properly once this post goes up on the Web.

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September 17, 2011
I’ll be Writer in Residence at the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild’s facilitated retreat this fall. The retreat happens at St. Peter’s, a Benedictine abbey that’s over a century old, not far from Humboldt, Saskatchewan. Dates are November 10 to 13. The retreat is a chance for participants to focus on their own work, PLUS I’ll give a one-hour talk and have a one-on-one discussion with each participant over the course of the retreat. For more information, have a look here. It’ll be fun and inspiring, I swear. Intense, possibly.

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May 25, 2011
It’s really wonderful to find out that The Art of Salvage appears on CBC’s Cross-Country Bookshelf, a place readers are encouraged to look for summer reading ideas and vote for their favourites. Ten “essential” books are listed for each province and region. You can vote! You can vote once per region per day! Enter to win a Kobo e-reader.

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May 11, 2011
I’m very happy to be nominated in the Arts and Culture category of the YWCA’s Women of Distinction program. I’m looking forward to the banquet on May 26. Here’s a look at all the nominees (40 in all!).

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May 11, 2011
My new blog (that is, the blog my character Kate is writing) was launched in March. It’s called Always Under Revision, and it’s about the writing process and the novel-in-progress and creativity in general. Please drop by.

Congratulations to Gerald Hill, Regina poet, whose poetry placed second in this year’s CBC Literary Awards. Well done!

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March 1, 2011
My new blog, alwaysunderrevision.com will launch later this week!

Good luck to Gerald Hill, Regina poet, who made this year’s longlist at the CBC Literary Awards.

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February 15, 2011
I’m pleased that my story Things Get Away appears on the CBC Literary Awards longlist, announced yesterday.

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January 27, 2011
I’m busy developing a new blog. It’s intended to complement this site, not replace it. It’ll go off on a tangent. Postings will be weekly or so. Watch this site for a link in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, I’ll soon be off to Mexico, notebook in hand to catch selected fragments of overheard conversations.

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August 19, 2010
The Emma Collaboration 2010 is over, and what a wonderful week it was. I arrived at Emma a novelist — a person who will shut herself in a room for years at a time before emerging with a finished work — and by the end of the week I was a practising poet, collaborator with two other writers and a book designer on a volume of 36 poems. We generated the poems using a variation of Exquisite Corpse, a game the surrealists invented. The book, beautifully made by Carolyn Qualle, went for over $300 at the fundraising auction!

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July 23, 2010:
“Artifact” is now on at the Saskatchewan Craft Council Gallery on Broadway Avenue in Saskatoon. It’s a show of small pieces created by participants in the upcoming Emma International Collaboration. Drop by the gallery before August 8th to have a look. Opening reception is Sunday July 25 at 8 p.m. My artifact is a four-page collaborative novel that fits in the palm of the hand; print run of a single copy.

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Mid-June 2010:
I’m excited that this summer I’ll be part of the Emma International Collaboration, an eight-day biennial event that brings together 100 artists from around the world to share talents and make collaborative art. The “Collab” will take place in at Ness Creek in Saskatchewan in late July. This year for the first time, three writers and a small number of musicians will join in.

I’m busy crafting an “artifact” that will be part of the group show to be held at the Saskatchewan Craft Council Gallery in Saskatoon in conjunction with the Collab. Each artifact in the show must fit in the palm of the hand.

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Mid June 2010
New title for the novel-in-progress is The Invention of Heroes and Villains. This will change again soon, I expect.

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Late April 2010
I’ve discovered a wonderful stopping place for writers, students of writing and teachers of writing. It’s the web home of Peter Turchi, one of the editors responsible for The Story Behind the Story, a good read and a resource I’ve been using for learning and teaching for a few years now.

Oh, and my novel-in-progress is now called You Used to Tell Me Lies. Or else it’s called Three Pieces of Luck.

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(Early April 2010) The working title of that novel I’m still working on is now Tell Me Lies. I’m sure it’ll change again a few times before it’s between covers. Watch this space for future titles as I continue to change my mind.

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(March 2010) I enjoyed talking with Carol Morin last week on CBC Saskatchewan, who gave The Art of Salvage and enthusiastic review and had interesting questions about character development and title choices.

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(March 2010) I’m still polishing up that novel, the working title of which is now The Mark Maker. I’m also hard at work on the Mavis stories. Later this week I’ll do an interview on CBC Radio; the subject will be The Art of Salvage, so I’ll have to cast my mind back a few years.

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(November 09) Novel-writing being the long and lonely business it is, I’ve little to report except to say I’m having a wonderful time redrafting and redrafting (really; I really am having a wonderful time) and getting this latest novel ready to go to market. Today the working title happens to be Drawing Lessons. Tomorrow that could change.

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(July 09) I had a great time opening for the concert at the Hayloft! Thanks to all of you who made it out. Thanks to Carrie and Curtis, who have created a great, purpose-built house and concert space. It was a great dinner too, Carrie and Curtis. Patrick gave a wonderful concert. Check out his music when you get the chance.

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(July 09) Head over to the Hayloft in Saskatoon on Wednesday, July 22, for a house concert featuring Patrick Brealey. I’ll open the concert with a fifteen minute reading from The Occupations of Muriel Thompson. 401 27th St. W, 7 p.m. Advance tickets only; get them at picatic.

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(March 23/09) Davis, California was a very good place to live and work last fall, as was Victoria BC during January and February. I’ve just returned from a terrific three-week holiday in New Zealand, much of it spent in hiking boots, exploring mountains and rivers and tramping through forests of twisted, Lord-of-the-Rings trees. This is my year to get away from the snow and cold. Much as I love to cross-country ski, a break from winter is always nice. I’ll soon be off to Lincoln, Nebraska, where I’ll be living and writing for the month of April.

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(Sept 15/08) I’ll soon be off to Davis, California (not so far from Sacramento, not so terribly far from San Francisco), where I’ll be living and writing until early December. It seems as good a place to live and write as anywhere.

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(Sept 10/08) On Tuesday September 23, I’ll visit Gerry Hill’s creative writing class at Luther College in Regina. All are welcome at a public reading that evening, 7:30 p.m., Room 208, Luther College, University of Regina. Gerry wears a poet’s shoes.

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(Aug 30/08) Thank you to the enthusiastic participants who joined me at the WAM Festival for the workshop “Relax, It’s Only Words.” I hope you’re still energized by the new work you cycled away with.

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My creative nonfiction piece, Curriculum of a Western Landscape, appears in Brick magazine (#81), just out. This work is a memoir about my father, and it draws heavily on the history and landscape of Eastend Saskatchewan, where it’s rumoured my dad was a cowboy during his younger days. The piece was shortlisted for a CBC Literary Award. A very brief excerpt appeared at the Brick web site. (posted June 11/08)

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BOOK LAUNCH for the limited-edition, hand-assembled chapbook, The Occupations of Muriel Thompson, from JackPine Press. Wednesday, June 18, 2008, 8 p.m., in John and Betsy’s garden, 734 7th Ave. N, Saskatoon. Muriel Thompson is a pseudonym for my mother, and the chapbook tells a story of her life through her occupations, one of which is lacemaker. Each book includes a small piece of lace tatted by my mother in the 1950s or 1960s.

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CBC and ECW Press have published The Mind’s Eye, a compilation of CBC literary award winners from 2001 to 2006, including my piece from 2006. (posted Mar 7/08)

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I’m pleased to report that once again my work has been shortlisted in the creative nonfiction category of the CBC Literary Awards. Last year’s winning piece was an unorthodox memoir about my mother. This year’s is a memoir about my father.

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I was happy to spend a very productive month of October at Stegner House in beautiful Eastend, Saskatchewan, as recipient of the Wallace Stegner Grant for the Arts. Thank you to those who came out to the public reading in Eastend and to the Literary Café in Swift Current. I also had the pleasure of meeting and reading to the grade eleven and twelve students at Eastend High School.

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On May 10, I had the pleasure of talking with the students of the creative writing class at Yorkton Regional High School. Thank you, students and Mr. Nesseth, for your hospitality, your good questions, and the orange cowboy hat. I await the photograph with Flat Stanley.

Thank you also to the friendly and attentive audience at the very well attended May 9 reading at Yorkton Public Library. It was a pleasure to read in a location so close to where I grew up and attended high school. Wonderful to see so many hometown faces. My thanks to librarian Melody Wood.

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In March 2007, I read as part of the Fictitious Reading Series in Toronto. It happens in the gallery space above This Ain’t the Rosedale Library, on Church Street just below Wellesley. Hosts Kate Sutherland and Stuart Ross have created a series that is fun, relaxing and social, with visiting between sets and an on-stage chat to finish off the evening. There were door prizes, too, and the original manner of presentation is half the fun of winning. Check the link above for upcoming readings.

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A well attended reading and signing at the McNally Robinson store in Saskatoon put The Art of Salvage back onto their bestseller list. Thanks for the support.

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CBC LITERARY AWARDS: I’m delighted to announce that The Occupations of Muriel Thompson has won first prize in the creative nonfiction category of the CBC Literary Awards. The prize was awarded at a ceremony at Café Méliès in Montreal on Friday, February 23, 2007. A special edition of The Arts Tonight on CBC Radio One featured Eleanor Wachtel in conversation with the winning authors for the English-language competition (Méira Cook, poetry, Amy Jones, short fiction, and Leona Theis, creative nonfiction). Occupations aired on Between the Covers on Wednesday, February 28.

If you’d like to read The Occupations of Muriel Thompson, it appeared in the March 2007 issue of Air Canada’s in-flight magazine enRoute.

The Occupations of Muriel Thompson is an unorthodox memoir in which a daughter speculates about her mother’s inner life as she carried out a series of occupations, among them amanuensis, lacemaker, journalist, and cancer patient. Traditionally, the raw material for memoir is a person’s memories of his or her own experience. This piece twists the form: it’s based on a set of remembered facts, but since the narrator can’t know another person’s experience of those events, she’s left with speculation. The judges called the piece “a beautifully crafted, mordantly comic, compassionate portrait of a woman who has spent her life at the typewriter, writing other people’s words.”

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The Art of Salvage ranked number 6 (number 3 in fiction) on McNally Robinson’s list of Saskatchewan bestsellers for 2006.

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My thanks to the many book clubs in Saskatoon that have been reading Sightlines and The Art of Salvage over the last few months. I’ve enjoyed these visits immensely. Book club visits will continue through the winter and spring.