April Fools

april foolsApril Fools


so it is spring

so it is snowing

bewildered we turn up our collars

gaze at the skies to question

why and wherefore and whatnot

falling on deaf ears

so we scrape and swear

so we gripe and grimace

grit our teeth against harsh wild winds

blowing across fields

cheekily into the city

where we think we’re immune to

the elemental truths

of life on a prairie

in the snow

in the spring


© 2015 Gail Sidonie Sobat


A Dozen Songs About Fools (with YouTube links – this was such fun!)

1. “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” – Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers

2. “Fools Rush In” – Peggy Lee (and so many others)

3. “Fool on the Hill” – The Beatles and a great version by Sergio Mendes and Brazill 66

4.”Fool If You Think It’s Over” – Chris Rea

5. “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” – Elvin Bishop

6. “Everybody Plays the Fool” – The Main Ingredient

7. “Chain of Fools” – Aretha Franklin

8. “Poor Little Fool” – Ricky Nelson

9. “Fools in Love” – Joe Jackson

10. “What a Fool Believes” – Doobie Brothers

11. “Ordinary Fool” – Paul Williams

12. “Foolish” – Ashanti

12. “Foolish Games” – Jewel   (oops that’s 13 – April Fools!)


Gail will be out of the office from April 2 – 7, 2015.  Have a lovely Easter weekend!


Writing Quote: “Writing is communication, not self-expression; nobody in this world wants to read your diary, except your mother.” – Richard Peck, novelist (b. 1934)

Writing Tip:  “As for ‘Write what you know,’ I was regularly told this as a beginner. I think it’s a very good rule and have always obeyed it. I write about imaginary countries, alien societies on other planets, dragons, wizards, the Napa Valley in 22002. I know these things. I know them better than anybody else possibly could, so it’s my duty to testify about them. I got my knowledge of them, as I got whatever knowledge I have of the hearts and minds of human beings, through imagination working on observation. Like any other novelist. All this rule needs is a good definition of ‘know.'” – Ursula K. Le Guin, novelist (b. 1929)

Writing Prompt:  And so the day began, with a whisper of spring and a faint promise of summer…

Build-a-Book (for poets)

This is going to be a GREAT event, I can already tell. In collaboration with the Edmonton Poetry Festival, we are putting on a practical chapbook-making soiree for poets in the MakerSpace at the Stanley A. Milner library.

Build-A-Book (for poets)

Have you ever thought of compiling some of your poems into a chapbook? Learn how with fellow poets at a practical book-making course in the Edmonton Public Library’s Makerspace. In this free, collaborative seminar, participants will learn how to self-publish their work using the EPL’s state-of-the-art Espresso Book Machine. Watch the book-making process first-hand during the session as we publish a slim anthology of participants’ poems. Participants will also have a chance to read some of their work.

Registration required. Submit your poem for inclusion in our anthology by April 16th to the Writer-In-Residence, Elizabeth Withey. Email ewithey@epl.ca.

Register HERE: Build-A-Book

This Sunday March 29…let’s talk historical writing, memoir, journalism

If you’re intrigued by the research that comes with historical writing, memoir, and journalism, consider attending this free event on Sunday afternoon with Edmonton’s Historian Laureate, Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail, pictured below.

Not Just the Facts: Spinning Stories from History, Memoir, and Journalism

EPL Writer-In-Residence Elizabeth Withey sits down for a fireside chat with Historian Laureate Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail, author of Polar Winds and For the Love of Flying, to discuss their wide-ranging experiences of researching and writing nonfiction. From interviews to oral histories, personal essay to popular history, they will share tips and tricks and a lot of hard-won knowledge. This will be followed by a short private tour of the Heritage Reading Room.

When Sunday, March 29, 2015 2pm
Where Stanley A. Milner Library (Program Room – main floor, west of MakerSpace)

Steam Your Punk – World Building for SpecFic


Steampunk, Fantasy and Sword—or Light Sabre—Play

March 10, 2015 | 7:00 – 8:30 pm | Strathcona County Library

World building is serious stuff to the writers of speculative fiction (SF). Just think of the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien or Ursula K. Le Guin, who spent years dreaming up their respective fictional worlds of Middle Earth and Earthsea, replete with characters, languages, flora, fauna, varying cultures, ideologies and religions. Whether you’ve a penchant for dystopic zombies, otherworldly hell-fiends or steam-run vampire automatons, come examine the essential toolkit for fantasy world building.


Bio pic_KerriKerri Campbell

Kerri Campbell is an aspiring fantasy writer living in Sherwood Park, Alberta. She’s a graduate from the Applied Bachelor of Communications and Professional Writing at MacEwan University, and is currently working towards a second degree in Bachelor of Communication Studies, also from MacEwan University. When she can, Kerri volunteers with YouthWrite®, a camp for kids who love to write…just about anything©, where she helped design and edit YouthWrite’s 2013 and 2014 magazine anthologies. For fun, Kerri daydreams and builds worlds for her stories. After all, reality is overrated.

Natasha Retribution CropNatasha Deen

Literacy advocate and author, Natasha Deen and her family moved to Canada to escape the racial violence and political unrest of Guyana, South America.  Often the only mixed-race child in the class, Natasha’s childhood experiences come through in her work. Her books mix action with humour and the power of self, and feature strong female and male characters. She is published in a variety of genres and has written for children, teens, and adults. In 2013, she was the inaugural Regional Writer in Residence for the Metro Edmonton Library Federation.

Tyler EnfieldTyler Enfield

Tyler Enfield is the award-winning author of the Wrush novel series, as well as the upcoming teen-novel, Madder Carmine, due out October 1, 2015. Tyler is also writer/director of the interactive film Invisible Worlds, produced by the National Film Board, and part of the Rasterverse team, which is developing a six-episode animation series. His photography show, Ghosts of Jerusalem, is on exhibition at the Enfield Gallery.

Cathlpw1989een Rootsaert

Cathleen Rootsaert is an award-winning playwright and improviser who moved into the world of game writing. She has worked with EA/BioWare in Edmonton since 2008 where she wrote for Star Wars: The Old Republic, Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3.  Aside from producing her own work, she has written for many of Edmonton’s theatres, CBC-Radio and CBC-TV, and she is a regular improviser and director at Die-Nasty, the improvised soap opera and a member of Hey Ladies! the improvised live talk show series.


Writing Quote: “I never write exercises, but sometimes I write poems which fail and call them exercises.” – Robert Frost, poet (1874-1963)

Writing Tip:   For each of the characters in a story you are currently writing, create a “fact sheet” in which you list as much as you know about the character.  Begin with obvious facts like gender and age, then go on to include such info as a favourite TV program, attitude to self, long-range goals.  Find out how far you can go before you begin to discover aspects of your characters that remain unknown to you.  Search through the known facts for clues to the unknown. – from A Passion for Narrative by Jack Hodgins

Writing Prompt: It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Read more:  Best First Lines of Novels http://www.infoplease.com/ipea/A0934311.html#ixzz3TukAnfmv

Freedom to Read 2015


I was pleased to participate in two Freedom to Read events in Metro Edmonton on Saturday. One was a reading of excerpts from banned/challenged books at the Woodcroft branch of EPL. The other was a dazzling soiree of music, readings, and flapper pie (!!) out at the Strathcona County Library, organized by our Regional Writer-In-Residence (who can sing!). Here’s a picture that poet and photographer Shawna Lemay took of me reading from Margaret Laurence’s A Jest of God. Thanks to Shawna (who works at Woodcroft) and RWIR Gail Sidonie Sobat for inviting me to participate in the events. Twas fun rubbing shoulders with a whole bunch of writers and musicians, too.

AUTHORPALOOZA #3 – Join me and three other great writers!

On March 11, 2015, it’s AUTHORPALOOZA #3, featuring Metro Edmonton Federation of Libraries Writer in Residence, Gail Sidonie Sobat, apocalyptic novelist Eileen Bell, crime novelist SG Wong,  and zombie novelist Cunnamedraig DiLouie!

It’s a live talk-show, with U of A Writer in Residence, Minister Faust, interviewing four authors for 15 minutes each on the craft and the business of writing. If you’re a writer and want to get ahead, or if you just loving writing, COME ON OUT!

And if you’re a spoken word performer, stick around for the $200 IN PRIZES that the great folks at Devaney’s Irish Pub will be handing out!

AUTHORPALOOZA & Open Stage             Devaney’s Irish Pub                                                                                                    11113 – 87 Avenue, Edmonton                                                                          Wednesday, March 11, 7 – 9 p.m. 


The Big Speakeasy – This Saturday!

Gail will not be in her office Tuesday or Wednesday of this week as she is busily preparing for the Big Speakeasy in honour of Freedom to Read Week, on Saturday, February 28 at 7 pm at Strathcona County Library!

Join us and be dazzled by these fantastic artists and our special guest, Leah Lewis, as we collectively celebrate our freedom to read:


     Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 11.14.45 AMKarla Anderson

In 2005, Karla Anderson hit the world stage when her song “What Else Can I Do?” was given a prime spot on the National Television show “Joan of Arcadia”. Her debut recording,“ The Embassy Sessions,” was released in the summer of 2005, hit the top of the charts wherever it was played, and earned her the Best New/Emerging Artist at the Canadian Folk Music Awards in Dec of 2005 and a nomination for a Western Canadian Music Awards “Outstanding Roots Recording” October 22, 2006. Her sophomore recording “Brand New Day” was released in November 2009, to equally rave reviews. Karla was part of the all-star line-up featured at the 2008 International Leonard Cohen Festival and has been featured on CBC Television several times as well.

anderson_smallTimothy J. Anderson

Timothy Anderson’s work spans opera to science fiction to comedy to health care. With a fistful of university degrees and certificates (ask him!), Timothy sees story potential everywhere. In addition to a long list of publications, productions and prizes, he was writer in residence with the Canadian Opera Company, won the BookTelevision 3-Day Novel Contest, edited for The Books Collective, was a publisher with River Books, and had a stage/concert career. He teaches at YouthWrite®, MacEwan University and the University of Alberta and continues to frequently perform and direct.

Minister_Faust_-_mediumMalcolm Azania aka Minister Faust

Minister Faust is a novelist, print/radio/television journalist, blogger, sketch comedy writer, video game writer, playwright, and poet. He also taught high school and junior high English literature and composition for a decade. The critically-acclaimed author of The Alchemists of Kush and the Kindred Award-winning and Philip K. Dick runner-up Shrinking the Heroes, Minister Faust first achieved literary accolades for his debut novel, The Coyote Kings, which was shortlisted for the Locus Best First Novel, Philip K. Dick, and Compton-Crook awards. Minister Faust is currently finishing his politically satirical War & Mir trilogy, and will be focusing on screenplays and graphic novels during his tenure as writer in residence at the U of A.

Natasha Retribution CropNatasha Deen

Literacy advocate and author, Natasha Deen and her family moved to Canada to escape the racial violence and political unrest of Guyana, South America.  Often the only mixed-race child in the class, Natasha’s childhood experiences come through in her work. Her books mix action with humour and the power of self, and feature strong female and male characters. She is published in a variety of genres and has written for children, teens, and adults. In 2013, she was the inaugural Regional Writer in Residence for the Metro Edmonton Library Federation.

1926905_10152233587814116_103656239_nGeoffrey McMaster

A video producer, news writer and editor at the University of Alberta, Geoff McMaster is a jack of many trades. A university brat, he holds a number of English degrees (specializing in American and African American literature) as well as a degree in journalism from Ryerson. He has been a university professor and an instructor at YouthWrite®. As a freelance video director, he works closely with Jeff Allen Productions, Inc. While non-fiction in-depth pieces and video documentaries are his forté, he is also a photographer and an accomplished musician.

Thomas TrofimukThomas Trofimuk

Thomas Trofimuk is an Edmonton writer who writes poetry, short-fiction, and novels. He has published three novels: The 52nd PoemDoubting Yourself to the Bone, and Waiting for Columbus. His books have garnered critical praise and he has won The Georges Bugnet Alberta Literary Award and The City of Edmonton Book Prize, twice each. He is one of the founders of the Raving Poets and is also a musician. If you want to meet him, he’s that funny looking guy over there, at the edge of the Speakeasy, watching and listening to everything you do and say.

lizpic1Elizabeth Withey

Elizabeth Withey will call the Edmonton Public Library home for 2015. A staff writer for the Edmonton Journal for nearly 11 years, her work has also appeared in newspapers across Canada, well as in magazines and literary journals including Alberta Views, Geist, Eighteen Bridges, Room and Avenue Magazine. Withey grew up in Saskatchewan and has a master’s degree from the University of Oxford. She studied writing at the University of Victoria before moving to Edmonton in 2004. Aside from being an award winning writer, Withey is an advanced yoga practitioner and certified ashtanga instructor, and is also fluent in German, French and Spanish.

SpyderSpyder Yardley-Jones

Spyder Yardley-Jones is an international artist whose shows have caused controversy with his thought-provoking images.  Spyder has been teaching cartooning and illustration for a decade as Artist in Residence through the Edmonton Welsh Society in Edmonton schools. Formerly an educator at the Art Gallery of Alberta, he now instructs through MacEwan University’s Continuing Education program.  Spyder illustrated the picture book, In the Graveyard and the graphic novel, Jamie’s Got a Gun, and has been a YouthWrite® instructor for 19 years. In addition to all of this, Spyder works as a preparator, installing shows at the Art Gallery of Alberta.


Writing Quote: “One must be ruthless with one’s own writing or someone else will be.” – John Berryman, poet (1914-1972)

Writing Tip:   Look and listen. Watch people, eavesdrop, and ask “innocent” questions. Be an observer.  You never know who might end up in your novel.

Writing Prompt: Mrs. Golightly was a shy person…

Score! Giller Prize winner Lynn Coady talk on March 11

I’m delighted to inform you that the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Lynn Coady has agreed to do a reading/Q&A at EPL’s central branch, Stanley A. Milner library, on March 11. Here are the details. Hope to see you there!LC

Life After The Giller
In November 2013, Edmonton author Lynn Coady won the Scotiabank Giller Prize for her short story collection, Hellgoing. What’s life been like since for the novelist, journalist, and newly minted screenwriter? Join Coady for a Q&A with Elizabeth Withey, the Edmonton Public Library’s Writer In Residence. Coady will also read from Hellgoing.

When: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 7 p.m.
Where: Stanley A. Milner Library Program Room (next to the MakerSpace)
Cost: This is a free event. No registration is required.

Come On Baby, Light My Fire!

The weaAdam-and-Eve-e1346079003542ther outside may be frightful, but this workshop, Come On Baby, Light My Fire!,will hopefully keep you warm!  Join me this Tuesday at 7 pm at Strathcona County Library.

In the spirit of the season of love, the hot topic is desire. After all, sex and death are two of the greatest inextricably linked themes in literature. Desire is the key to how it all starts, and presumably leads to the end. Find out how this tension works in stories by the masters, and how to make it sizzle in your own.

Self-publishing! Opinion writing! February writing events at EPL

I’m pleased to announce two writing talks happening at the Edmonton Public Library during the month of February. Both feature established, award-winning local writers who I’ve no doubt will make the sessions both informative and entertaining.

From Writer to Author: A Talk on Self-Publishing
Tuesday Feb 3, 7 p.m.
Stanley A. Milner Library – Milner Program Room **MakerSpace** (room change!)

Interested in publishing your finished manuscript or daunted by the difficult task of getting published once you finish your masterpiece? Join acclaimed novelist Thomas Wharton and Faces of Edmonton creator Shayne Woodsmith for a conversation on self-publishing. These two writers will discuss their experiences with, the process of, and what challenges with preparing a story for self-publication.
Thomas Wharton is author of seven books of fiction, including The Perilous Realm trilogy. He has been a finalist for many major literary prizes, including the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and recently self-published his latest novel, Every Blade of Grass, through CreateSpace. Shayne Woodsmith is the author of two self-published novels and the creator of the Faces of Edmonton storytelling project.

But That’s Just My Opinion
Sunday Feb 22, 2 p.m.
Jasper Place Branch – Edmonton Public Library

We all have opinions about all kinds of things. But how do you write a persuasive essay or on-line rant that gets beyond mere sound and fury? Prolific Edmonton Journal columnist Paula Simons (Twitter: @paulatics) talks about techniques good writers can use to get beyond the empty JMO rhetoric.