*Record Scratch*

*Freeze Frame* It's shortlisted for what?

Yup, that's me. (Okay, that’s three time Olympian Rosey Edeh and my book.) You're probably wondering how I ended up in this situation—and to be honest, I don't know myself.

I have been sitting on this for a while now, and now I can finally say it—

The Midnight Bargain is a finalist in the 2021 Canada Reads Competition. Hold on, I have to read that again. I what? It's what? Did you say Canada Reads, what

W h a t

No, it's real. It's really happening. 

Okay to explain: back in 2002 when I was working as a cashier in a gas station across the street from one of Calgary's favorite pubs, the radio that broadcast inside and outside the station was CBC Radio One, which at the time was mostly talk programs. I think it was supposed to create a psychologically hostile environment for teenagers or something. Anyway. It was the season of sunshine and poplar pollen, and I had become deeply invested in a debate between

  • The lead singer of the Barenaked Ladies

  • Canada's first and only woman Prime Minister

  • A remarkable Canadian SF novelist who would go on to become an SFWA Grand Master

  • A novelist who would go on to receive the Order of Canada, and 

  • The woman who brought Anne of Green Gables to life on Canadian television.

What was this extraordinary collection of people debating? Why, about what book all of Canada should come together and read that year. I know. That's the most Canadian thing you have ever heard. Shush. I was invested. It was only a few days, but I was on shift for all of them. I was team Handmaid's Tale, but the victor was In the Skin of a Lion, and I managed to find a copy and satisfy my curiosity. It was a big deal.

I've been fond of Canada Reads ever since.

And I still cannot believe I'm going to be part of it.

If you're in Canada, a special trade paperback edition of The Midnight Bargain (complete with an absolutely fetching medal proclaiming it a Canada Reads 2021 finalist) will be available in bookstores across the nation.

Awards Eligibility Round Up

only three things. that's all.

Hi it’s December and so I thought I would list the stuff I did that is eligible for awards real quick

For your consideration: Short Story

St. Valentine, St. Abigail, St. Brigid - tor.com

For your consideration: Novel

Stormsong - Book 2 of the Kingston cycle - tor.com

The Midnight Bargain - Erehwon Books

That’s it! Thank you very much.

I know. I never call, I never write...

The cycle of newsletter guilt continues!

Hi! I know it’s been months since I wrote a newsletter. I have no good excuse, really. It’s just perfectionism keeping me from writing because of one tiny little detail or whatever. So here I am, all prodigal and everything.

Some of you may know that I had a book birthday this week, and I think it’s doing pretty well. I did a virtual event with Kate Elliott last night and had a brilliant time talking to her - mostly we geeked about worldbuilding. I’ve seen some great reviews for The Midnight Bargain so far, too.

If you would like to see me at a virtual book tour event, here’s my itinerary:

TOMORROW! Oct 17th - the Savoy bookshop! Details here: https://www.banksquarebooks.com/event/virtual-cl-polk-midnight-bargain-author-discussion

Oct 20th - Third Place Books, with Kat Howard! Reserve a spot: https://www.thirdplacebooks.com/event/live-zoom-cl-polk-conversation-kat-howard-midnight-bargain

Oct 21st - Old Firehouse Books, with Mary Robinette Kowal! This one should be great fun. All the information you need is here: https://www.oldfirehousebooks.com/event/cl-polk-conversation-mary-robinette-kowal-0

Oct 28th - Northshire Books, with Fran Wilde! We’ll be getting up to nonsense, and everything you need to know to join us is here: https://www.northshire.com/event/northshire-live-cl-polk-presents-midnight-bargain-0

I think that’s everything! I hope to see you around zoom sometime!

Three--no, Four--no, Five things make a post

Countdown to Midnight: a promotional scavenger hunt that ends in a zoom tea party with C. L. Polk

It's pre-launch season and that means The Midnight Bargain is going to be showing off a little in the weeks leading up to its release - and every event you tag will gain you a chance to win a signed, annotated hardcover of The Midnight Bargain!

But while there is only one of these prizes available, we also will have runner up prizes that include an ebook version of the story, and you're all invited to tea with me!

I'll be on Zoom with you to talk about books, writing, knitting, and how lovely/dreadful the weather has been lately. Bring the beverage of your choice--I'm imagining that I will have some s'mores chai from David's Tea, myself.

I will have more details about the countdown event coming, but watch for it! The game begins on the week of July 21st. 

What I'm Knitting

As of today I am still waiting on the yarn required to make a sweater inspired by an example I saw in the Alexander McQueen pre-fall collection, so I haven't any progress pictures just yet! More to come when the yarn arrives.

Meanwhile, I'm slowly working on an interpretation of the iconic Tom Baker Dr. Who scarf. I knitted a version for myself as my first ever knitting project, but I made it impractically long and out of a heavier gauge acrylic yarn.

My newer version is a fingering weight effort, knitted in Brooklyn Tweed Loft. the colors are in the spirit of the original, but not quite the same. I imagine this scarf as the pop of colour when worn against my fall/winter capsule, which is utterly dominated by gray and black: 

Other things knitters may be interested in: my friend Meredith Martin has started a Youtube channel concentrating on knitting as a part of historical costuming. She knitted a mystery scarf from a 19th century source, and it turned out great! you can see it on her YouTube channel:

Food and Drink

July is the month where I hit my "bake bread" phase, I guess. But instead of baking bread, I'm cooking for myself. I was in a deep, deep depression funk and relying on take-out for months, and this change to "cook from scratch and fresh ingredients" has had a noticeable effect on my mood and well being. I've been discovering different ways to cook foods I hadn't really tried to cook on my own, and I have discovered that there are many passionate opinions about how to best fry a fish fillet in a saucepan. My personal take: you don't need the flour, honest. A good coating of an interesting spice blend will do nicely. My favorite so far: A blend from my local shop called "West African Citrus Spice." I finished it with a squeeze of lemon, but orange might be even better.

My Writing Lately

My twitter thread on what might be causing wip writer's block was popular. If you didn't see it, the original tweet is right here - or if you prefer, I made a plot post so it wouldn't get lost to the scroll.

I'm working on a new wip for Erehwon Books. There isn't a lot I can tell you just yet, as I am only a little way into the first act of the first draft. But it's a bit about art history and it's a bit about a just society falling to complacency. My main character is an aroace woman who is doing her best to shake off a deep scandal from her student days, and her curiosity lands her in the middle of a five hundred year old secret...

What I'm listening to

A lot of summer jams, honestly. I have admired the work of Amerigo Gazaway and he has two offerings I've been slipping on my headphones for - 

The Cool Out Corner - This is a mixtape. I love it because it mixes music played across decades, so one moment you're with Kool and The Gang, and the next you're with Kendrick Lamar, and it all makes me want to move my feet. I've been playing it when it's time to clean the kitchen and cook.

You can listen on youtube, and the whole mix is available on Bandcamp.

Thank you

Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter. I hope you enjoy the music, looking at the knitting, and hunting down entry tokens for the Midnight Bargain Countdown!


A cover reveal, the albums in my rotation, a comforting flavored tea, and a super-viral yarn dyer--it's all below. 

Good News First

I have a cover reveal today!

The Midnight Bargain releases on October 13, 2020 from Erehwon Books, and you can check out the cover on themarysue.com!

(I made a jigsaw puzzle of the cover too, if you’ve caught on to the jigsaw puzzle distraction. You can solve it at Jigsawexplorer.com.)

I love this gorgeous cover by Micaela Alciano, and I'm so excited to unveil this story. Watch my twitter for a line-sharing game today!

Events and Appearances

...Well. There were places I was planning on going, but I don't know if I'm going. I'm pretty sure I'm not, and that makes me really sad. But this is what hasn't been cancelled yet:

4th Street Fantasy, Minnesota, June: This is my favorite convention and I look forward to it every year. (please please please let me go to this con I want to see everyone.)

When Words Collide, Calgary, August: we're still playing COVID-chicken with this one. This is my local writer's conference. I don't know a ton of people at this one, but I try to attend every year regardless.

For virtual cons, I'm attending the Nebulas, but not as a panelist or anything. I'm just showing up to get the content and hang out in the room parties. But if you want to talk to me about fantasy romance, I will be on reddit’s r/fantasy on April 20 with Stephanie Burgis, Beth Cato, J. Kathleen Cheney, Jeffe Kennedy, and Quenby Olson!

What's in my pre-order list?

BLACK SUN, by Rebecca Roanhorse


MACHINE, Elizabeth Bear

I am ridiculously excited for all of these books. A brand new series featuring Pre-Columbian Americas with political backbiting in a matriarchal society? The sequel to A Memory Called Empire, where Mahit has to practice diplomacy with a dangerous alien armada? The sequel to Ancestral Night, starring a doctor specializing in treating aliens?

I'm so hyped. 

People of Craft - The Blue Brick Yarns

First things first: A warning. These gorgeous yarns are dyed to order, and everyone wants them - if you do too, there will be a beautiful skein ready to surprise you in a few months.

Last year I saw an amazing pattern on Ravelry called Wingspan. I was taken by the design, but the first thing out of my mouth was "that yarn's incredible."

This, for example, is the best rainbow gradient I have ever seen:

A lot of people thought the same thing about Shireen's astonishing gradient yarns. The Blue Brick went super viral as thousands of people rushed the site to order them, and she's been swamped ever since, and I know I'm not helping but if you're a yarn person go have a look!

I have a skein of Muscovy tucked up in my stash, and I have another skein of Apuglia coming my way. I think they'll wind up being scarves that hype up the lovely gradient effect.

What's in my teacup?

On twitter, I asked people to talk about their current or their favorite teas, and my fantastic agent Caitlin talked about S'mores Chai, a flavored pu erh from David's Tea that's sadly no longer available in the USA, but I ordered some from the canadian website.

Oh no. I love it. I enjoy flavored teas, and this one is sweet because of the real chocolate chips and marshmallows in the blend. A little milk and I have a comforting cup that satisfies my sweet tooth.

What's on my Spotify?

So Jealous, Tegan and Sara

I will put Canadian Indie up against all comers. I'm having a throwback moment with local heroes Tegan and Sara - I blame it on my annual rewatch of Grey's Anatomy. But the strummable singalong songs on their early Vapor records breakout are bouncing me through quarantine spring chores.

Pitchfork hated this album when it came out, accusing it of being a haphazard collection of hooks with no substance. Sorry to that reviewer, but all these years later I'm still having a good time with the album's infectious sound. It makes me remember mid-aughts Calgary at a time when the city was becoming more than just a boring oil and gas town, and a return to more cheerful times is what I need right now. 

Try out a track: You Wouldn’t Like Me

You and Your Friends, Peach Pit

That Peach Pit album is brand new, and I was so excited to find it after falling so thoroughly for the single, Drop the Guillotine. I'm really hoping that I'll be able to watch this group develop over many more records. Christopher Vanderkooy's nimble guitar power buoys up this music, hooking you in with the melodies and its "if I'm so happy why am I crying" lyrical themes. The tracks are a bit uneven, but I can feel the development between this offering and their debut. Peach Pit was supposed to play in Calgary on the 23rd, and I'm so sad I can't go see them.

Try out a track: You and Your Friends

Stationery Obsessions

Ink of the Moment: On twitter, I mentioned some vetiver scented ink. Specifically, I'm using J. Herbin Noir Inspiration, which "takes us on a nocturnal olfactory stroll evoking woody scents smoked with round tobacco, and a subtle union of moss and vetiver." 

It's marvelous stuff. Vetiver is my favorite perfume note, and I've imprinted on the scent after writing my bullet journal with it.

Current Pen of Choice: I've always liked a fine line with my fountain pens, and I picked up a Platinum 3776 with an ultra-extra fine gold nib. I had to order it from Japan, but I'm awfully fond of it. Is it toothy? A little. I don't think you can avoid it with a nib this fine. But my curiosity is well satisfied.

Not another Notebook: I was intrigued by the combination ruled and grid paper in Lamy's latest notebook offering. I think it's pretty cool, and I'm glad I checked it out.

Okay I think that's enough newsletter this time! I'll see you next time I have some good news!


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