Thursday, December 14, 2006

The West Coast Storm

Holley Rubinsky is doing admirable work out there in BC. (I say "out there" because I'm here, snug in Southern Ontario. Were I in BC, I assure you, I'd be using entirely different phraseology.) She not only produces and hosts a half-hour program called The Writers' Show for
but she's lately made a point of asking her guests to contribute a reading for AuthorsAloud.

We're very grateful, and more than happy to welcome as many wet and wind-blown BC writers into our midst as we can find under the fallen branches. First up is the multi-talented and much-acclaimed Caroline Adderson. In the coming days, look for readings from George K. Ilsley, Steve Guppy, and Adam Lewis Schroeder.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Closing in on 30

Since launching just last August, AuthorsAloud has steadily grown, and we're now within a breath of 30 readings. That's triple the number we began with, and testament to the enthusiasm of Canada's literary community. Watch for more big names to appear in the days and weeks ahead.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Quarrington steps to the mic

Half a lifetime ago, back when I was a Toronto magazine editor yearning to write, I sidled up to Paul Quarrington at a party. I didn't know the man, but I'd read and loved Whale Music, and had seen and loved Perfectly Normal, and I'd thought, 'Damn, he's doing exactly what I want to do; his career defines my ambition.' So when I saw him in the crowd, I felt I should share this with him, as a compliment. When I reached him in the crush of shoulders, I told him, without introducing myself, "I want to have your career."

As I recall, he blinked, grinned, and said something suitably sardonic like, "Well I'm using it right now."

Roughly fifteen years later, when I'd finally written my first novel, I asked my editor to see if Paul would read it, in the hope that he would give me a quote. He did, and the quote he gave me was essentially my first good review.

I'm sharing all this with you so that you understand how pleased I am to be able to include a Paul Quarrington reading in AuthorsAloud. Paul did the reading in a recording studio, where he was laying down tracks for a CD with his band, Porkbelly Futures, and I love the rock'n'roll texture the studio mic gives his voice. Be sure to give it a listen.

I also want to alert you, in case you haven't noticed, to the number of other new readings we've added recently. The poetry selection is really starting to flesh out, with recent contributions from Heather Haley and Tracy Hamon; and GG nominee Kathy Page, who has led one of the most interesting lives a writer could, is in the fold as well with a reading from her novel, Alphabet. So click around, there's lots to hear.

Friday, October 27, 2006

How Catherine did it

There are writers out there who would love to be part of AuthorsAloud — and declare their every intention to contribute — who somehow feel daunted by the technological part of the task. Catherine Bush was one of those I think. She was one of the writers I invited early on to be part of what we're doing here, and she was always very supportive of the idea. But somehow things got in the way of the act of sitting down and recording a reading. Part of what was getting in the way, along with living a very busy life, was Catherine's assumption that the task would be more time-consuming and complicated than it was.

But then along came the ever-encouraging Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer to show her what buttons to push, and presto, we have one of the loveliest readings yet on AuthorsAloud, an evocative passage from Catherine's Trillium-nominated third novel, Claire's Head.

"Once Kathryn showed me how," writes Ms Bush, "it was astoundingly easy." Catherine used the built-in mic and GarageBand software included with her Macintosh, and getting a recording took all of five minutes. "It's so easy," she says, "that I feel like I've got to figure out something else to do with GarageBand, the software I thought I'd never use ... maybe I'll be singing in the privacy of my study before we know it."

I asked for Catherine's permission to share her experience because I think it illustrates how easy it is to get over the initial technology concerns many writers have about doing readings for AuthorsAloud. Certainly being a Macintosh owner made things particularly breezy for Catherine, but the process is really not much different for a Windows user. It just takes a willingness to dive in ... and maybe a knowledgeable friend standing by just in case.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

With a Bullet

Just a few days after being indexed by Google, AuthorsAloud is already the number one listing when users search for "Canadian author audio readings." Meanwhile, it's the highest ranked independent site for "Canadian fiction audio readings" (only two primary Amazon listings for audio books rank higher). Thanks to everyone in the vibrant, supportive literary community we call our own for linking to this site, cheering its existence, and helping both readers and writers find their way.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Hallelujah. Not atypically it took more than two months, but Google has finally found and indexed AuthorsAloud. That means soon even more people will be coming to this site to hear the voices of Canada's literary talent. The fun has just begun.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Lots of news

It's been a bit hectic around here lately. ("Here" being the home office). And as a result, I've been negligent in a few of my AuthorsAloud duties. But that's all changed. You may have noticed that novelist, poet and Brick Magazine magician Michael Redhill recently contributed a reading from his stellar new novel Consolation. We're happy to have Michael aboard. And to the right, you'll notice the friendly face of Kimmy Beach, who brings us a reading from her collection fake Paul, a series of poems investigating the mania of Beatles fandom.

From the standpoint of AuthorsAloud, Kimmy's contribution is significant, because it's our 20th reading — that means in roughly two months we've doubled the number of readings we offered on the day of our launch. Don't worry, that's only the beginning. Interest in AuthorsAloud keeps growing, and there are many more readings in the works.

Now, with all the hubbub at the home office, the number of people coming to take a look at AuthorsAloud has jumped appreciably in recent days. And you know how it is when you've got a lot of people coming over? Suddenly the furniture seems a little drab, you feel the need of a snazzy new throw rug or two.

So you may notice, if you've been here before, that a few things about the look of AuthorsAloud have changed. For starters, there's a series of navigation buttons across the top now, rather than on the side. We've done that to accommodate a new page structure for the readings section, where you'll find the names of our authors incorporated into the menu along the left hand side. You'll also notice a gateway page (click on "Readings" above), which will allow you the opportunity to choose what kind of reading you want to hear first. At the moment, the choices show two pages for fiction, and one for poetry. As AuthorsAloud grows, you'll see the choices grow too. And for the first time, you can now get to individual author readings directly from the picture links shown on this page (for those occasions when you know exactly who you want to hear). It's all about choice, and making it easier to find what you seek.

So have a look around, and use the contact page to let us know what you think. Cheers!


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Yet more readings!

Must be the pulse-quickening crispness in the air, but the action has been furious here lately. Since last we spoke, AuthorsAloud has added four new voices, from literary talents both new and experienced. First of the four was young Zach Wells, a poet who brings us pungent impressions of working life in Canada's north. The vivacious short-story writer Heather Birrell gives us a taste of her mysterious new work, the Journey Prize-nominated "BriannaSusanaAlana", a snippet that definitely leaves us wanting more. A true friend of AuthorsAloud, the seriously talented Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, shares an evocative and melancholy passage from her powerful novel, The Nettle Spinner. And the veteran poet and multifaceted literary force George Murray, lays on us a taste of the word-rush from his new, untitled collection, coming this spring.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Climbing the search ladder

Search engine indexing takes time, we're told. This is why Google has been so slow in adding AuthorsAloud to its search results. But other search engines aren't so plodding. In fact, when the keywords "Canadian authors audio readings" were entered into MSN Search on Sept. 22, AuthorsAloud came up No. 1 out of 53,197 results. That deserves an exclamation mark I think — ! ... After widening the search to simply "Canadian authors readings," AuthorsAloud was still a top-five result, out of nearly 169,000 listings.

Over at Yahoo, where a search for "Canadian authors audio readings" produced 199,000 results, AuthorsAloud was at No. 6. (Again — ! ) Widen the search to "Canadian authors readings," and the results balloon to almost one million — and AuthorsAloud is in the top 20! And, in the case of both searches, AuthorsAloud is the only top-rated site dedicated to recorded readings by Canadian authors.

Results may vary from day to day, but this should be very encouraging for anyone who has already contributed a reading to AuthorsAloud or intends to. It's clear that after less than two months, two important search engines already recognize AuthorsAloud as the place to go to hear Canadian authors reading from their work.

We'll let you know when Google joins the party.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Come on in, right through here!

The growth of AuthorsAloud has necessitated some structural changes to the readings section of the site. That means if you've bookmarked the readings page and try to enter the site that way, you'll find the page missing.

So come in through the front door — the main url of AuthorsAloud. You're always welcome, and we've made it worth your while by making sure there's more to see here than before!

Friday, September 15, 2006

More readings

Three new readings have been added to AuthorsAloud in recent days. British Columbia's Holley Rubinsky has added her voice — a melancholy reading from Beyond This Point, the story of what happens to five women during one hot summer in the Judith Lake Valley. Toronto's Richard Scarsbrook reads from his story collection Destiny's Telescope, doing his impression of a 12-year-old girl relating some disturbing memories. And Jonathan Bennett, far from his Australian home and now living in Peterborough, offers a taste of life among the Verandah People. So head to the Readings section — now expanded to two pages, to accommodate the new and coming growth — and check them out.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Spotlight's Glare

The world has begun to notice AuthorsAloud. First there was the Quill & Quire write-up. Then esteemed [places for writers] took notice: "Listen to Canadian greatness" it said. Thanks very much. While that was going on, Edmonton's SEE magazine gave us a nod:

Hamilton-based writer Trevor Cole is demonstrating that appreciation of pleasures literary need not have anything to do with paper at all. His website,, features audio files of Canadian authors contributing readings of their books to the website, which Cole organizes and archives for present and future listening.... Cole hopes to expand the number of readings rapidly.

You're right, See, and thanks. Back in the virtual world, over at online lit-journal Good Reports, Alex Good was good enough to link up to us (cheers, Alex) and that brought us to the attention of heavy-hitter BookNinja, where Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer wrote of AuthorsAloud:

We like. Trevor Cole has started a new Canlit web venture that showcases readings by all our very own pretty people, including Steven Heighton, Madeleine Thien, as well as, soon-to-be-Ninja-contributor John Terpstra reading a wonderful poem called “I Moved To Burlington In My Sleep” (writing down this title has produced a gut pain so profound, I have to rest now).

Kathryn has some history with Burlington, methinks. Anyway, we're very grateful for the attention. And it's not over yet. Something tells me the CBC's online lit portal Words at Large may be working up to something...

All this attention, of course, has alerted quick-thinking publishers and writers to the possibilities of AuthorsAloud, and the email traffic has been thickening daily with forays and plans for contributions. So look for the ranks of AuthorsAloud to swell before too long.


Monday, August 14, 2006

AuthorsAloud makes Quill & Quire

First we launched, and then we became real. On August 11, Canada's book trade magazine Quill & Quire ran an online news piece by Briony Smith that announced the presence of AuthorsAloud to the world. With the help of my friends at McClelland & Stewart, Briony tracked me down in the middle of Quincy Market in Boston, where I was travelling with my daughter. Even though I was bone tired from a day of whale watching aboard a New England Aquarium catamaran, Briony managed to make sense of what I was saying and produced a very nice piece.

In deference to Quill's copyright I won't reprint the entire article here, but I'll quote from it:

"The site’s current roster is an impressive start. Cole enlisted Merilyn Simonds to do a reading for the site, and her enthusiasm for the project spread the word quickly. The site now boasts readings by 10 authors, including Steven Heighton, Katrina Onstad, and Madeleine Thien. More authors’ voices, including Margaret Atwood’s, will be online soon. ... 'Readings let listeners hear the personality in the words that you might not get to see if you just pick up a book and read it. It gives you more of an insight into the author and the literature,' says Cole.

If you have access to Quill's website, you can read the entire article here.

So we're real, and we're growing. Thanks for listening, I'll let you know more soon.


Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Fussing over the cover

My editor, Jennifer Lambert, knows only too well how much I agonize over the covers of my books. Well it seems the same is true with web splash pages. In this case, there was reason for the agony. Early visitors to the site may know (I say "may" for a reason) that I had a lovely slideshow featuring the faces of our featured authors rotating over an audio mix of the music by Tiny Bill Cody and short clips from the author readings featured inside. Well the audio is still there, but the slideshow is scrapped, because while it worked well for browsers such as Safari and Firefox, it disappeared when visitors using Internet Explorer came by.

Since most visitors use Internet Explorer, most visitors were seeing a blank page. Nobody wants to see a blank page, so out went the slideshow. Sometimes, in the world of fiction and poetry, you have to be ruthless. You cut what doesn't work and move on.

At any rate, if you clicked through the opening without your speakers turned up, why not go back and have a listen? See if you can catch Tiny Bill Cody's old-radio-style introduction. I chose that specifically because I thought it made a nice comment on the nature of this site. It's all very clever.

By the way, if you happen to see something else on the site that doesn't look quite right, let me know through the comments or the contact form. Thanks.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

We're Born!

It's been months of work, but AuthorsAloud is up and running with ten fine readings from some of Canada's finest writers. Now that we've gone public, the first job is to thank the people who helped get the project this far. Applause and appreciation first to Tor Lukasik-Foss, who created the AuthorsAloud logo. You can also hear a snippet of Tor's song "The Coming Changes" when you arrive at the opening page of this site (Tor performs around southern Ontario as Tiny Bill Cody, backed by a group of musicians known as The Liquormen, offering up the most literate, ironic pop it's been our pleasure to hear).

Merilyn Simonds was a big supporter of the AuthorsAloud idea early on and led us to a number of exciting young writers. Thanks Merilyn! (More fruit of Merilyn's influence may yet be heard in the coming weeks.) I want to thank Jennifer Lambert and Ashley Dunn of McClelland & Stewart for their encouragement and help. And of course, I want to thank the authors who contributed their voices to a project in its infancy. It takes courage to set your foot in a boat before it's even in the water, but they did without hesitation.

Now, if you're reading this, it's because you care about Canadian literature. So I encourage you to spread the word about AuthorsAloud. Help other writers and readers find their way here so the tent gets big and smoky and rippling with voices. And check back here from time to time for new developments.