Friday, October 26, 2007
Thanks to the social networking group Facebook, Craig and I have gotten back into contact. And, when I was in Vancouver for a business meeting just a few days ago, I also scheduled a book signing in the evening, taking advantage of the Halloween season to try to sell a few more books. It was when I was creating the Facebook event listing for my book signing that I noticed, hey, my cousin lives in Vancouver - I should send him an invite too.
Little did I know that my cousin was a voracious reader -- that, of course, was just one of the things I found out we had in common when he met me at the book signing and we went out for beer and wings and some great conversation. While it was only a couple of hours that we spent catching up and trading tales (working in the television and film industry as well as playing bass in a band, he has some very interesting stories) I quite enjoyed myself and kept asking how it was that I never knew how cool my cousin was when I was growing up. More evidence, I suppose, of how youth is wasted on the young.
I can easily say that the highlight of my first trip to the West coast of Canada would have to be meeting up with my cousin and enjoying a couple of beers with him. And here's hoping we can do it again before another 40 years pass.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I'm not used to the higher end luxury style hotels and so was quite taken aback when they showed up at my room in the evening to turn down my bed sheets. The accommodations and services were quite top notch, and yet I was still a little perturbed that there wasn't the mini coffee machine in the room. To get your complimentary coffee, you had to head down to the lobby. Sigh. When I'm staying in a hotel by myself, I like to get up before the rooster, put on a pot of coffee and write for a few hours before I shower and get dressed. Yes, I know, all that luxury, all those services, and still I found something to complain about.
I'm pretty sure that even if the hotel offered complimentary blow jobs, I would still be complaining about the lack of a coffee machine. What can I say? I like my morning coffee.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Every time I find myself sitting at that lonely author table for a 3 hour stretch answering questions not about my book or writing but about where the bathroom is or where the customer can find a particular book (questions which I honestly do try my best to answer - you have to keep yourself amused somehow) I question my masochistic tendency to keep putting myself in that situation.
I like getting out and promoting my book. I really do. But sometimes, from an author's point of view, it's a fun exercise in social study to watch people as they walk into the store and see the author table front and centre. I do my best to smile and make eye contact with everyone who walks by; like a desperate man at a single's bar perhaps, looking for any reason to start up a conversation. But of course there are those who avoid glancing at me at all, or maybe only quickly look then look away, almost as if I was a feral dog and looking at me might provoke my wraith.
Last night was pretty decent. It's always fun when the curious people stop by and ask about my book, or when those who actually hold eye contact for more than a split second allow me to say hello which sometimes sparks a conversation. I met quite a few interesting people, however, and had some great conversations; a photographer, a librarian (just coming off a lengthy civil worker strike here in Vancouver), horror fans and, of course, budding writers. One young woman who stopped by had a very interesting list of questions for me. She was particularly interested in knowing why I wrote horror. I enjoyed her unique journalistic style.
The long stretches of solitude between fun chats with customers were made worth it for one specific encounter. A woman and her twelve year old son approached my table very cautiously, wanting to ask some advice about writing. The young man had a passion for writing poetry and didn't quite know what to do or where to start. We chatted for a short while and I offered the best advice and information I could to a beginning writer. I also tried to be as honest with him as possible about how hard it could be to have your writing rejected many many times before you find a publisher or editor who likes it; but I reminded him that you have to believe in yourself and just not give up regardless of what other people say. Ten editors might hate it, but the eleventh might love it. I quite enjoyed our chat, and the smile and hope I saw in the young man's eyes reminded me of how I felt when I was twelve years old and just wanted to be a writer and tell the world my stories. I'm looking forward to hearing from him and seeing how he's doing.
My evening of book signing was perfectly capped when my long lost cousin Craig who lives in Vancouver with his wife stopped by and we went out for wings and beer after my signing was over. Books, wings, beer, good conversation. It doesn't get any better than that.
Monday, October 22, 2007
So swing by to say hi, chat horror and a chance to collect some fun Halloween treats. I'll be offering a chance for everyone who drops by to win some Halloween goodies or a copy of the limited edition chapbook "Relic" written and signed by myself, Carol Weekes and Michael Kelly.
Speaking of winning some loot, check out the Writers Talking contest where you can win some free swag from myself, Matthew Wayne Selznick and Matt Wallace just by talking back!
Saturday, October 20, 2007
You can download and listen to this episode by clicking here: Download episode 18.
Kind of on the fly and (discussed just seconds before the recording of the show actually started), we decided it would be fun to put together a prize package for one randomly chosen winner, and it's a nice way to celebrate the season finale for this enjoyable and informative podcast.
Here's what you could win:
From Matt Wallace: Autographed copies of the anthology "Tattered Souls" and a bundle of prizes from the magazine "Murky Depths," including the limited edition promotional issue, the first issue, and a 20% off coupon for a year's subscription.
From Matthew Wayne Selznick: An autographed copy of "Brave Men Run - A Novel of the Sovereign Era," plus a "Brave Men Run" tee-shirt.
From me: An autographed copy of my book "One Hand Screaming" and the limited edition chapbook "Relic" (written with Carol Weekes and Michael Kelly) which has been autographed by all three authors.
How to enter: All you have to do is give either Matthew, Matt or myself some feedback about our writing — positive, negative, or both! It's your opportunity to talk back to the writers who've been talking!
Feedback must be submitted in one of three places:
- As a reply to the Contest topic in the writers talking forum
- As a comment on the writers talking post on Matt Wallace's blog
- Or right here at the end of this writers talking post on my blog at markleslie.blogspot.com
Comment as often as you want, but each person will have just one entry in the random selection pool. Comments that don't include feedback on the works of Matt, Matthew, or Mark will be discarded from contest entry. Comments must be posted before December 1, 2007. The winner will be selected randomly by Matthew Wayne Selznick, and his decision is final.So, without further ado, go download and listen to Episode Eighteen of writers talking. Then, if you haven't read any of my work in print, you can check out some free online samples from my book One Hand Screaming or you can check out the full length serialized novella told in blog format I, Death. Or go check out the podcasts or works of Matthew Wayne Selznick or Matt Wallace and comment away
And, you needn't say just nice things (but that, of course never hurts) -- comments eligible for the contest include the good, the bad and the ugly. So if there's something you don't like, let us have it. Don't worry, we're big boys. We can take it.
Friday, October 19, 2007
The normal retail price of this limited edition (only 500 copies are being printed) Smythe-sewn book bound in black imitation leather and stamped in gold is $80 US. Pre-orders for the book will be $50.00 until October 31st (a little Halloween treat from the publisher). Starting November 1st, pre-orders will be $60.00 Payment is accepted online via the ever convenient Pay-pal)
The book will be approximately 770 pages long and feature more than fifty writers, including:
Barry Baldwin * Glynn Barrass * Skadi meic Beorh * R. Michael Burns * Ramsey Campbell * Robert W. Chambers * Fred Chappell * Rui Cruz * JG Faherty * Gary Fry *
The cover design (see image above) is an original work by Allen Koszowski. This is a particular treat because I first became a fan of Allen's artwork back in the mid 1990's when I was getting stories, poems and reviews published in a wonderful horror magazine called Crossroads: Where Evil Dwells (edited by the wonderful Pat Neilsen) Allen's artwork often graced the cover and occasionally appeared alongside my writing. Allen's style always reminded me a bit of Steve Ditko, the artist who, along with Stan-Lee immortalized Spider-Man.
Given that I'm a giant book nerd and being able to read an entire giant anthology of stories featuring with two of my favourite things (books and horror) thrills me to no end, this week I'm counting how excited I am to know this book will soon exist as well as how very fortunate I am to simply be a part of this limited collector's edition book.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Well, the week-long (actually it's 8 days because we're not open Sunday) interactive mystery challenge begins on Monday Oct 22nd. According to the premise, I'll be found dead on the floor that morning, and customers are asked to pick up an investigator toolkit and start reading the clues posted through the store. (Full contest rules found here) - We're doling out some great prizes.
To get customers interested and exciting about the event, we taped out my body outline at the Crime Scene in the main intersection of the store.
So this week, I present I picture of myself - well, a picture of an outline of myself . . .
next week - click the link below and check it out)
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
One of the unique things about this writing podcast is that it is recorded live and includes the ability for folks to both listen in to the live recording as well as either submit instant message questions or join in verbally to ask a question.
I've been listening to this podcast since it started earlier this year and quite enjoy the "live" feel to it -- like the old days of television programming when shows were recorded live in front of a studio audience, anything can, and often will happen. When I've previously been interviewed by Paula B. at The Writing Show podcast as part of the Getting Published With Mark Leslie reality series, I know Paula has had to edit out either giant idiot gaffs that I've made, or the occasional intrusion of my three year old son bursting into the room and wanting to say hi to Paula repeatedly. This Saturday, I won't have the luxury of post-recording edits. What you get is what you get.
From what I know and have read about Parsec award winning author Matt Wallace, the dark mind behind The Failed City Monologues podcast, he's a witty dude with a penchant for dark humour. Matthew Wayne Selznick, the brilliant author of Brave Men Run is a great host and always leads the Writers Talking round-tables through interesting territory. It's going to be a lot of fun talking horror with these guys.
We also plan on giving away free copies of my book One Hand Screaming, Matthew's book Brave Men Run and Matt's novella The End of Flesh to podcast listeners during some sort of contest giveaway -- we haven't yet determined how we're going to be doing that, but are considering some sort of trivia question or questions. Hey, it's live podcast, we'll likely just make it up as we go along. Maybe we'll ask the live audience on how they think we should give out the free copies of our work.
In any case, it's sure to be a fun time. It takes place at 5:00 PM (EST) on Saturday October 20th.
Each live listener and download of the Writers Talking podcast, which is hosted on Talk Shoe, benefits 826 National which is a family of seven organizations dedicated to helping students aged six to eighteen with their expository and creative writing.
Yes, you get to listen to a free podcast and help out beginning writers. Sounds like a good deal to me and I hope to "see" you there or that you get a chance to download and listen to the episode after it's posted.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
No, he's not one of the children of the corn.
Three of my favourite things in the world - a fun maze, Fran and Alex
Photo taken by me after grabbing my son for a quick hug
Dad and Alexander cheating in the corn maze.
With the corn maze conquered for yet another year, it's time to head on back home.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Not only am I continually shocked that this incredible, wonderful and gorgeous woman somehow found me attractive and desirable enough to marry, but that she actually stuck around for all of these years despite my blatant immaturity, the fact I often squirrel myself away to work on writing projects and a myriad of other faults that she is subject to each and every day.
Yet she's still here, still loving me back. It's simply amazing.
I love looking back on the years we have spent together, on all of the things we've been through, on all of the successes and painful moments. Through it all, the many highs and lows we've always had each other. Francine has been and continues to be my rock, my centering force, my oasis, my best friend and lover. Seeing her smile and hearing her laugh are among the two greatest things in any given day.
We're the proud parents of a three year old now -- and while I sometimes miss some of the times we had when we were a couple and completely free to do what we want when we wanted without having to worry about another little person, I wouldn't change it for the world. Francine is a fantastic caring and nurturing mother to Alexander -- and parenthood has simply opened up a whole new range of exciting and sometimes scary new experiences to challenge and reward us with not to mention phenomenal opportunities for us to love and grow together.
And like the way Alexander enhances our love for each other, I also think there's something to be said of all of the supportive family and friends we're blessed with. Each of those relationships also help to enrich our life together and Francine and I are quite fortunate to have those on top of our incredible relationship.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
But don't just take my word for it, you can listen to the entire novel for free via the wonderful podcast the author did. Fallis is as brilliant a narrator for the audio version of the novel as he is a crafter of great satire.
Give it a try. I'm certain that you'll be hooked like myself and hundreds of Terry's fans from around the world.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Too bad voter turn-out has been continually declining over the years. I'm not sure if it's as much a case of civil apathy as much as it is the trend in our society to not take responsibility for one's own actions. I suppose for those who don't vote, it's easier to sit back, not bother to think about what is important to you and exercise your right to cast a ballot and then, when things don't go perfectly, blame everyone else for what's wrong.
I've seen a lot of wonderful ads aimed at helping people recognize the importance of voting using different social examples of "don't let others speak for you" -- funny that we have to use examples such as people ordering food at a restaurant or requesting a specific type of haircut to get the point across, but the ads are effective, at least to this already converted viewer.
In any case, for those about to vote, I salute you. Every single vote does count.
And in a nutshell for those who don't understand the referendum question it's simple. Do you want to keep Ontario voting the way it has always been? 1 vote for a local candidate and party. Or do you want the newly proposed Mixed Member Proportional system - 1 vote for a local candidate and 1 vote for the party of your choice.
While I'm no expert I've always wanted a better way of being able to cast my own ballot. Sometimes the party I'm leaning toward has a crappy local candidate, or sometimes the local candidate whose campaign goals and track record are admirable and would be good for us locally, but they belong to a party that, overall, doesn't have my respect. In my opinion, we'd be better off with the Mixed Member Proportional system.
But then again, that's just my opinion. And the great thing about the country we live in is that everyone has the right to express their own. So take advantage of that before the polls close. Get out there and vote.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Alexander was delighted when the driver of the back hoe asked if he wanted to sit in the cab. This thrill for my son would be on par with me as a child getting to sit beside Stan Lee while he composed a Spider-Man story.
The pictures don't properly capture the sheer excitement on my son's face. All I know is that Alex, Fran and I were beside ourselves with joy about the whole thing.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
First, we're killing me. Second, we're inviting customers to investigate my murder and figure out who did it for a chance to win some great prizes.
From October 22nd until the 30th customers are being invited to come into Titles bookstore, read the crime scene details, the suspect sheets and a series of clues regarding things overheard or seen in the store in the weeks leading up to my murder. During this time we're also going to be holding author events with the following mystery authors: Jean Rae Baxter, John Lawrence Reynolds, Linwood Barclay, John Swan and Maureen Jennings.
This week's HNT shots are a couple of the "crime scene" photos that we took on Wednesday. I have to admit it was fun how, when we were staging the photo shoot in the middle of the store in the middle of the afternoon, a crowd of people gathered around curious about why this strange man was lying on the floor with a pile of books on his head.
I'm writing the mystery, which, being a series of suspect sheets, clues and summaries, is a bit different than writing a straight linear tale. It's an interesting endeavour and a fun challenge. And while Mark Twain hit an interesting note when he had Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn attend their own funeral and listen in on the sermon, I'm experiencing something similar, I think, in writing about my own death.
why each Thursday bloggers all over the world get nekkid?
Click below to visit Osbasso and learn more)
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
I've always been fond of supporting literacy efforts. Simply put, literacy plays a critical role in both personal development and and economic opportunity. Sept 8th is International Literacy Day, April 23rd is Canada Book Day, today is Raise a Reader Day. There are more great days advocating the importance of literacy and they are all important.
Indigo Books & Music, Inc, the company that I used to work for has endeavoured to support literacy with the "Love of Reading" foundation -- the funds are used to help support school libraries across Canada. They recently released this very poignant and touching video called Writing on the Wall outlining not just the importance of libraries and reading for students, but which illustrates the blatant lack of funding provided to those libraries.
Last year I worked with the good folks at the Hamilton Literacy Council, and with the help of some very generous donors, was able to raise a bit of money for their cause by auctioning off a character role in my online serial thriller I, Death. I ended up "killing" two very generous donors in the storyline because of these efforts -- I suppose you could say that I was willing to kill for such a good cause.
But you don't need to go that far. It's really a simple investment of your time to make a difference.
If you are a parent, try to take the time today (and every day if possible) and spend just a few minutes (at least 20 minutes is ideal) reading to or reading with your children. There are no shortages of wonderful books available for so many different ages. Sure, I work in a bookstore and am exposed to tons of great new books every day, but even so I still rely on the wonderful staff at the Hamilton Library to help me in selecting books to read to my three year old. If you check out your local library you're likely not only to find a great selection of wonderful books to discover, but will also likely find library personnel who are passionate, excited and eager to assist you in your efforts.
As Rosemary Wells (author of the Max & Ruby stories among others) says: "Read to your bunny, and your bunny will read to you). Helping your children discover the love of reading will open up exciting new worlds to them. Their imaginations will prosper, they will develop a whole new confidence about themselves, about their abilities and about their future.
So, read to your children, raise a reader, support literacy wherever you can and watch the world become a better place, one word at a time.
Monday, October 01, 2007
The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure is a single-day experience that unites more than 170,000 Canadians in 53 communities across the country. Each year participants and sponsors raise millions of dollars to fund innovative and relevant breast cancer research, education, and awareness programs in communities across Canada.
To me the run represents the strength, courage and hope required by survivors to tackle the disease through the existing known treatments, but also the need for all of us to continue to endeavour to find a cure. To see so many people come together to run in honour of loved ones touched by the disease or just to run as a statement of hope is truly a moving thing (Apart from the countless runners who were there running with a specific person or persons written on their shirts, I saw several runners wearing signs on their shirts that read things like "I'm running for all women" or "I'm running for hope" -- God bless all of them.
Breast Cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian women. In 2007, over 22,300 women will be diagnosed with it -- 5,300 women will die from it. Frightening. Terrifying, actually. The good news is that incidence rates have stabilized since 1993 and mortality rates have declined steadily at a rate of 2.7% annually and the mortality rate is at its lowest since 1950. This is merely evidence that awareness (which leads to early detection) and continuing to fund research and efforts to discover better treatment methods is having a positive effect.
We got there just minutes before the race began. Francine had pre-registered and picked up her registration pack the day before. And, as it is often difficult to motivate a 3 year old to get out of the house on time, we were running a little bit late on our way there. We did get to the race on time to drop Francine off and then go find a parking spot not all that far away.
When Alexander and I got to the race area, we secured a spot on the sidewalk just a couple of yards from the finish line and planted ourselves in place -- our water, camera, snacks and smiles ready to cheer Mommy as she came in.
Despite our vigilant efforts, Francine managed to come in to the finish line without us spotting her. Of course it might have been one of the myriad of times that I was hoisting Alexander onto my shoulders so he could have a better look over the crowds of people cheering on the runners at the finish line, or when the two of us were fighting over who got to take Mommy's picture as she came running in.
Fran finished the race in approximately 30 minutes, meeting the goal she had set for herself. She's been running on Tuesday and Thursday nights as well as on Saturday mornings with a group of women for well over a year now. They often run between 5 and 7 K on most runs and occasionally will run 10 to 12 K when the weather is working in their favour. While it has been well over a year since I have been able to run 5 K (before Alexander was born Fran and I used to run together and had actually done the CIBC Run for the Cure together -- the run was the first time I'd actually gone 5 K, so that was quite an exciting feat for me, on top of knowing I was running for a good cause. I found myself way too out of shape this year to even attempt it -- shame on me.)
Alexander and I were still standing at our post at the finish line, watching hundreds of runners come in and still unable to spot Mommy, when Francine approached us from behind.
"I got in more than 15 minutes ago" Fran said to us, a smile on her face, and her face barely showing any sign of sweat or effort.
"Mommy!" Alexander exclaimed, then turned to me. "We didn't see Mommy come in to finish." he said.
"That's because Mommy was probably running so fast we weren't able to spot her," I said. It's a cute statement, but also a frightening parallel to the way that breast cancer can sneak its way into someone's life. Early detection dramatically increases ones chance of survival. Also, if you're a woman of any age, click here to learn more about how to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
After chatting about the race we spent a little time listening to the music being performed, basking in the glow of the post-race excitement, and, of course, visiting the ice cream truck so that Alexander could have his mixed chocolate vanilla cup of ice cream with the most sprinkles we've ever seen grace a cup of ice cream before.
Sounds to me like that's a 3 year old's proof that there is hope.