May 7, 2010

Book Panel at the VPL Celebrates Mother's Day

Writers and mothers gathered at the Vancouver Public Library on Wednesday, May 5 at 7:30 pm to hear readings and a panel discussion featuring Double Lives contributors Catherine Owen and Luanne Armstrong. Also featured were contributors to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, Dorothy Woodend and Rachel Rose (whose work also appeared in Double Lives), and their accomplished editor, Cori Howard.

The evening also included a presentation to the winner of this year's Creativity and Motherhood contest. Lucie Joseph describes herself as someone currently "pursuing two new passions--motherhood and writing." She draws her inspiration from "her past and from the adventures that she has with her 17-month old son, Jeffrey."

We would like to congratulate Lucie for her winning story and thank everyone who entered the contest. To read the winning story, click here.

March 12, 2010

Mother's Day Writing Contest

Calling all mothering artists, creative moms, and moms-to-be! Are you an artist/writer considering motherhood? A seasoned parent returning to writing or art-making after some time away? Or are you a creating mom who has something new to say about how these two powerful life forces intersect?

If so, and in honour of Mother’s Day 2010, we invite you to join the writers and editors of the anthologies Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood and Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth about Motherhood by entering our CREATIVITY AND MOTHERHOOD nonfiction writing contest. The winner will be announced at our joint reading and panel discussion, 7:30 pm Wednesday May 5, at the Vancouver Public Library, downtown branch.

So come up on stage and be congratulated! Just send your typed, double-spaced nonfiction story of up to 500 words along with your name and contact information to shannoncowan {at} shaw {dot} ca by April 15, letting us know how creativity and motherhood intersect in your life, or in the lives of those around you. The lucky winner will receive one free copy of each of the anthologies. The winning essay will also be published online.

Double Lives Co-hosts Mother's Day Panel, May 5, 2010

This Mother’s Day, celebrate the intersection of creation and creativity with award-winning authors Catherine Owen, Rachel Rose, Luanne Armstrong, and Dorothy Woodend. Hosted by Cathy Stonehouse (Double Lives: Writers and Motherhood) and Cori Howard (Between Interruptions and The Momoir Project), this event will illuminate the rewards of nurturing children while pursuing the passion to write.

View or print a high resolution poster for this event.

Read biographies of presenters and moderators.

December 8, 2009

Herizons Reviews Double Lives

The fall issue of Herizons calls Double Lives a "poignant and searing anthology." Here are some excerpts from the review.

"The collection is intensely personal, filled with intimacies and confessions."

"In Double Lives, the editors have assembled a remarkable collection. For all of the difficulties and challenges the contributors faced, almost without exception they would heartily endorse the closing piece by Rachel Rose. In 'Letters to a Young Mother Who Writes,' Rose affirms that 'mothering has made me a better writer.'"

October 7, 2009

Geist Reviews Double Lives

Writer Jill Boettger talks about transformations in her Double Lives review:
'When my mother-in-law gave me a copy of Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood, edited by Shannon Cowan, Fiona Tinwei Lam and Cathy Stonehouse (McGill-Queen’s University Press), I was touched by her gesture in support of my writer-self and pleased to discover, when I opened the book, a sense of camaraderie with the women in the essays. Their stories reminded me that, as Stephanie Bolster says in her essay, “Transformations,” “what is most worthwhile is rarely easy.”'
Read the full review.

February 13, 2009

Double Lives in Canadian Literature

"In her preface to Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood, Marni Jackson observes how little has changed since she published The Mother Zone in 1992. Although a new generation of mothers seems even more determined “not to let motherhood change their lives,” this determination is futile “because, of course, having children transforms you.” The twenty-four personal narratives that make up Double Lives suggest that women continue to be surprised by the difference between how they imagined the impact of mothering upon their writing and the reality of the experience. Surprised by motherhood, they write, often in fragments—because who has time?—about themselves, their children, and the world."
>>Read the full review.

February 12, 2009

Ascent Magazine Reviews Double Lives

"Double Lives offers more than many touching and often humorous silhouettes of the everyday lives of mothers who write. It offers a compelling forum for discussing the many societal and cultural threads that form the backdrop from which writing mothers express themselves."
>>Read the complete review.“

December 27, 2008

Double Lives in the Vancouver Courier

Double Lives co-editor Fiona Lam discusses children, writing, and everything in between with Vancouver Courier author, Michael Kissinger.

"What destroys more writers than sunlight, absinthe addiction and ill-fitting berets combined? Having kids. Which is why an anthology like Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood is such a marvel. Not only is it the first Canadian literary anthology that focuses on mothering and writing, it was edited by three writers who happen to be mothers, Shannon Cowan, Cathy Stonehouse and Fiona Tinwei Lam. A former lawyer and accomplished poet, Lam took time from her busy schedule to nurture the Courier's 10 Questions and discuss mom jeans, her intimate knowledge of Raffi and how much her six-year-old son Robbie gets for allowance..."

>> Read the complete article here.

Prairie Fire Reviews Double Lives

"This anthology is enjoyable and engrossing. The variety of styles keeps the reader entertained, and the layout, with its sections of "Room to Write," "Becoming a Writer," "Mothering First," "The Muse" and "Words of Advice," makes for an easy transition from one story to the next. Despite, or perhaps because of its focus on the duality of writing and motherhood, the anthology works well as a book of instruction for writers, full of wisdom and tips. All in all, this collection is well crafted and gracefully done; musing time well spent."

>> Read the complete review.

June 1, 2008

Writing Tips from an Island Mom

As some of you may know, we recently ran a writing contest on the McGill-Queen’s University Press Facebook site, on the subject of writing and mothering. Our winner was mom/writer Annette Yourk, of Quadra Island, BC, who will receive a free copy of Double Lives. In a recent e-interview, Annette said:

I live on Quadra Island, between Vancouver Island and mainland B.C. Seventeen years ago we bought five acres of raw land here and began to build. We were pretty broke. The first manifestation of our home was a fourteen by twenty-four foot cabin with no indoor plumbing. My workspace was a three foot length of one by eight board laid across an open drawer of the bureau - a change table by day. It was just enough room for the keyboard of my borrowed computer. Since then we've built additions off each side of the cabin. We have plumbing! My workspace includes computer, table, filing cabinet, a bookshelf, cork board and an opening window. Still no room-of-my-own, though. Sigh.Mothering has certainly figured in my work, especially in the total-immersion periods. Relationships overall, with people and places, figure prominently in my work. My tip for mother-writers seeking a place to escape to is make it accessible. Being able to slip away at short notice will trump the most fabulous and inspiring location. I have this wild fantasy that I will retreat to Twillingate, Newfoundland and finish my novel, but I'm not holding my breath. My biggest wish for the world’s children is that the adults in the world stop saying "it's up to the youth to fix this mess," shake off global mono-culture and materialism, and start living in authentic relationship with each other and the earth.

May 14, 2008

Double Lives nets excellent reviews

"Doubles Lives is a provocative collection … The majority [of the essays] are so well written that they undermine at least part of the book's premise … However difficult it may have been, especially for the young mothers, to find the personal space, the musing time or simply a brain to write with, they did it and did it well.
There are as many types of domestic situations depicted here as there are writing styles … Reading these very personal and moving essays, I realize that it is the lucky ones who have merely double lives."
--Dede Crane, The Globe and Mail.

"Writer-mothers whose children are grown and who read this book will recall those long-ago days when we struggled to meet our own need for self-expression as well as the needs of our children. But this collection should especially be read by new mothers -- and fathers -- hoping to continue or begin writing professionally."
--Monique Polak, Montreal Gazette.

"Double Lives is full of tales of mothers trying to eke out a writing career while raising, sometimes alone and on welfare, small children.
Some of the stories are gruelling, the way birth stories tend to be -- difficult to read, but equally difficult to put down. There are tales of snatches of poetry written in the middle of the night between a baby's bouts of squalling, of writers who were young and single mothers but still managed to find time and space to write during the in-between hours, and plenty of stories of mothers wracked by guilt that they are not doing either job well."
-- Elizabeth Payne, The Ottawa Citizen.

"Double Lives … sets up on camp directly on the teeming anthill that is writing with children … [The anthology] reaches further [than other similar anthologies] in attempting to create a community for writers through writing, which is the best way to reach bookish girls anyways."
--Ariel Gordon, Winnipeg Free Press.

Vancouver launch a riproaring success!

The Vancouver launch of Double Lives took place on a wet and chilly Saturday evening, the night before Mother’s Day, at funky, welcoming Little Nest café just off Vancouver’s Commercial Drive, and the event was a riproaring success!
Upwards of 50 people, including parents, grandparents and kids, packed into the high-ceilinged space and listened with rapt attention to local contributors Jane Silcott, Cori Howard, Luanne Armstrong, Deirdre Maultsaid, Fiona Tinwei Lam, Catherine Kirkness and Rachel Rose reading from their essays before tucking into delicious dips and sumptuous cake and lining up to get their anthologies signed. Local bookseller Blackberry Books sold over 40 copies and all three editors were thrilled by the book’s reception, going to bed only to wake to the news of yet more media coverage, following our excellent reviews in Saturday’s Globe and Mail.
In fact, Mother’s Day weekend saw great coverage of the anthology nationwide, including reviews and features in the Victoria Times-Colonist, Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Winnipeg Free Press and Vancouver Sun. So thanks to all our wonderful contributors and the team at MQUP for all your hard work--it has paid off. Double Lives has officially arrived.

May 7, 2008

Double Lives Triply Celebrated

The lives of various Double Lives contributors, editors and fans were doubly busy this past weekend as our anthology launched in three Canadian cities, Toronto, Kingston and Montreal.

On Saturday May 3 in Toronto’s Another Story bookstore, our preface writer and mothering/writing role model Marni Jackson read alongside editor/contributor Fiona Tinwei Lam and contributors Janice Kulyk Keefer, Susan Olding and Noreen Shanahan to an appreciative crowd.
This event was swiftly followed by a similarly successful launch on Sunday evening in Kingston’s Novel Idea, and a warm and intimate evening of readings in McGill-Queen’s University Press hometown of Montreal on Monday night.

Thanks to all those involved in the organizing of these events.

Here on the West Coast we are getting giddy about our Vancouver launch on Saturday May 10, 7-9 pm at Little Nest Café, 1716 Charles Street at Commercial Drive. What a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day, the arrival of which is also rumoured to be bringing us some great press coverage. We will be keeping our eyes peeled for that weekend’s editions of The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the Ottawa Citizen.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

March 24, 2008

Quill and Quire Praises Double Lives

In Quill & Quire's April 2008 issue, Kristen den Hartog had this to say about Double Lives: Motherhood and Writing:

"These essays cover a broad terrain. The authors included here--some well-know, many little-known--are diverse in their backgrounds and experiences. Some are currently juggling motherhood and writing; others raised children in an earlier era, and built writing careers despite the popular belief that they couldn't do both; some have set aside their aspirations to focus on family. There are teenage moms, middle-aged moms, lesbian moms, and adoptive moms. The editors have thoughtfully gathered and ordered their stories. With each one, this moving anthology opens up and out, managing to be philosophical, pragmatic, nurturing, and intensely personal.....
Many of the essays refer to what Janice Kulyk Keefer, in 'Motherlodes, Muses, Mapmakers,' describes as that 'clamped stated of mind,' which offers so little space for creativity. With motherhood, writing time shrivels, as do uninterrupted hours of contemplation.
This courageous and revealing book--prefaced by Marni Jackson, author of The Mother Zone, lays out that reality in ways as varied as its writers' voices. It belongs in every mother-writers' library, to be read not in one gulp, but piece by piece, as the situation demands--and, of course, as time permits."

March 19, 2008

Double Lives Goes Live

All moms have their conception stories.

So how did Double Lives come about?

Well, a couple of months after my daughter was born, I thirsted after writing that included us, that charted the experience of the writing mother/ mothering writer in language that was descriptive, not judgmental. Having come from a line of women whose creativity was either diverted or stifled by the demands of husbands and children and/or the simple facts of staying alive, I felt I was entering dangerous yet exciting territory. Would I, too, succumb to the stresses? Who could I journey with? Enter Fiona and Shannon, friends and writers who became mothers shortly before I did. We tossed around crazy ideas, like putting together an anthology of essays that addressed this experience. Like giddy primaparas in our first trimesters, little did we know how challenging and enlightening the process of bringing that book to life would eventually become.

And now here she is: Double Lives: Writers on Mothering, red and shiny as a fresh placenta. And like any collaborative project, she has an extensive community behind her: 25 brilliant contributors, an exacting and supportive publisher, numerous devoted editors and publicists, plus friends and family. Paralleling my journey into writing motherhood, these past three years have seen Double Lives take shape.

Oh, and yesterday I began a poem about my daughter.

Three and a half years after she was born, I still struggle to find words to describe her and the impact she has had on my life. It’s always been that way for me. Writing about what is closest, and especially what is dearest, challenges me in ways I only partly understand. Yet becoming a mother has changed my brain forever.

Check this blog for news and updates as Double Lives moves out into the world.

March 17, 2008

Enter the Double Lives Writing Contest!

In May 2008 McGill-Queen’s University Press will publish Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood, an anthology that brings together twenty-two writers who reveal their personal experiences of nurturing children while pursuing the passion to write. Anyone who has lived the life of an artist while raising a family is familiar with the unique challenges and rewards this lifestyle presents. We want to hear your stories. McGill-Queen’s is inviting all parents, mums and dads, who are also artists – writers, visual artists, performing artists – to submit a piece of creative writing, (500 words or less), about your personal experiences as artist / parent. How do you balance parenthood with your artistic practice? Did your work change after you became a parent? Any words of wisdom for other artist parents?

Please email your submission to by 15 April 2008. Five winning entrants will receive a complimentary copy of Double Lives, and have their story posted on the McGill-Queen’s web site.

March 12, 2008

Welcome to the home of Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood

Double Lives is a compelling and exciting collection of twenty-five original personal essays about the challenges and synergies of pursuing the passion to write while having a family. From seasoned professionals to noteworthy new talents, the authors in this collection make a significant and illuminating contribution to our understanding of how writer and mother co-exist. Double Lives is available from your local bookstore and we encourage you to buy locally. Find a bookstore.

From the Book:

"Writing is a kind of ongoing conversation or quarrel with one's self. When children come into the picture, the voices multiply, overlap and become confused. What I discovered in my own new motherhood, and in the process of writing a book about it, was that the self is not a watertight vessel that sails you through the rough seas of family life. It is and has to be more permeable."

-- from the Introduction by Marni Jackson

"If you find yourself in the situation of recently having created life, it won't hurt to recognize the spiritual doors that have opened to you. And why should such an opening be free of pain? Even following the barn owl for a day makes the back ache and the knees stammer. The other name for such good work is joy."

-- from "Letters to a Young Mother Who Writes" by Rachel Rose

Book Launch Dates for Double Lives

Please celebrate with us in the following locations...

May 3—Toronto, 5pm, Another Story Books, 315 Roncesvalles Avenue

May 4—Kingston, 2pm, Novel Idea, 156 Princess Street

May 5—Montreal, 5pm, Paragraphe Books, 2220 McGill College Avenue

May 10—Vancouver, 7pm, Little Nest Café, 1716 Charles Street