Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mark's Ad Hoc Self-Promo Rules

I was able to make contact with two Barnes and Noble locations in Pittsburgh yesterday. I'll be spending a week in Pittsburgh March 13 to 17 for work related training with IBM. I figured that while I was in town I'd see if I might try to set up a booksigning or two.

The Barnes and Noble in Squirrel Hill seems very receptive to hosting events and particularly to genre authors. Horror author and PA resident Michael A. Arnzen was kind enough to share with me a positive experience he had doing a signing at that particular location. But they were already tightly booked with events. The manager I spoke with did offer to order in stock of my book if I was willing to swing by the store and sign that stock for them; which I thought was a very generous offer. I'll certainly be taking advantage of that. And if there happen to be any signed copies of Michael's books in that location, I'm certainly going to be picking up some copies while I'm there.

I also spoke with the Barnes and Noble downtown, and, while we still haven't solidified anything, there's a possibility I'll be doing a lunchtime signing when I'm in town (being a downtown location, lunch time is their busiest time slot, and my hotel and training building are right downtown as well, just a few blocks away from this location).

This all just sums up one of Mark's Ad-Hoc Self Promo Rules. If you're travelling either for business or personal reasons, it's always a good idea to scout ahead and see if there might be an opportunity to connect with or make arrangements for an appearance at a local book store while you're in town.

It never hurts to try. In this case, I was delightfully surprised at how receptive the managers I spoke with were to even speaking with me, particularly with me being an unknown "foreign" author.

I think I'm going to like Pittsburgh. It's a steel town, after all, just like my good old Hamilton. I'm sure I'll feel right at home.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Something You Might Not Know About Me

I've long enjoyed Funky B's fun "Me-Me Monday" and thought that I'd slap this post up within that realm. Funky Robin likes to call it an installment of, "Come ON -- tell me the WHOLE story!" otherwise known as "I love to talk about myself", and in a pinch can be called Me-Me Monday.

The object of the game is to refer to your 101 Things About Me list, pick one of your "things" and tell the whole sordid tale. I don't yet have a full 101 Thing About Me list, but do plan on growing one. So when I play Me-Me Monday" I'll add to my list.

A new CTO joined Indigo recently (Michael Serbinis), and held a series of group gatherings within I.T. so we could get to know him and he could get to know us. Walking into the meeting room with a Tim Hortons coffee cup in hand, there was a sense that he was going to have a down to earth and straight forward approach.

After sharing some items about himself, his vision and why he joined Indigo, he then turned the meeting over to the group. But, rather than the standard, tell everyone a bit about you, he added a refreshing twist: “Tell us something that most people likely wouldn’t know about you.:

This was great, because, though I’ve worked for many years with a lot of the people in the room, there were lots of interesting bits and pieces that folks don’t often share. For example, within our group was a stand-up comedian, a ballroom dancer, a bungee-jumper, ex-tennis pro and even my boss revealed that at night he shucks his business suit, puts on his “Disco Stew” garb and is a downtown Toronto night club deejay. Wow.

Since everybody knows I’m a writer (I rarely shut up about this passion), I ended up sharing the fact that I came close to being crushed to death once because of a decision that Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip made.

Let me explain.

While a University student I was working as a security guard at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa. I got to work lots of great football games, concerts, trade shows and other events over the years. One of the best events were the Canada Day concerts.

One year (I think it must have been either 1990 or 1991), during one of the marathon Canada Day events, The Tragically Hip was one of the feature performers. I was working front of stage security and part of about half a dozen guys standing in a four foot gated section between the stage and the crowd

The main activities working front of stage at a large concert are keeping people from rushing the stage, spraying the overheated crowd with a cool water mist and rescuing people out of the crowd to receive medical attention. The constant “pressing forward” of the crowd often results in people passing out or getting squished, suffering heat exhaustion, and things like that. When we spotted someone in need of help (purple face was often an indicator of “can’t breathe”) we’d endeavor to pull them out and radio the St. John’s Ambulance staff that were usually standing by near the side of the stage area.

As often happens in a large crowd, there is a constant pressure against the metal linked security gates that are set up with a locking criss-cross pattern and butted against the stage. About half-way through the Tragically Hip’s set, the Stage Manager dropped into the pit to speak with me (I’d been designated the supervising guard for front of stage, so we’d been introduced before the show started). He pointed out the fact that the risers holding up the front of the stage (and which the security barriers were butted up against), were slipping. We ducked under the stage and he showed me. Four of the six risers were being pushed with such force from the crowd that there were already on a seventy degree angle. If we couldn’t get the crowd pushed back, the front of the stage would very likely collapse.

I had this vision of the front of the stage collapsing to form a steep ramp and the front section of the crowd spilling to the ground in the pit area simultaneously, then the band and all the speakers and equipment sliding down into the pit on top of the guards, and the crowd. I had flash backs to the stadium section collapse that had occurred just a few years earlier in this same place during my first year of University -- it was during Panda, an annual football game between Carleton and Ottawa U. I believe that one person was killed and dozens of people were injured in that collapse.

I immediately radioed for some back-up, explaining the situation to the shift supervisor. He sent six more guys from the various roam teams to help us offer more resistance against the barriers. We braced sets of three guys spread out and engaged in a “push of war” type effort that seemed it would never end.

All we succeeded in doing was keeping the barriers from being pushed as quickly. After an undeterminable amount of time, it was evident that ten guys couldn’t hold back a crowd of thousands. I remember bracing my arms full length against the barriers, my feet planted firmly against the ground, and straining under the pressure, sweat running down in my eyes, and the panic as I could feel my feet almost imperceptibly sliding, losing ground.

I radioed the shift supervisor again to tell him we were making no progress, and to send more guys if he could spare them. Also to ensure that St. John’s Ambulance sent a few more people to our vicinity. He ended up sending four more guys.

When the new guys got there, I ducked my head under the stage again to check the status. It seemed to be getting worse. The stage braces, while still standing on a funny angle, had slid back almost another inch.

I then signaled the Stage Manager and he dropped back down into the pit. I explained to him that there was no way we were going to be able to hold the gates back until the end of the concert, and asked if he could get the performers, between songs, to make a quick announcement along the lines of “take one step back” -- he begrudgingly agreed.

I then got back to helping the rest of the guys hold back the gates and crowd, occasionally bracing my back against the gates and digging in with my heels, both to give my arms a rest and also to be able to communicate via the radio with my supervisor and keep an eye on the Stage Manager.

After several songs, the Stage Manager finally got Gord Downie’s (the band’s lead singer) attention. Downie paused and headed over to the side where they briefly exchanged a few words.

I felt a huge wave of relief start to fill me, and smiled when Downie walked back to center stage and said: “I’ve been told to make an announcement.”

And this moment, I’ll never forget, because Downie paused, looked down at us in the pit and smiled. Then he said: “But I don’t see any problem, here. Let’s keeping rocking.” No, those weren’t his exact words, but his statement was to that effect. I remember the crowd going nuts in response, the band starting their next song and seeing red and glaring at him, trying to get eye contact with the man who was very likely going to be responsible for me and a lot of other people being seriously injured and possibly crushed to death.

The next half dozen songs or so that the Tragically Hip performed seemed to be the longest songs of my life. My colleagues and I continued to struggle with the pressing crowd wall, and the stage managed to not collapse.

And in answer to any questions about if I like the Tragically Hip or not -- I think that they are a brilliant rock band, have produced some magnificent and timeless hits and some of my favourite songs. As for Gord Downie: Though I think he can be a conceited and selfish jerk, he is an extremely talented musician and writer, and I’d love the opportunity to sit down and have a beer with him some day.

But not just because I admire his creativity. The main reason is because when he isn’t looking, I’d spit in his beer then enjoy a silent chuckle watching him drink it down.

Bottom’s up, Gordie, old pal.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Fun New Books

When I was at the library yesterday with Alexander on our weekly trip (we missed last weekend because I was deathly ill), I not only found him some great books for the week, but I also found myself two fun treats.

There on display near the front was Hamilton's own Jean Rae Baxter's new collection of short stories called A Twist of Malice. It was published by Hamilton's Seraphim Editions, and something I'd been looking forward to reading. I started it yesterday, am three stories into it, and am enjoying it immensely. What a great writer.

(Speaking of Seraphim Editions, I was at their summer party when they took a "Literary faces of Hamilton" picture. Pete Mitchell and I are standing on the steps just about in the center between the two pillars.)

I also picked up a Stephen King book on CD called The Man in the Black Suit. I'll likely listen to this while walking from the GO train to work or perhaps during my forthcoming trip to Pittsburgh. I'm sure I've already read the stories on the CD's, but it's always fun to listen to someone narrate a King story.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Forthcoming Works Notes

A few writing related items flew into my inbox while I was sick last week. While I was unable to keep an appointment with the publisher for North of Infinity II that had been scheduled for last Friday after work, I was able to struggle into a chair and stay seated upright for more than ten minutes at a time at least two or three times during my nasty flu; and I was able to do some small bits of writing work.

Hamilton’s Hammered Out magazine bought my poem “Electric Fire” which will be appearing in the next issue (which I believe is Hammered Out 8 - March 2006). It's been a while since I've had any poetry published, so that's a really nice thing. I'm rather fond of this little poem.

I also received some revision notes from the editor of the anthology Bluffs, Laurence Steven for my story “Being Needed” -- I’ve worked with some great editors over the years, but so far, the back and forth I’ve had with Laurence is one of the most satisfying. Laurence’s editorial vision is in line with my creative one, and the revision suggestions he made for my story serve to make it a much tighter, more solid piece. IMHO, he’s one of those dream editors a writer is very fortunate for the opportunity to work with.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

HNT - When Darth Comes Knocking

Continued from Attack of the Clones (on Bsoholic's Blog)

Fully cloned -- thanks to advice from Mister Bunny and help from Bsoholic -- and ready to stage his revenge attack against Mark, Darth Tater and his new army marched for days and days.

One of the clones started singing "The Spuds Went Marching One By One" but he was immediately dealt with as a trouble-maker, and sold off to the first Chip Truck they passed, as Darth didn't want any wise guys in his army.

When Darth and his army finally arrived at Mark's door, he made all the clones hide out of sight, and he approached the door. "Knock, Knock!" he said.

Mark came to the door, peeked out, and not being able to see who was knocking said: "Who's there?"

"Al!" Darth replied.

"Al, who?"

"Al be getting my revenge as soon as you open the door!" Darth chortled.

"What did you just say?" Mark said, startled.

"Er," Darth realized his mistake immediately. "I mean: 'Avon calling'"

"Ooooh, Avon! It must be the stuff I ordered from Dawn-Marie on the GO train. I love the Avon skin moisturizer. It makes my skin so very soft and supple."

And Mark proceeded to open the door . . .

To Be Continued

Go visit Darth Osbasso and find out more about HNT


Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I’ve been MIA since Thursday. Here’s what I’ve been up to.

Participating in non-stop coughing fits
Attempting to get my forehead so hot I could cook an egg on it
Coughing up blood
Playing games such as: can you stand up without falling over?
Projectile vomiting
Seeing how many times a day I can change my sweat-drenched pj’s
Becoming dear friends with a little guy called Imodium

While I’d been fighting off a bad cough for several weeks, it finally all caught up with me last Thursday. I started to go down hill shortly after noon, and by the time I walked from work to the GO station in the cold pouring rain, completely soaked, I knew I’d had it. I barely made it to the station and am not sure how I drove home. I fell into a feverish sleep that I barely woke up from the next day.

It was Saturday morning, when I started coughing up bits of blood that I ended up going to see the on-call doctor. She prescribed antibiotics to me for bronchitis, telling me while my lungs were clear, I was pretty close to having this turn into pneumonia if I didn’t get proper rest.

Good advice. Bad medicine. Sunday morning I woke after a sleepless night where I held back the coughing as much as possible because of the intense pain in my chest and stomach from the endless coughing fits. Not that I had much energy in my to actually cough. But I had been feeling better in the morning. By Sunday evening, however the antibiotics were having a side-effect party, and I started with violent vomiting. Then the diarrhea. No sleep on Sunday night. But plenty of encounters with Mr. toilet bowl. The poor guy didn’t know which end of me he’d be received with each recurring visit. I think I really confused him.

Monday saw a trip back to my regular doctor, who prescribed a different antibiotic, telling me he has the same reaction to that particular drug and he’d only take that one if he was on his deathbed. I said taking that drug made me feel like that’s where I was.

Tuesday I actually had enough energy to sit up for more than ten minutes without falling over. It was supposed to be a sick day from work as well. But as is typical of my workplace, I ended up being sucked into doing a full day of work. At least it was in the comfort of my own home.

Which leads me back to the fact that I ended up getting an emergency support call on Friday that I dealt with marvelously despite my high fever and inability to sit up straight without being propped up by something. And similarly, I had to answer support calls on Monday as well.

It makes me wonder if I’m so damn important to the company that they couldn’t possibly live with me being off sick for a couple of days why they couldn’t consider paying me more. Oh, I know, because on my PA, my boss will bring up the fact that I had the gall to actually call in sick, but never remember or note the fact that I’ve yet to take a SINGLE sick day without getting a call at home for some emergency that I have to fix.

It all makes sense now. At least in the remnants of my feverish haze.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

HNT - Cereal Killer

It's been a crazy week both at work and personal life and I've been unable to dedicate the proper time to continuing the ongoing Darth Tater saga (but that's also because Bsoholic and I have lots and lots of work to to for the grand finale segment....stay tuned)

I thus present an old photo from my archives that I called "Cereal Killer" (I think I was 20 when this photo was taken - wow, I was thin and had hair - brings back memories. Mostly of being thin and having hair)

Happy HNT.

The Darth Tater saga will return next week . . .

HNT is a celebration of exposure in many shapes and forms.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Emergency Room

Last night, Francine and I were planning on ordering a pizza and enjoying a couple of beers after putting Alexander to bed. Still recovering from the big surprise birthday party I’d had for Fran on Sunday, we were both looking forward to a nice quiet evening.

In the midst of preparing for his bath time, Alexander was running in the kitchen when he tripped and his head came down directly on the corner edge of the bottom of Mister Bunny’s cage.

I saw the whole thing happen in slow motion, and even though I was several feet away, as his head rocked back from the impact, I saw the large indent in his forehead less than half an inch above and centered between his eyes. In that moment, the indent looked to me like a thumb impression that had been pressed into a ball of silly putty.

So, after a five hour wait at the ER, and two stitches later, we were finally able to bring him home and get him settled for bed. Sans bath, of course.

I think the thing that I found most disturbing was when we were waiting in the ER (we’d been there for over an hour and still hadn’t even gotten Alexander through triage -- that little miracle took almost two hours -- it was another hour at least before he was actually assessed, and from there, half an hour before a doctor actually looked at him, and another hour before he actually got his stitches), he rubbed his eyes and ended up opening the wound again.

Head wounds are very generous when it comes to dispensing blood. So there were are sitting in the ER waiting room, trying desperately to stop a steady flow of blood that, at the time, seemed to be coming in waves like the bleeding walls from The Amityville Horror, calm an overtired, crying baby (ironically, he seemed more upset that we were holding him, because he wanted to run around than over the deep gash on his forehead), and we might as well have been alone in our own kitchen for all the help we received.

I know I’m an over-reacting parent, but you’d think that a baby with a non-stop bleeding head wound would generate at least a bit of priority over the constipated lady beside us, the guy with the hang-nail who was moaning and begging for Demerol, or the guy across from us with a cough that wasn't half as nasty as the one I’ve had for several days now.

I’d like to blame the health-care system for this. Sure, we have pretty decent health-care here in Canada. But part of me wonders at whether or not the abuse by the common person of that free health-care might not be a large contributing factor to making it worse. I mean, remove every single person who was there presenting something that could be treated by the average GP or walk-in clinic, or maybe even a call to the Tele-Health Ontario 1-800 number and I think the total wait might only have been half an hour or maybe even an hour tops.

It makes me think that if a person actually had to pay for the service, would they be there at all? I’ve always been an avid supporter of free and non-tiered health care. But last night the concept of some basic level of user-fees (which would have kept plenty of people clear of the ER last night) wasn’t all that bad an idea. The trick, of course, would be applying the user-fees to any cases in which one of several other of our free health-care options for non-emergency services would have been satisfactory.

But the difficult part is judging what’s a non-emergency and what constitutes satisfactory. I’m an over-reacting parent. I’ll admit it. If there was a guy sitting there with a severed arm in his lap, if I could have gotten away with it I’m sure I would have beat him over the head with his appendage for the opportunity of taking his number from him so Alexander could get into triage before him.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Taking Back Valentine's Day

I've read a lot of posts around the blogosphere lately from people who are not looking forward to Valentine's Day, (including, my fictitious friend, Peter O'Mallick). It's one of those commercially driven days that either suck money out of someone's wallet or it becomes an "in your face" day for those who are single or recently lost love.

Although I am blessed with the love of an incredible woman (still can't figure out how I lucked into that) I spent the majority of my pre-Francine Valentine's Days alone or trying desperately to woo the heart of someone special (efforts always spent in vain).

For that reason, I'm suggesting that we all take back Valentine's Day. Sure, let it be a day for lovers, and let them rejoice in it. But let's also let Valentine's Day be a day to tell someone in your life that they're important to you. Maybe it's a parent, maybe a spouse or partner, maybe a good friend that you see often or perhaps one you haven't spoken to in ages; maybe it's someone at work whom you enjoy working with, maybe it's the bus driver who safely gets you to work every day. It doesn't matter. Take back Valentine's Day by spreading a little love. Pause, take the time, and tell someone that they're important to you.

You'll likely make someone's day, and I'm pretty sure it'll feel good to do.

By the way, I'll start now. YOU, yes YOU, the person reading this. You have no idea how much I appreciate you, despite the fact that I might not even know who you are. Whether or not you leave a comment, that's fine with me. The fact that you clicked over here, dropped in to visit and are reading my words, THAT is something I'm thankful for, and that makes you very important to me. You validate the fact that I perceive myself as a writer by reading my words. I can't express enough what your presense here means. Thank you!

So to YOU, I send lots of love and a big giant hug (because I'm a hugging kind of guy).

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Soothing Thoughts

Pacifier - soother - pip - nummy - bica - buddy - over the years I’ve heard them called by many names, but “soother” makes the most sense to me because that’s what it seems to do.

Alexander is rather attached to his “soother” -- no surprise there. When I was a young child I was rather attached to mine. (Although in my case, it was called a pip) My Mom has told me stories of having a soother in my mouth and one in each hand, and sometimes that was the only way I would fall asleep. I likely would still be walking around with one in my mouth today if my Mom didn’t have the genius idea to claim that when crossing the street one day (at about five years of age) I dropped them and the birds took off with them.

Yeah, I know, I should hate birds the way my buddy Pete does from that experience. Or fear them.

But for some reason, that was quite enough to break me of my habit.

So until the birds, or some imaginary Alphagetti Gobbler-like monster I invent ends up absconding with Alexander’s soothers, they’re an important part of his relaxation and comfort.

But in the meantime, it amazes me to see how he’s very willing to share the thing that comforts him most. The other morning when we were all slowly waking up (we’d moved him into our bed in the middle of the night when he was crying -- his eye teeth are coming in and he’s still getting over a bit of a cold), Alexander offered each of us a suck on his soother. I guess he wanted to make sure we were both comfortable.

Then last night, after a long and busy day (Francine’s surprise 40th birthday party -- went off quite nicely, BTW), as I was putting him down to sleep and after we went through the exercise where I had to repeatedly kiss and hug his pal Winnie, he tried giving Winnie his soother. Seems he's very concerned that his little buddy is loved cozy and comfortable, too.

I find those raw displays of love and selflessness very soothing indeed.

Friday, February 10, 2006

One Good Turn Signal Deserves Another

After reading one of Lara’s classic rants (Rules of My Road), I was reminded of something that burns my ass.

No, I’m not talking about 3 foot high flames (although they are quite capable of burning my ass quite thoroughly) -- I’m talking about the whole turn signal thing.

Why the hell can’t some people get it into their stupid thick skulls that the turn signal was put on vehicles not as a luxury item, nor as a modern-art type decoration, but as a necessary tool of communicating to other drivers and pedestrians?

To me it comes down to a combination of lazy and selfish -- two things which I believe are two of the worst ailments of our current society that, if fixed, could solve all kinds of issues. Lazy, because how hard is it to move your hand six inches to trigger a signal and selfish because of the self-important assumption that you own the road and that nobody else deserves even the smallest courtesy.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

HNT - Episode 3A - Return of the Spud-Eye

Continued From The Carb-Eater Strikes Back

While Mark was off training how to use his newly acquired weapons, Darth was having trouble sleeping. Every time he settled down to sleep, he kept being woken by the terrible dreams of Mark unmasking him.

Finally he resolved that he wouldn’t be able to rest until he sought his revenge against Mark. And so he headed off to the kitchen to seek the advice of the wise old Mister Bunny.

Mister Bunny, you see, doesn’t choose sides. He’s a neutral player in the battle between . . . goofy and stupid (there is no “good and evil” here, just goofy and stupid), and thus offers advice to all those who seek his counsel.

“What can I do to beat him?” Darth asked Mister Bunny.

“Bigger than you and stronger than you, he is,” Mister Bunny said. “But as a Wilde man once said, nothing exceeds like excess. Clone yourself, you must. And your sheer number will be able to take him down.”

“But how?” Darth asked.

“The creater of Tag will know. He is known in these parts as Bsoholic” Mister Bunny said. “He has worked magic with Photoshop. Magic for you he can work.” And with that, Mister Bunny pointed to a hotlink off in the distance.

Don't miss the exciting continuation of this story (Episode 3B) THIS WEEK on Bsoholic's Blog . . .

Go see Os to find out about what HNT is all about

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Celebrating Fran

My honeybunny turns 40 years old today. Of course, most people who know us think that she must be in her early 30's and that I'm this craddle-robbing guy pushing 50. While I've never been bothered that I look much older than I am, I'm delighted that people constantly mistake Francine for a younger woman -- I'm pretty sure she enjoys that too. I'm not sure why because Francine, like her mother, ages so gracefully. Francine gets more and more beautiful and vibrant each year.

I'm planning something really fun for Francine's birthday, but won't mention it here on the off chance that she's reading this blog today. (She finds out what her surprise is going to be tonight -- well, part of the surprise, at least) Of course, it's likely she won't be reading this today because Fran spends so much of her time looking after our 19 month old son, looking after me, looking after Mister Bunny, taking care our finances, the house, every single detailed aspect and chore, that she often doesn't have time for simple luxuries.

Fran is that type of selfless, caring and giving person. And each and every day I'm truly thankful for the blessing I've been given to have this very special, wonderful and beautiful woman in my life. Although busy at work so much lately, I am fortunate that I get to start and end each day with this remarkable and loving woman.

Happy 40th Birthday Francine! I love you!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut

Sometimes you feel like a nut
Sometimes you don't
Almond Joy has nuts
Mounds don't

I remember back when the commercial using this jingle was on television, we didn't have those two chocolate bars (or candy bars for my U.S. friends) available in Canada, or at least in my little backwater Northern Ontario home town.

That used to frustrate me -- seeing commercials for things I couldn't get to. One of the most frustrating was this really cool Toys R Us superstore I kept seeing on American television commercials, but there wasn't one yet located anywhere near my hometown. Man that looked so cool.

Oh well, at least now I can take my son to Toys R Us while drinking my Tim Hortons coffee and snacking on a Coffee Crisp or eating my Smarties (and while there are some Tim Hortons locations popping up in the U.S. you still can't get those candy bars in the States, right? When I say I eat the reds one last it means nothing to anyone south of the 49th parallel, right?)

Monday, February 06, 2006

First Stop on Blook Tour

Well, the first stop on the blook tour happened on Brad Feld's website. He interviewed me about "I, Death" -- the interview can be read by clicking here.

I've added Brad's blog link on the right nav. Man, I thought I was verbose - Brad posts multiple entries each day. Hard to keep up.

It's funny how the right nav has grown. I keep adding blogs and sites that I enjoy reading and returning to, but I'm finding that, because there are so darn many interesting things out there that people are posting, I'm having trouble keeping up and getting back to so many of them on a regular basis.

It makes me think that I should stop keeping so many different books on the go at the same time and instead dedicate a bit more time to blog reading.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Day The Music Died

Today in music history is the day that inspired Don McLean to write the song “American Pie” - Richie Valens, Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper (J. P. Richardson) died when their plane crashed in Iowa.

Given that the lyrics of the McLean song are rolling through my mind, I thought today would be the perfect day for a bit of reader participation with “I, remember” (a concept my buddy Pete Mitchell played a few months ago, and I recently saw again over at Marie’s)

The goal is simple. In the comments to this post, you’re supposed to share a “memory” of you and I that never actually happened. It can be a quick single statement or an epic adventure. Go wild, knock yourself out, have a good time with it (I’m not easily offended). If you don’t know me, please don’t let that stop you. It’s all for fun and besides, I find it fascinating to reminisce with strangers.

You’re typically supposed to start with something like “I remember…” but given the significance of this date in music history and Don McLean’s song, you’re welcome to open with “A long, long time ago, I can still remember . . .

So go ahead, remember, and make those people dance, or FOTFL, or shed a tear or sick to their stomachs, whatever works for you.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

HNT - Special Guest SGK

For those of you eager to see the next Chapter in the "Spud Wars" Darth Tater saga, do not despair. Darth will be returning next week (I have something a lot more meaningful to share this week, and besides, a little suspense is healthy)

This week, I'd like to take the time to introduce a good friend of mine named Stephen King.

No, no, not that writer guy. No, wait, Stephen is a writer. But he uses his full name (Stephen Graham King) to write, because, as you guessed it, this is a joke he's heard thousands upon thousands of times. So what is it with people with that particular name and a huge talent for the written word? I'm not sure, I'm just extremely thankful for it.

For those of you just here for the HNT picture, here it is on the right -- it's from a series of author photos taken by a Saskatoon area pro photographer (Debra Marshall) as possible author shots for Stephen's new book Just Breathe. This is one of my favourites. And it's half of a full naked shot, so nicely qualifies as half-nekkid. More shots, many of them also of the traditional Half-Nekkid variety, can be viewed here.

For those of you interested in learning a bit more about this brilliant and talented writer and dear friend of mine, please do read on.

Several years ago, Stephen, a colleague at work, approached me and asked if I'd be willing to read his biographical account of a prolonged battle with a rare, aggressive cancer known as synovial sarcoma. I didn't know Stephen all that well at the time, just that he was a pretty decent guy and we shared a somewhat twisted sense of humour and a love of writing. So I hesitantly agreed I'd give it a read and offer comments.

I was completely blown away and swept into his world. Stephen's writing is powerful and stunning and brings the reader right into the heart of the issues surrounding cancer patients and cancer survivors. It's a heart-felt, gut wrenching, yet beautiful account of the struggles and triumphs of a gay man forced not only to fight the cancer consuming his body, but also to confront a series of body-image feelings and emotions in our hugely image-conscious society. I admit to both laughing and crying as I read the manuscript. I made pages of editorial notes and quickly joined in Stephen's dream to see this book published.

And that time is now here.

Here's an advance praise editorial blurb that I offered for Stephen's book:

"Stephen Graham King writes in a way that transcends the traditional reader-writer relationship. You don't read this book so much as you stand beside the author, his arm around your shoulder, as he lets you in on the intimate thoughts, feelings and emotions he experienced through his trials. His words are honest, touching, poignant and heartfelt; they come alive like a dear friend sharing his story across a coffee shop table"

Stephen also received some other wonderful advance praise blurbs from Robert J. Sawyer, Nalo Hopkinson, Suzanne North and Indigo's CEO and chief book lover, Heather Reisman.

Stephen is a beautiful man, a dear friend, and a writer whose brilliance and unabashed style shines gloriously in this, his first book.

I sincerely encourage anyone who has ever been touched by cancer to check it out. It's available in print format in Canada and the U.S.A. as well as in e-book format. You can also easily browse the content of the book online.

And, I will, of course, gladly accept e-hugs to pass along to Stephen.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Going On A Blook Tour

Not, it's not a typo. I'm going on a blook tour.

A blook is a book on a blog platform. I kind of have two might fit within its losely defined realms. I've posted samples and full excerpts of my book One Hand Screaming on a blog, and I'm also unrolling my serial thriller I, Death (a previously unpublished novella) on a blog.

It's a Tom Evslin concept, part of promoting hackoff.com, his serialized murder mystery set in the "internet bubble and rubble." I, along with several other blooking, blookish (hmm, not sure exactly how best to use this word in different contexts, but I'll learn) authors -- currently I believe there are 9 of us, and the concept involves a publicity tour on several different sites.

I'm looking forward to the tour, but I never know exactly what to pack for these things. (Other than my favourite skull tie and Yorrick, of course).

Speaking of tours, I'm going to be in Pittsburgh, PA for some technical training with IBM the week of March 13th, and was hoping to connect with a bookstore there to perhaps arrange a signing or reading in the early evening. So if anyone out there in blogoshere land from that area knows any speculative genre-friendly stores they can recommend I contact, people let me know.