Wednesday, November 21, 2012

PWAC Toronto: Self-Publish & Market Your Book

I am quite pleased to join Harry von Bommel and Paul Lima at a Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) event tomorrow (Thurs Nov 22, 2012) night at 7:00 PM (Registration starts at 6:30)

It takes place at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (Room R318) at 750 Spadina Avenue (near Bloor) in Toronto and is entitled:

Self Publish & Market Your Book

Self-publishing – it's all the rage, and no wonder!  From establishing credibility within a business niche to becoming a breakout author, the tools are in your hands now to help you achieve your book-publishing goals.

At this panel discussion, you'll hear self-published authors tell their stories.

You’ll have an opportunity to learn about:

  •     finding the right topic for your book
  •     preparing your book for publication
  •     writing, editing and polishing, design and layout
  •     where to sell your self-published books and
  •     how to promote your books
The event is free for PWAC members and students - or $10 ($15 at the door) for associate member groups or $15 for non-members ($20 at the door)

Here are some event details, including where you can register.

I think it's going to be a really fun and lively panel discussion.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Red Banner Day

A very talented colleague recently produced this really cool animated banner which promotes my book Haunted Hamilton.

It wasn't cheap, but because he's a friend he cut me a good deal.

I think it's damn cool.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Spooky Sudbury

One of the real pleasures of having been doing promotion and book signings for Haunted Hamilton is just how interesting it is when people share their own true ghost stories.

But it is also an amazing thing to research and learn more about my own town.  Thus, since writing the book on Hamilton ghosts allowed me a chance to explore the history and richness of Hamilton (my adopted home-town), I wanted to do the same for the town where I was born and raised.

I have begun soliciting true ghost stories for a book project entitled SPOOKY SUDBURY which I am co-writing with Jenny Jelen.

So if you're from the Greater Sudbury area and have some sort of ghost story, supernatural or eerie/unexplainable true tale related to that area to share, go ahead and fill out the form.

Monday, November 12, 2012

You Spin Me Right Round Baby Right Round

In May 2012 I was invited to co-deliver a plenary session talk at The Ontario Writers' Conference (with Cynthia Good, Director of the Creative Book Publishing Program at Humber College) called Storytelling 360°: Storytelling in a Digital Age.

We had decided to split it up and have Cynthia focus on specific examples of trans-media storytelling, while I focused on looking at the history of storytelling and how the art of storytelling has evolved with technology.  I also used the concept of 360° to make meta reflections on my own mulch-faceted role as a storyteller, a bookseller and Director of Author Relations and Self-Publishing at Kobo. I outlined my own journey from using a typewriter to various electronic and digital options as a writer while quickly outlining the journey from oral storytelling, the scroll, the printing press and digital books.

It was challenging to do this talk, particularly when I wasn't yet able to talk about the forthcoming Kobo Writing Life DIY platform built to help authors get their work into Kobo's catalog.  We had scheduled the official announcement for the platform to take place in early June at Book Expo America - so while I had been extremely excited about KWL, and dying to share it with a room full of writers, I couldn't yet mention it.  Talk about a challenging test of my self-control . . .

Cynthia opened up the session with a fascinating talk.

I then did my bit . . .

And afterward the two of us participated in a quick Q & A.

It was great collaborating with Cynthia on this talk -- always a pleasure to work with her.  (In a past life, I used to pop in to talk with one of her classes about POD and the Espresso Book Machine - that was always a good time) Ontario Writers Conference was a fantastic day spent with writers, participating in workshops, listening to talks and, of course, networking with other writers. 

All of the talks and workshops were entertaining and informative. One of my favourite bits was when Douglas Gibson did a wonderful job of entertaining the crowd with his "Stories About Storytellers" segment, asking the audience to mention a Canadian writer from his latest book and then telling an interesting story about that author from his personal experience.

As recently as last weekend I had people approach me and state how much they enjoyed my talk that afternoon. That is pleasing to hear, particularly since I have agreed to teach a workshop for the 2013 Ontario Writers Conference, which will be taking place May 4, 2013 entitled BEYOND THE SLUSH PILE: The Ins and Outs of Digital Self-Publishing.  And yes, this time, I will certainly be talking about Kobo Writing Life as I outline possible strategies, step by step details and various elements of tackling the world of digital self-publishing.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lest We Forget

Today, take two minutes to remember.  It's a pittance of time.

"In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae

Friday, November 09, 2012

A Case of Piles

I never thought I'd be delighted to learn that I had a case of the piles.

No, not piles as in hemorrhoids, but piles as in stacks of my book in a warehouse.

The other night my son and I swung through the Costco in Ancaster and I couldn't stop myself from taking a picture of my book Haunted Hamilton sitting in a big giant stack.

There was my new non-fiction book sitting close to Rick Mercer, Lloyd Robertson, Red Green, and a crap-load of Chicken Soup for the Soul books.


Of course, I had initially been a bit torn over this.

You see, I'm a huge supporter of local bookstores. As a bookseller, I want people to purchase my book at their local bookstore.  In particular, the awesome Epic Books and Bryan Prince (they both have signed copies of the book, BTW).  You can, of course, also find it at local Coles, Chapters and Indigo locations in Hamilton.  The point is that I'm a huge advocate for the importance of bookstores to a local community -- they enrich the neighbourhood they belong to, they add a special and unique cultural meeting place for book lovers.

But as an author I'm thrilled to see a giant stack of my books in a warehouse, meaning a heck of a lot more eyes are going to fall on this book. Meaning, sales are likely to be pretty solid. Meaning it's likely I'll earn out my advance and this book will actually be a profitable one for Dundurn Press.  Meaning, I won't be cast off as an author that burned through their publishing dollars without a proper return on that investment.

When I had expressed this concern to friends, many of them assured me it was okay to be delighted -- that a good majority of the folks who'd buy it from Costco likely aren't the same people who would discover it in their local bookstore.  That being in the big box outlet actually opens the book up to an entirely new demographic.

So I've decided to no longer be torn, just tickled about these great piles . . .

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Fifty Shades of Hamilton

Yes, Fifty Shades of Grey has been overwhelmingly popular for several months now. Authors and publishers have been scrambling to take advantage of this huge wave of demand for, well, for literary porn and creating all kinds of interesting spins from the original books by E. L. James.  And there are more knock-offs of this popular series than you can shake a pair of sweaty handcuffs at.

So why should I not try to take advantage of the trend?

Thus, I present:  Fifty Shades of Hamilton (or 50 Shades of Hamilton if you prefer)

First, let me explain the use of the word shade and how it applies here.  One of the definitions of the word is ghost.  Thus, fifty shades = fifty ghosts.

ShadeA disembodied spirit; a ghost.  (Synonym: apparition, phantom, spirit)

So without further adieu, here are the Fifty Shades of Hamilton that appear in my book Haunted Hamilton (complete with references to the page numbers where these appear)

1) The Dark Lady of Customs House (page 25)
2) & 3) Two little boys - Customs House (page 30)
4) Young woman - Customs House (page 30)
5) Fifteen men (unidentified because they were transients) buried alive in tunnel between Customs House & railway tracks (page 30)
6) Mary Stuart McNab - Dundurn Castle (page 36)
7) Sophia McNab as the wedding guest - Dundurn Castle (page 37)
8) 11 men hung for treason - Dundurn Castle (page 38)
9) The woman with blazing red hair - Bellevue Mansion (page 44)
10) The man and little girl of the front lawn - Bellevue Mansion (page 44)
11) Ghostly soliders moving quietly through Battlefield Park - (page 51)
12) Sara Gage - Battlefield House Museum - (page 52)
13) William Black - The Hermitage Ruins - (page 61)
14) The mysterious two figures of the Hermitage Ruins - (page 62)
15) Alma Dick Lauder - The Hermitage Ruins - (page 66)
16) Strange little girl of Auchmar House - (page 73)
17) Woman in the basement of Auchmar House - (page 73)
18) John Heslop - Woodend - (page 78)
19) Spectral orbs of Burkholder Cemetery - (page 80)
20) Wife of Thomas McQueston's brother -  (page 84)
21) The man in grey - Whitehern - (page 85)
22) Jane Riley - Mount Albion Falls - (page 87)
23) The ghostly figure of 1897 - Mount Albion Falls - (page 88)
24) The banging & crashing ghosts - Dundas District School - (page 100)
25) Russell the prankster custodian - Dundas District School - (page 101)
26) Two angry spirits of the Hamilton Armoury Museum - (page 108)
27) Victor the regimental cat - Hamilton Armouries - (page 109)
28) The ghost horse - Hamilton Armouries - (page 110)
29) Ghostly barks of a drill sergeant - Hamilton Armouries - (page 110)
30) Spiked helmet ghost - Hamilton Armouries - (page 110)
31) Semi-transparent soliders on the balcony - Hamilton Armouries - (page 110)
32) Waterdown Wraith - (page 113)
33) The haunted elevator of Waterdown library - (page 116)
34) Prospero's Ghost - McMaster - (page 119)
35) Disappearing spirit of the basement - McMaster / Keg Mansion - (page 120)
36) Lillian's maid - McMaster / Keg Mansion - (page 122)
37) Phantom footsteps of children - McMaster / Keg Mansion - (page 122)
38) Shadows and voices heard in Downtown Centre basement - McMaster - (page 122)
39) Anthony B. Percy of Wallingford Hall - McMaster - (page 123)
40) Victorian "homeless" ghost of the Tivoli - Tivoli Theatre - (page 130)
41) Spirit of the 1920's Woman - Tivoli Theatre - (page 131)
42) Loren Liberman's doberman & the locked doors - Tivoli Theatre (page 132)
43) Distressed spirit of the boy near Caesar statue - Tivoli Theatre - (page 133)
44) Gus's ghost of 1920 - (page 137)
45) The Tombstone Ghost - (page 145) - read entire chapter online
46) The Westdale Ghost - (page 147)
47) Harvey the friendly ghost - Haunted Pubs - (page 153)
48) The Top-hat ghost of the Winking Judge - Haunted Pubs (page 155)
49) Another ghost of a cat - Haunted Pubs - (page155)
50) Ghost in the Green Overalls - Haunted Pubs - (page 159)

How is THAT for attempting to hitch my ride to a trend . . . ? 

In any case, if you want to learn more about these 50 shades (and a few others that didn't make it to the list -- because, hey, I had to round the number down to the correct figure, didn't I?), check out my book Haunted Hamilton:  The Ghosts of Dundurn Castle & Other Steeltown Shivers.