It’s almost 2016!

What a year this has been for When the Saints. This story has been with me for a very long time, and now it’s with all of you. I just wanted to give a heartfelt thanks to every reader who connected with it and took the time to let me know that it brought them joy.

If I could make a holiday wish for the Saint family, I’d want them all to get cell phones. Pay phones are increasingly hard to find. And I want Janis to wake up Christmas morning to find one of those giant stuffed animals that can’t even fit under the tree (remember she chucked out Lippy the Bear.)

I’m thinking this guy will do:

Janis 2

In new novel news, I am going to be hard at work on a ghost story all winter long. I already set up a station next to the woodstove in the heart of the house. I live in a little cottage with windows on all sides, so when the snow starts swirling, I feel like I’m in a snow globe. It is THE best…until the ocean starts howling like it’s about to crash through the walls (but then again the new novel is creepy, so perhaps it will feed the muse.)

Have a spectacular holiday, everyone. Be good to yourselves and each other.

Sarah Mian


Dear E.C.,

Recently I was scouring a thrift store for vinyl records when I came across a pile of books about the writing craft.  Each one had the initials E.C. scrawled in its inside cover.

I couldn’t help but imagine E.C. shaking his fist at the sky as he dumped his dream into a donation bin and got on with the business of teaching or accounting or pumping gas or whatever else feels less like pissing in the wind.

I own a similar collection of “how to be a writer” manuals that I pored over in my early 20s. Besides the endless pointers on style and technique, these books stress the need to silence your inner critic and negotiate time and space in which to write with dedication. Good and necessary advice. But here’s what they don’t tell you. Here is the secret to becoming not just a published writer, but a good one…

Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work.

Just like a basketball player who dreams of being in the NBA might stand on a patch of uneven concrete beneath a flickery streetlight for hours on end, night after night, shooting three-pointers while solving angles and speed and thrust and how to focus one’s quirks rather than subdue them until SWISH! SWISH! SWISH!, so must a writer spend years stewing in her own words as she figures out how to dredge an imaginary plot and setting and characters from the depths of her mind and arrange a story onto the page so intact that we can all examine it and say, This has to be real. A writer must create situations that make strangers cry or fret or become enraged the same way real life does– except that in a novel, the experience is slowed down and allows the reader contemplation in a way that real life can’t. Reading a book can change a person’s life. Thus, a writer’s work is very important. It demands precise attention, god-like patience and endless trial and error.  It can take a lifetime to gestate a living breathing story then give birth to it with all its fingers, a strong heart, and a signature wail so loud and beautiful it draws people from all over the city, or the province, or the country, or sometimes even the whole world.

Don’t give up, E.C. If you want to be a successful writer, you cannot expect results for a very, very long time. Nor should you. If this doesn’t put you off the journey, congratulations and buy a bottle of whiskey: You’re a writer.

As for those how-to books…

Writing can’t be taught, but that doesn’t mean writers shouldn’t try to help each other across their story’s tightropes and through its gordian knots. Sometimes a three-point shooter needs a coach’s eye, someone whose been in the game long enough to suggest, “Try aiming three centimetres to your left.”

This spring, that coach is me. I’ve been invited to each a fiction course at the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia. I’ll post details and enrollment instructions once they become available. The course is open to anyone.

Even you, E.C.


P.S. – I bought your books back for you.







Launch Party!


When the Saints is finally out of my head and free to roam the streets! I’m having a party at Gus’ Pub to celebrate the exorcism featuring a spoiler-free reading, a performance by the mysterious French From France, $5 North Brewing Co. pints and free sliders from Ace Burger while they last! Put on your coat, toque, scarf, mittens and drinking boots and come on down, won’t you? Bookmark will be selling the book tax-free for $23 and they take cash or credit card.

See invite for RSVP info.





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