All Lit Up First Birthday: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

September 15, 2015

It’s our First Birthday! When we’re not partaking in the undoubtedly sticky nightmare that is “ cake smashing” today, we’re taking both: a look back at some of our favourite posts that went down during our first year, and a glance forward at fall books we’re just ecstatic about.

To thank you for your support this past year, and to help you celebrate with us, nearly every title in the All Lit Up store is 15% off from now until September 30th, 2015. Pick up an old favourite or get a kickstart on your fall reading, and feel our immense gratitude. FEEL IT.

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It’s our First Birthday! When we’re not partaking in the undoubtedly sticky nightmare that is “ cake smashing” today, we’re taking both: a look back at some of our favourite posts that went down during our first year, and a glance forward at fall books we’re just ecstatic about.

To thank you for your support this past year, and to help you celebrate with us, nearly every title in the All Lit Up store is 15% off from now until September 30th, 2015. Pick up an old favourite or get a kickstart on your fall reading, and feel our immense gratitude. FEEL IT.

 

Christen’s Picks

graffiti

Blog post: The blog post I would pick is “ 2015 New Year's Resolution: Read More Poetry.” Last winter, commuting through Toronto's most concentrated publishing neighbourhood in Trinity–Spadina, I spotted "Read Books" graffiti (delightfully in the parking lot next to publishing-support organizations ACP and eBOUND). That graffiti not only lasted weeks before it was taken down, but would then be decorated with gold sparkly paint, and more text (to which I would say, "and then let's talk about them.") It inspired the poetry blog post title.

meadowlark

Fall book: Wendi Stewart's debut Bildungsroman Meadowlark, released under NeWest Press' Nunatak First Fiction Series, captured me immediately with its stunning cover, moving copy, and impressive reviews. It depicts a young woman's hard-won triumph over heartbreaking personal tragedy who finds solace in friendship, and from grief, hope and survival. The protagonist, Rebecca Archer, is saved from a car accident by her father, both haunted by the tragic death of her mother and baby brother. Rebecca begins to question the circumstances of the event, and through the company and support of her friends, each with their own struggles, she learns to save herself. I'm very much looking forward to reading and talking about this novel.

Christen's favourite 'gram: We're Totes All Lined Up for All Lit Up!

 

A photo posted by AllLitUp.ca (@alllitupcanada) on

 

 

Tan's Picks

Blog Post: One of my favourite blog posts from the past year was Amanda Leduc's “ The Days of Meta-Meta: Fictional Characters and What They Might like to Read.” Turns out, many of my favourite fictional characters would borrow from my personal library. DOOM – the poetry collection Leduc recommends to Tony Stark – was the first LPG title I read in my new job. And Maidenhead would certainly bring some perspective to Anna Steele's relationship with Mr. Grey. Better yet, this list offers me several additions for my TBR shelf (I am way too organized to pile my books); I've had my eye on Robin Spano's mysteries for some time now, and Husk and Necrophiliac seem like perfect Halloween-y reading to me! This is one blog post that I hope we revisit annually at ALU HQ.

betweenthecracks she fell

Fall book: One of the novels I am stoked for this Fall is Lisa de Nikolits' latest, Between the Cracks She Fell (Inanna Publications). This is de Nikolits' 5th novel, and in it, she traces the inner life of a woman who has lost everything, including her sense of self. Somewhere between the walls of an abandoned school and the pages of a forgotten journal lies a new path for Joss. One that will question all of her ideas about faith, religion and identity. De Nikolits has a reputation for writing great characters, and three of her previous novels won IPPY awards the year after publication. That's all the pedigree this reader needs to seat Between the Cracks She Fell at the head of my Fall reading class.

Tan's favourite 'gram: My small obsession with Magnetic Poetry.

 

 

Tanya’s Picks

Blog post: The blog post from the last year that stands out in my mind the most is our first Test Kitchen post, for several reasons. It was one of the very first ideas we had when we started thinking about what the ALU blog would be. Like the standard fiction writing rule of “show, don’t tell”, we wanted to have blog posts that were more than just telling you about particular books. Plus as an avid baker and allaround person-who-loves-to-eat, getting the opportunity to bake as part of my job was awesome. It was also just a really fun time to spend with my colleagues; many of our conversations revolve around food so it was great to share a meal with them. And finally, your response! It was one of our most shared blog posts, so thank you for liking the fact that I narrated our lunch (using some pretty awesome Canadian regional cookbooks!).

pauls

Fall book: I’m really excited to read the first book by Jess Taylor, Pauls, published by BookThug this fall. Pauls is a series of interconnected stories about people and their strange quirks, unforgettable pasts, and the different ways we see the world and they all happen to be named Paul. The title story won Gold at the 2013 National Magazine Awards and the BookThugs are developing a reputation for selecting quirky but awesome fiction so count me in!

Tanya's favourite 'gram: We love it when our publishers – in this case, Playwrights Canada Press – send us fun marketing materials!

 

A photo posted by AllLitUp.ca (@alllitupcanada) on

 

Julia’s Picks

Blog post: " Jules' Tools for Social Change: Hot, Wet and Shaking ; an interview with Kaleigh Trace." This post was the first in my new monthly column, Jules' Tools for Social Change, and it's still my favourite! Kaleigh and I worked through some technical difficulties and ended up Skype-recording our entire conversation twice, due to a persistent echo in our first interview. Kaleigh was so easy to talk to – twice! Her discussions of her intersecting identities, the mutability of language ("queer" and both an adjective and a verb) and her hopes for her book are peppered with her incredibly charming laugh. We also enjoyed a small aside after she accidentally dropped the F-word, something that, surprisingly, hadn't happened in our first take. ("I don't know if we have to cut that or not! … It's probably fine." It was.) If you haven't yet read Kaleigh's wonderful, personal, funny, smart memoir and primer on disability, sexuality and queerness, you really should.

sideshowconcessions

Fall book:  Sideshow Concessions, by Lucas Crawford (Invisible Publishing). Lucas Crawford is the 2015 Canadian Women in the Literary Arts (CWILA) Critic-in-residence, where he is working on a project interrogating how trans literature is integral to women's literature, how transgender defies genre, and the production of statistics about transgender authorship in the study of gender equity in publishing and reviewing. I can't wait to read Lucas's work at the end of his tenure at CWILA, but while we wait for that, we can look forward to his Robert Kroetsch Award-winning debut collection of poetry, Sideshow Concessions. This collection is themed on the narrator's experiences of a sometimes-hostile rural coming of age, living in a fat, queer, transgender body that is perceived as and likened to a circus. I've been lucky enough to read an advance manuscript and found Sideshow Concessions to be incredibly readable and honest, with many phrases and passages that jump off the page and demand to be re-read:

From "Memoramdum for the Fellows at the Gym":

Fit: adjective meaning suitable, adequate, appropriate.
When did becoming thoroughly average
start to seem like such a good goal?
Next time you’re powerlifting,
that’s something new you’ll need to work out.

Julia's favourite 'gram: From the photo wall at the All Lit Up launch party, September 24, 2014. 

 

 

Barb’s Picks

Blog post: I loved the post " Hearts Hot and Time Passing" from last fall; it really reflects how Canadian literature is way more exciting than people expect. This is the kind of stuff I want people to know about contemporary CanLit, that it’s full of life, pain, excitement and the road less travelled. Writers, and their publishers, are pushing the boundaries hard and creating an amazing bounty of literature reflecting the vastness of our country and its people. Blog posts like this are so encouraging to writers, and enticing to readers.

savingher

Fall book: I’m really looking forward to Christian McPherson’s new novel, Saving Her. Now or Never publishes edgy fiction and I am always excited to see what they have coming up. Saving Her, a book about a woman coping with a downward spiral of drugs, alcohol and mental illness sounds tense and fraught, and I look forward to reading this poetic author’s fascinating new fiction title.

Barb's favourite 'gram: When you love your publishers so much you buy soda to highlight their gorgeous covers!

 

 

Lauren’s Picks

Blog post: It’s one of my favourite things to write for the All Lit Up blog, but I have to say that my fave post from the past year was not one I wrote, but a contribution from the inimitable Julie Wilson about Lorna Crozier’s The Book of Marvels. Julie’s love letter to this book was so intimate, so familiar. It was the first thing we published that was more memoir than book journalism, and was harrowing and beautiful to the point where I felt like a failure of an editor with nothing to change. It made me take a second, then third, look at the things I surrounded myself with, and, moreover, my own books as totems or sage bundles that have guided me through those destabilizing moments – good and bad – in life.

careen

Fall book: I’m super-excited to read Carolyn Smart’s Careen (Brick Books), narrative poetry chronicling the story of Bonnie and Clyde through dialogue and newspaper articles. As always, her language looks spot-on, omitting final consonants in a Southern-US style of voice:

even our shoes flashin, we are some fun jokers
are not coarse, cannot lie, do not limp or bleed
are kind & funny, desperately in love
we are you but better, no denyin

Lauren's favourite 'gram: While a lot of businesses may pretend to be friends, we’re kind of the real deal at All Lit Up. In this picture we were hanging out in a park, discreetly imbibing and eating a whole bunch of cheese (as is our purview). Not pictured: some serious laughs.

 

A photo posted by AllLitUp.ca (@alllitupcanada) on


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