Thursday, April 24, 2014

Planning On Peaking

I'm planning on peaking this weekend.

Pikes Peaking.

I'll be one of the Conference Faculty at Pikes Peak Writers Conference, being held in Colorado Springs, CO April 25th to 27th.

Apart from getting to spend some time with an amazing group of writers and other presenters and speakers, I'll be leading the following workshops/talks:

FRIDAY:  My Journey Through Traditional & Self-Publishing

A look at my journey through traditional and self-publishing, how success in one area has lead to opportunities and success in another and the importance for writers to embrace both as they build their careers and grow readerships globally.

SATURDAY: More Things In Heaven & Earth

An examination of the importance of embracing all options as a writer - traditional publishing plus self-publishing as well as why it is critical for writers to ensure their work is available in as many different retail locations (both online and bricks and mortar) as possible to reach the broadest possible audience. The title takes it's cue from an oft-quoted phrase I use:  "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreampt of on the shores of the world's longest river."

SUNDAY:   Have Kobo, Will Travel

An exploration of the global opportunities available to authors who publish to Kobo. An exploration of where Kobo Writing Life authors are from and where, globally their books have sold. A look at details of what sells well in what global markets and how authors are leveraging KWL to grow new audiences in Kobo's 190 countries and through their thousands of retail partners around the world.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Getting Publishing With Michell Plested

I met Mike Plested a few years ago when World Fantasy Con was held in Toronto.

I listened to him as he participated in a couple of panels, and then I had the good fortune to chat with him for a while at the ChiZine party one of the evenings.

Robert Runte, Michell Plested, Emily Craven, Mark Leslie

Ever since meeting Mike and talking shop with him and a few other wonderful writer-types into the wee hours of the night, I started listening to his Get Published podcast.

Mike is the author of Mik Murdoch, Boy Superhero (which I was delighted to learn is being followed up this year with Book Two), and the editor of A Method to the Madness: A Guide to the Super Evil. Apart from being a brilliant author, he also shares great information with the writing community on his podcast.

Being a big fan of Michell's wonderful podcast, and having enjoyed so many great conversations that he has on his show, I was delighted to be a guest (wearing both my Kobo hat and my author hat) on his show for Episode 133.

We talk about Kobo Writing Life as well as my own experiences as a writer. Fun stuff.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Writers of the Future

I just got back from five days in Los Angeles at the annual Writers of the Future celebration.

Being a writer of speculative fiction, I have long known about the awards and have even entered a couple of stories there (before I had made enough pro sales to disqualify me from entering again) - and that's one of the great things about WOTF. It is designed to provide a platform (and launching pad) for beginning writers.

WOTF Vol 30 - Kobo Link

Created in 1983 by L. Ron Hubbard as a way of discovering and nurturing new talent in science fiction, fantasy and horror, the competition has no entry fee and winners who are published received pro rates and a chance to win the grand prize of $5000. Past winners of the contest have gone on to win every major science fiction award (the Hugo, the Nebula, the John W. Campbell, the Bram Stoker, and the Locus Award) some have also gone on to win mainstream literary awards such as the National Book Award, the Newbery and the Pushcart Prize.

The stories are read blind by a panel of distinguished judges who are a veritable who's-who of the biggest most influential people in speculative fiction.

But beyond winning, what I learned more about this past week was the intensive five day master-class workshops lead by several of the biggest names in sci-fi. These workshops teach them so many of the skills that are important to a writer's success and were held in the Author Services office which is located on Hollywood Boulevard just down the street from where all the big glamour Hollywood action happens.

Me getting out of the limo-van at the red carpet

I was most impressed at the afternoon where Galaxy Press publisher John Goodwin spent four hours working with the students on their PR and self-promotion skills, helping them refine their "story pitch" when speaking with media and providing them all with professional, high quality media kits (which included pictures and video of them on the red carpet and on stage receiving their prestigious awards - similar packages were sent out to each author and illustrator's respective local media).

The buzz and business of the red carpet

I mean, my non-fiction publisher, Dundurn, is great and has a fantastic author-relations program, newsletter and digital eduction program and wonderful publicists - but wow, I've never seen a publisher do so much for beginning writers, and doubt I will ever see an anthology give such an amazing promotional platform for its contributors.

But let's get back to the red carpet, shall we.

A long-shot of when I first walked onto the stage for my talk

Yes, the awards ceremony, which were held on Sunday April 13, were held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, had all the glamour and ritz of a major Hollywood movie premiere. (The book nerd in me was, admittedly, overwhelmed with excitement and a special thrill - THIS is the type of buzz that should exist more for books)

There was a fantastic dinner followed by a red carpet entrance with buzz and media and a 3 hour gala event with musical and dance performances and black tie celebrations.

I was delighted to be invited to be a guest speaker at the event and was asked to talk about the future of publishing. I surprised the winners (13 writers and 12 illustrators) with Kobo Aura HD's preloaded with their newly published anthology.

Cool to see my name spelled correctly - and my tie is even straight!

(I have to pause to say that, though I have done speaking engagements in four different countries and on all types of stages, this was the first time I had the pleasure of being able to read my speech from a teleprompter - pretty darned cool!)

I was delighted to speak alongside people like Nancy Kress (who presented the Writer's Digest Award), Keynote Speaker Leland Melvin (Aerospace Engineer and NASA Astronaut) as well as so many amazing NYT Bestselling authors: Kevin J. Anderson, Doug Beason, Eric Flint, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Todd McCaffrey, Rebecca Moesta, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Tim Powers, Mike Resnick, Robert J. Sawyer and Dave Wolverton.  WOW! (Yes, I geeked out just a little, several times that evening and throughout the week when I got to hang out with many of these wonderful folks)

Here is the full video of the WOTF 2014 Awards - (I appear a little after 42:00 minutes and speak for about 5 minutes)

Because I was set to go on stage right after Orson Scott Card received his Lifetime Achievement Award (which starts at 36 minutes), I got to watch his acceptance speech from the side of the stage.

Oh yeah, and right after the awards, I met Nancy Cartwright, the actor who does the voice for Bart Simpson. Ay Carumba! That was pretty darned cool.

Though she did the voice, which was cool, Nancy didn't have a cow when I asked for a picture

The Wilshire Ebell Theatre, which apparently was standing-room only, holds about 1200 people. And afterwards, most of the folks from the theatre gathered in the ballrooms, art galleries and courtyard of the Ebell. At this gala reception, all the writers and illustrators signed copies of the book. It was amazing to see such a gigantic lineup of people waiting to get autographs. It took me a full hour to made the circuit and get everyone's signatures. What an amazing experience for these author (for several this was their very first book signing experience - pretty awesome!)

The whole Writers of the Future was an amazing experience and the good folks from Author Services (the agency representing the literary, theatrical and musical works of L. Ron Hubbard) and Galaxy Press (publisher of Hubbard's fiction) were exceptional hosts and were so incredibly gracious and supportive of not just the winning authors and illustrators, but of all their guests.  (I was quite impressed with the amazing collection in their library of all of the books from past winners and esteemed judges).  The judges and past winners themselves were, in that same spirit, particularly generous of their time, wisdom and knowledge -- I have to say the "pay it forward" sentiment that was continually at the forefront was quite spectacular.

These folks certainly know how to promote and encourage great writing and creative achievement and it was an honour and a pleasure getting to spend time helping celebrate the amazing new talent that will help continue to shape the field of speculative fiction.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Darkly Funny Snowman Tales

So spring arrives in a few hours.

Joy for many.

Not such a happy moment for some others.

I am looking forward to spring; this winter has certainly been long enough. But am I the only one who can detect the subtle and quiet unnerving screams of our snowy friends as their season of joy ends, and their version of the apocalypse begins?

One of my most popular stories (for reader response, customer reviews and public readings) is "That Old Silk Hat They Found" - a re-imagined look at what might really happy if a snowman came to life. The other is "Ides of March" a look at an odd pair of strangers driving around in a truck and kidnapping snowmen.

I did recently sell a recently written snowman story to a YA anthology that will be coming out in 2015 (although that story is one that addresses teen bullying and suicide - a completely different perspective than these playful tales, and I'm quite proud of my latest return in fiction to the use of snowmen), but right now my two snowman stories wonderfully demonstrate the essence of the dark humour in my fiction.

Both stories appear in my book One Hand Screaming, but are available to read for FREE in ePub format (Kobo, Nook, iBooks), Kindle (Amazon) and online/app via Wattpad.

If you check them out and read them, I would love it if you could post a review on your favourite review site. It does make a huge difference.

"I'll never look at snowmen the same again. Shiver, yes! Highly recommend them!" - Amazon customer review
"In a word - chilling. Or better yet - cool. Really cool." - Goodreads reader review

"Brilliantly written snowman stories!" - Nook customer review
"I'll never build another snowman!" - Amazon customer review
"Delightfully weird and creepy!" - Wattpad reader review

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Beer In Your Honour, Dad!

Another St. Patrick's Day and another year that I will be tipping a beer back tonight in honour of my Dad, who died on this day 11 years ago.

My Dad and I BBQing in Levack, ON - mid 1990's

At bedtime tonight, I'll also take the time to tell my son another story about the grandfather he never had the chance to meet, but who is very much present in so many of the things that we do together.

My Son and I, at my Dad's BBQ in Levack, ON - mid 2000's

It doesn't get any easier each year this anniversary hits. The pain and loss never really goes away. It just grows a little different as time passes. Love never dies. It grows stronger and memories, precious memories are clung to and new memories are made. I'm so glad that I matured enough to appreciate my father for the man that he was before I lost him; that I had begun to pay attention to all of the things that he could teach me.

And most of my thoughts about my Dad now turn and result in reflecting on my relationship with my own son, and the special moments and fun memories that we are building.

Last week, we took a family trip down to Myrtle Beach; it was great to be able to spend so much time with my family after so much work related travel recently. Zander and I had a wonderful time playing in the pool, solving magical quests together, exploring hands-on science, climbing through 3-story obstacles, zip-lining and racing go-karts. We even shared a few of those special and strange moments of looking into the night sky and speculated together about the possibility of aliens life and UFO's. All new memories of fathers and sons. All special moments that I will continue to cherish in future years.

Here are a few of the annual posts about my Dad's loss from 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Another Great Night Out With Authors

I had an amazing time at a recent ChiSeries Toronto reading on Wednesday night. A great crowd, I got to share the stage with two amazing writers and a couple of fantastic musicians.  Good times.

Looking forward to another Toronto reading event with multiple for a reading series called Night Out With Authors.

Monday, January 20, 2014
featuring   Mark Leslie,  Kate Maddison,   Margaret Moore and   
Open Mic for Writers*
Doors Open at 6:30 at the Tranzac Club Readings begin at 7:15

One of the things I love about Night Out With Authors is that the have Open Mic for Writers as part of the evening.

This allows writers who want a chance to share their work or even cut their chops on getting public reading experiences a great chance to do so.

There is a $5 cover to get in that night, but it does look like it'll be a wonderful evening.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

January Brings Cold Plus Cool Readings

I am delighted to be one of the authors featured at this month's ChiSeries Toronto readings on Wednesday January 15th from 8PM to 11PM.

I will be reading alongside the amazing Gemma Files (whom I haven't seen in ages it seems) and the wonderful Emily Pohl-Weary (whom I'm looking forward to meeting).  Kari Maaren will be the evening's musical guest.

I have only been to a couple of the ChiSeries readings, but have avidly enjoyed each one. Great people, good conversation and fun readings.

Here is the Facebook Events page for it.

If you're in the neighbourhood of Augusta & Dundas (Augusta is about halfway between Bathurst & Spadina on Dundas St. W), pop in for a fun evening.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Top 10 Books Read in 2013

For the past several years, I have written post summarizing the best 10 books that I read in the previous year.  I have found it a lot of fun. Of course, since I'm such a slow reader and I quite enjoyed MOST of the books I read each year, it's really hard to narrow it down to only 10.  My "short-list" is likely closer to 20 books, which makes it really difficult, since some amazing reads ended up not in the top 10.

Here are the basic rules I follow for this annual post:
a) The book has to be completed within the calendar year. So, even if I started reading a book the previous year it only counts when I actually finish reading it.  I also don't include books that I abandoned mid-way through reading (which I do quite often I'm afraid - sometimes I get back to them, when I do, I count them only once completed)
b) This is a list of books I READ in 2013 - so this isn’t a “Best Books of 2013” lists - it’s a personal list of my favourite books which I read in the last calendar year.  (Thus, there will be plenty of titles that were published well before 2013 on my list)
c) I don’t count the children’s picture books that I read with my son. Not because I don’t think of them as books - they are wonderful books - but we go through them so quickly (and so many times) that I couldn't possibly keep up with tracking them. (I DO, however, count mostly text based young reader and young adult books that I read - usually because they’re not books that can be read in a single short sitting -- ie, they take longer to consume and thus aren’t likely to be missed on my list)

A few summary stats:

I read 53 books in 2013.  Not bad. I was shooting to hit at least 52 and did okay. Not great. Not shabby. Satisfactory.  Of course, 4 of those books were graphic novels and 7 of them were under 30,000 words.  But I still considered the reading experience unique and worth culling out separately.

  • 38 FICTION
  • (4 were graphic novels)
  • (18 of the books I listened to in audio format)
  • (9 of the books on this list were read in print - 26 of them were eBooks) - I did, however, purchase 12 of the books print.  (Yes, I buy more print books than I read - I bought at least another dozen or so books for myself last year that I haven't yet read and at least two dozen more books that were given to other people......curse of the book nerd)

Here are the TOP 10 FICTION BOOKS that I enjoyed the most reading in 2013. 

THE BLACK BOX - Michael Connelly
I love Harry Bosch, and this is another enjoyable read. Beautiful story, great twists, incredible mystery.

Another triumph from Pyper - a terrifying thriller ride following a Milton scholar on a trip through hell as he tries to find his daughter who was taken by a demon. 
DOCTOR SLEEP - Stephen King
I was impressed with King's look at how the traumatic events of "The Shining" affected Danny, including the alcoholism and drug abuse related to trying to block out his "talent." 
DEVOURED - Jason Brant
Brant is a solid writer whose prose and this post-apocalyptic thriller with an intriguing plague that turns people first into "slow zombies" and then more dangerous powerful "vampire-like" creatures kept me hooked from beginning to end

FANGIRL - Rainbow Rowell
I was told to read "Eleanor & Park" first, but this one captured my attention first. I love the way Rowell riffs off Harry-Potter type craze and particularly how she explores the world of fan fiction from the writer's perspective.

FAT VAMPIRE - Johnny B. Truant
This could, so easily, have turned into one of those short cute jokes turned into a SNL type skit that runs way too long, but Truant takes the premise and portrays Reginald (the hero) in a sympathetic and compassionate light. It's funny, but also suspenseful and satisfying. I immediately went on to read Fat Vampire 2: Tastes Like Chicken. (There are 6 books in total in this great series

This one hung out on my "to read" pile for quite a while. I kicked myself for having waited to get into it. Despite the tear-inspiring moments and teenage angst, there are some fun and interesting characters that kept me reading and enjoying thoroughly.

GONE GIRL - Gillian Flynn
Wow. So I avoided this one because it was so damn popular and I guess I didn't realize how much of a fantastic thriller it would be. It caught me by surprise and delighted me.  The "he said" / "she said" dual-ling perspective was incredibly well done by Flynn.
ORIGIN - J.A. Konrath
An incredible techno-thriller with all the elements that makes Michael Crichton great combined with a good solid dose of sci-fi arguments regarding religion and the universe merged with a nice punch of fear and terror.

A TAP ON THE WINDOW - Linwood Barclay
Barclay's thrillers are always satisfying, and this one, involving missing people, small town cover-ups, other secrets that may or may not have something to do with suspicious activities from the police, and the tragic suicide of a teenage son, is no exception. Brilliantly written.

Here are the TOP 5 NON-FICTION Books that I read this past year:

Owen is a wonderful inspiration, and this incredible little book is perfect for writers, artists and creators of any sort. Owen provides tremendous perspective on such things as not sacrificing something you want the most for something you want the most this moment

THE POWER OF HABIT - Charles Duhigg
A wonderful look at habits, including the underlying reasons behind the habits that we make, the hidden motivations that drive us to continue our habit-forming ways, and the reason why it is virtually impossible to break a habit, but not to replace one.

SALT, SUGAR, FAT - Michael Moss
Startling, intriguing and informative. You'll never look at the food industry or processed food the same way again. I'm actually a little surprised I haven't bought some land and starting growing all my own food after reading this.
I bought this after watching Eager on stage at a digital book event in New York. He was engaging and informative and entertaining, so I bought the book shortly after his talk. The book itself is well-done and, despite having read numerous books on promotion, I made a ton of notes in the margins of this one.

TRAFFIC - Tom Vanderbilt
Before reading this book I always thought that "late mergers" (the folks who rush to the end of an open lane whenever a lane is ending on a highway) were selfish jerks. But, understanding traffic flow better, I realize the longer people stay in that lane, the better traffic flows for everyone.  (So long as the jerks don't cut people off and drive like idiots while doing so)

Above I have linked to each author's own web page.  For purchasing the books, I'm sure there's a "world's longest river" that everybody knows about, but I'd like to also recommend trying to keep the money you spend on books as local as possible and check the books our at your favourite local bookstore.  Indiebound.org has a listing of  indie bookstores in Canada and the US. (And, hey, if you're in the US, your favourite local bookstore is also likely able to be able to sell you the eBook too, via a collaboration between Kobo and the ABA......check out Indiebound.org)  There, I'll get down off my soapbox (for now).

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries

I am delighted that Dundurn is going to publish my third non-fiction exploration of the paranormal.

Just like my first one (Haunted Hamilton) was about the city I live in and love, and my second one (Spooky Sudbury - co-authored with Jenny Jelen) was about the city I grew up in and continue to adore, this third one is about something VERY close to my heart.

Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores & Libraries (slated for publication in the Fall of 2014) is going to focus on the places I cherish and am quite passionate about. I have been a bookseller since 1992 and have spent my entire life surrounded with books. In my travels, one of the things I enjoy most is checking out local bookstores; and when I'm in a town long enough I like to also investigate the local library. The people who work at these locations are truly my kind of people, and often the stories they share not just about the books they love but about their community and sometimes, when the spirit moves them, about some of the darker stories and local legends, are worth compiling and sharing.

Like my looks at two beloved cities and their people, Tomes of Terror will be as much about the wonder of the places that hold books as much as it will be about the ghost stories that are shared about those spaces.

One of my favourite book quotes is Cicero's "A room without books is like a body without a soul." I hope to capture the very spirit of those words in my book, by celebrating both the wonder and magic of the bookstores and libraries that are written about as well as the thrill and chill of the ghostly tales that accompany those locations.

Though I already have a number of stories compiled, I'm still collecting tales. So if there is a local bookstore or library that you are familiar with that is haunted, has an eerie tale associated with it, or even just some interesting story that might make a person wonder if there are more things "in heaven and earth" than we normally perceive, please feel free to share them using this submission form.  It just could be the chance to have YOUR favourite local bookstore or library featured in my next book.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Help Me Capture A Caption

I took Barnaby to visit Santa recently. It was fun for everyone, including Santa.

But every time I look at this picture I keep wondering what words are possibly being exchanged between Barnaby and Santa.

Rather than decide this completely on my own, I thought it might be more fun to open it up to everyone and see what fun stuff people can come up with.

So, please help me capture a caption for this photo.

Feel free to leave your caption in the comment field - but, for the purposes of trying to give something back for your effort, I created a FORM where the caption can be entered, and that way I could easily pull the options from a compiled list to decide on a winner as well as draw some randomly selected names to receive fun prizes.


Here are the prizes being offered.

  • A signed copy of my forthcoming novel I, DEATH (Atomic Fez, Late 2014)
  • A signed copy of the 10th Anniversary edition of ONE HAND SCREAMING (Late 2014)
PRIZES FOR ENTERING (3 randomly selected entrants will each receive)

  • A $10 gift certificate from Kobo, Amazon or Chapters/Indigo

Entries will be accepted until midnight on Dec 23rd, 2013.  A Grand Prize winner will be selected  and a post will go up with the winning entry.  The grand prize winner and random entrant winners will be contacted by email over the "Christmas holidays."

For more Barnaby fun, check out his Pinterest and Facebook page.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

End of November Events

I will be doing a series of speaking/writing engagements to cap off November.

On Wednesday November 27th I will be the featured author during the Brantford Public Library's Aspiring Author Gala Showcase, which is a chance for authors from the community to meet, share a bit about their work and then learn from a colleague.  I'll be sharing a bit about my publishing history, how I have embraced both traditional publishing and self-publishing and also do a reading.

Brantford Public Library, 173 Colborne Street, Brantford, ON -  6:30 PM  - FREE EVENT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

The lovely poster that the good folks at Brantford Public Libary made for this event

On Thursday November 28th I will be speaking with the Sudbury Writers Guild on a talk entitled EMBRACING ALL OPTIONS. I will discuss self-publishing, digital publishing, outlining the various options available to writers. While I will be covering a multitude of opportunities for writers I will, of course, be sharing detailed insights and about all that Kobo Writing Life has to offer to writers and help authors who are taking advantage of eBook publishing to sell more.

Kinsmen Room B in the Parkside Older Adult Centre at the YMCA (140 Durham Street , Sudbury, Ontari) - 6:30 PM -

On Friday November 29th I will be signing copies of SPOOKY SUDBURY at the Coles in New Sudbury Centre between 1 and 3 PM.  To celebrate BLACK FRIDAY, I'm offering all shoppers free copies from a selection of my eBooks at Kobo. (And, no, you don't need to own a Kobo reader in order to read them - you can use one of the FREE Kobo apps on virtually any device. Also, the books in which I own the rights to have no DRM on them, so the ePubs can be moved onto any device that reads ePub files (like a Sony or Nook reader - although, let's be honest, the Kobo readers are the best ones on the market anyway - and yes, I suppose I'm a little biased)

And on Saturday November 30th, I'm going to desperately try to finish my NaNoWriMo novel. I'm in the home stretch now, with less than 10,000 words to go......

Saturday, November 16, 2013

NaNo NoNo's

So NaNoWriMo is half over.

At just over 20,000 words, I'm slipping behind. I can blame the extremely long hours that I work, all of the traveling I have done these past few weeks and the fact my job is one of those 24-7 ones where I dip into email at virtually any hour of the day.

But, ultimately, I have NOBODY to blame but myself.

My stats as of 8 AM this morning - I wrote for about 1 hour and produced 1000 words. I need to write at least a few more hours today and a few more hours on Sunday to get back on track

Here are a few things that I have done wrong.

I fully intended to outline the entire novella I'm working on in advance. At least get the beats down. And I had started on it - I had made some notes regarding the generic story arc, but I never completed more than the first third of the novella's detailed story beats. So far, it has been good, and I have (as always happens) discovered characters and situations and scenes that never occurred to me while planning the story -- but that has also slowed me down, meaning I might produce 1000 words on a particular day rather than the 1667 required.

I have dipped into email first thing in the morning, where I had originally budgeted a half hour to one hour slot for writin, and ended up falling down the rabbit hole that my 24-7 job can often become. The work will never go away, there'll always be well more than I can tackle. Thus, if I don't put writing first before digging in to email, I'll never get back to the writin.


To get 1667 words per day, I need to plant my butt in a chair and produce words. Simple enough. I must remember my favourite writing quote, which comes from Hugh Prather: " />If the desire to write is not accompanied by actual writing, then the desire is not to write."

Here are a few things I have done right:

1) I have taken advantage of unique fresh time-slots and locations to get extra writing done - at the airport, on the airplane; writing instead of watching TV at night, etc. I have also used an audio dictation while in the car to record notes and story beat ideas

2) I have done my best to shoot for 2000 words rather than 1667 words, so I can buffer myself for those days I don't write, or don't write as much. The reality is, those no writing days, or less writing days will happen, so that buffer has helped.

3) I have kept at it and not let myself get discouraged. When I look at the monthly chart above, I see more green than red, so far. Sure, I'm behind, but I'm still fighting the good fight.
I look at it this way -- even if I don't hit 50,000 words, the fact that I have dedicated time to getting writing done is a GREAT thing. In my mind, EVERYONE who writes at least SOMETHING during NaNoWriMo ends up ahead.

I plan on getting back on track this weekend by investing a bit more time and ensuring that I can hit this forthcoming week AHEAD of the curve, rather than continuing to fall behind.

We'll see how that turns out.

Friday, November 01, 2013


It's crazy that I haven't posted to this blog since October 10th - particularly since this has ben the most wonderful time of the year. And I'm not just talking about the great Halloween season that I adore, but about the release of SPOOKY SUDBURY and all of the promo, events, book signings for the Sudbury book as well as HAUNTED HAMILTON, the release of another short story in TESSERACTS SEVENTEEN, taking place.

But, alas, work has been absolutely crazy, and taken away virtually any free second I have had.

Which is what makes November, and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) that much more important.

I have signed up and committed to writing 50,000 words this November as part of NaNoWriMo. Last time I signed up (2006), I wrote only about 40,000 words, but that work turned into the forthcoming novel A CANADIAN WEREWOLF IN NEW YORK (which I'm rolling out a draft version of on Wattpad)

This time, I'm writing a novella tentatively titled EVASION.  And, though I have some notes and an outline for the novel started, I haven't written a single word yet.  Here's my NaNoWriMo profile page.

Today is the start of that, here is my tracker (so far 0 words written).

I'm traveling today for work, but do plan on taking advantage of some layover time to get some writing done today - and for the rest of the month will have to sneak in short bursts of writing time amidst all the other things keeping me busy......

Ready, set . . . GO!!!!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

50 Shades of Hamilton

An article I wrote for Hamilton Magazine called "50 Shades of Hamilton" was just published in the magazine's fall 2013 issue.

"Hamilton is rich with history and a diverse sense of culture. It is also a city rich with ghosts. Fifty or more of them, in fact."

The article outlines the 5 different types of ghosts that haunt the Hamilton area as covered in my 2012 Dundurn book Haunted Hamilton, by breaking them down into the following categories.

  • Historical Ghosts
  • Truly Eerie & Creepy Ghostly Tales
  • Sad & Forlorn Ghosts
  • Ghosts in Public Places
  • The Practical Joker Ghosts

I originally riffed on the "Fifty Shades" idea of counting the ghosts in Hamilton, on my blog last year. I didn't realize that the editor of Hamilton magazine (Marc Skulnick) was a fan of ghost stories - but when he contacted me to see if I'd put something together for the fall issue, I pitched the concept.

The article opens with the following paragraph....

"Before you think this article has anything to do with an explicit erotic relationship between a recent college graduate and a business magnate, I should remind you that one of the definitions of "shade," according to the Oxford Canadian Dictionary, is simply a ghost."

The magazine spread is filled with beautiful historic pictures of the city as well as a collection of short tidbits from the book regarding haunted places.

No, that's not Patrick Dempsey on the cover - it's Rodrigo Venturelli

It's cool when something like that can eventually be converted into another piece of published writing.  And the extra exposure reminding people of my book doesn't hurt either.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The Day I Outsold Stephen King

Last Saturday was the official book launch weekend for Spooky Sudbury. I drove up north late on Thursday evening and spent most of the day on Friday doing a few different media appointments.

Jim, my publicist at Dundurn, had scheduled in studio appearances with Gary, Rich & Hilary In The Morning (Sudbury’s KiSS 105.3 FM) and Markus Schwabe of  CBC’s The Morning North as well as recording some videos at the haunted Bell Mansion for Eastlink News.

Jenny arrived on Saturday to join me for a launch that started at Chapters at 11 AM until 1 PM, and then at the Coles from 2 PM until 5 PM.  Jenny had to head back down south that night. On Sunday Sept 29th I did one final signing at the Sudbury Costco before heading back home to Hamilton.

Barnaby and Mark

Mark and Jenny, signing the last copy left at Chapters

We sold out at the Chapters in a little over a half hour. But we stuck around until our scheduled end time there. Chapters had copies of Haunted Hamilton (as well as copies of Campus Chills and One Hand Screaming), and the adjacent Costco had plenty of stock, so some people ran next door to grab a copy from there to get signed.

Barnaby hangs out on a bench outside the Coles New Sudbury while Jenny signs at the front of the store
Jenny's boyfriend Bruno hangin' with Barnaby
Mark, Barnaby and Lynn Murray (one of Mark's teachers from Levack Public School)
Then we moved on to the Coles, where there was enough stock to last almost two hours before selling out Barnaby sat on a bench outside the store and attracted a huge number of people. At least a dozen different groups stopped to each take their picture with Barnaby, many of whom were likely tweeting and posting them to Facebook.  I thought that was a pretty cool promotional opportunity, particularly since Barnaby was wearing a SPOOKY SUDBURY t-shirt.

On the Sunday, the signing at Costco happened.

Costco entrance sign announcing book signing

And that took me by complete surprise.

I'm a bookstore guy, so, while I had been pleased with the fact Costco was interested in having me in for a signing, I wasn't sure how successful it would be. Sure, there was lots of stock. But would the customers there be interested in an author?

The answer to that question is a resounding: YES!

First, the staff greeted me so warmly, and had everything laid out perfectly, including a sign at the front and a decorated table across from the skid of books. One of the managers said that I was only the second author ever to sign at that Costco. Canadian music icon, Anne Murray, was the only other author who has signed there. And hockey legend Bobby Orr was the only other author who was scheduled to be there later in the fall.  That was some pretty fine company for me to be in.

Author table at Costco Sudbury. (Barnaby was happy to meet up with his old Costco friends)

I was tickled when I saw that Spooky Sudbury was sitting on a skid near Stephen King's hot new book Doctor Sleep. So, I, of course, had to take a picture of it. I mean, how often would I ever be merchandised so close to a writer I have admired for decades? So close to a book that was hitting the charts at #1 in markets around the world?

I had to snap a picture of that, of course.

The signing at Costco was amazing. People continued to line up to chat with me and get a signed copy. Folks were buying multiple copies, for birthday gifts, Christmas, and other occasions. I ended up staying most of the rest of the day, and realized, towards the end, that we had pretty much decimated the pile of books.

BEFORE: A skid of hundreds of copies of Spooky Sudbury. (Doctor Sleep by Stephen King is on the left)

AFTER: The Spooky Sudbury pile cut down by half, "lapping" sales of Doctor Sleep
When I looked over at the pile of Doctor Sleep, I was surprised and quite pleased to see that Spooky Sudbury had outsold it. And, as a bookseller friend later pointed out, given that King's book is 3X the size of mine, the sheer number of unit sales to deplete the skid so far down was truly amazing. He said I didn't just outsell King, but I lapped him. (thanks for the ego-boost, Nathan!)  :)

Yes, I know, it was only in a single store in a single city in a single afternoon. But at least I can say that I outsold Stephen King.

One must, after all, look for ways to define oneself as a "big fish in a small pool" - thus, even though it was in a very limited fashion, I can boast about having two bookstores sell out of one of my books and outselling the King of horror.

Not bad, if I do say so myself. And I figure, I better say it. I just have to be careful not to break my arm while trying to pat myself on the back.