Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Forgotten And Lost

I was reading this frustrating report on Melville House this morning, entitled "Absolutely nothing will enter the public domain in 2013"

What could have entered the public domain in 2013 - screen shot from Center for the Study of Public Domain

The reason it is frustrating is due to the revisions made to US copyright law that pushes certain works from coming into the public domain today until 2052.


When it is public domain it allows people the ability to those books into other languages, create Braille or audio versions for visually impaired readers, create interesting new enhanced versions of the books, or adapt them for film.

The article quotes an interesting note from the Center for the Study of Public Domain:

“Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the current copyright term is that in most cases, the cultural harm is not offset by any benefit to an author or rights holder. Unlike the famous works highlighted here, the vast majority of works from 1956 do not retain commercial value. This means that no one is benefiting from continued copyright, while the works remain both commercially unavailable and culturally off limits. The public loses the possibility of meaningful access for no good reason.”

The cultural ham is not offset by any benefit to an author or rights holder.

Then why.  Why?  Why?

Sigh. Oh wait, I already said that.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Trouble With Handheld Devices

Our eight year old son has a plethora of hand-held devices, and he pulls them out at almost every opportunity.

And it seems like, more and more, Francine and I are frustrated with how consumed he can become in these little things which you can take virtually anywhere; we are constantly competing with a portable little device for his attention.

He is continually distracted by these things.

At the breakfast table. Sitting on the couch. In the back seat of the car.

Instead of going to bed on time, he sits there with his head stuck pointed down, drawn in and blocking out virtually everything happening around him.

It's getting worse, too.

Last night I called to him in a loud voice from just four feet away, no less than three times before I finally got his attention.

He looked up at me and said, "Please, let me read just one more page, Dad."

I suppose I should have expected this. He gets this sickness from both of his parents.

Damn books.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Meta Spam

I have to laugh.

Last year I posted a cheeky tale called "Fun with Telemarketers" outlining an ongoing frustration about telemarketers - specifically ones that are calling about duct cleaning.

It documented the call I received. You know the ones that start out like this:

TELEMARKETER: Hello, may I speak with Mr. Lefjlkaliufdkjlalkflj [indeterminable gibberish as he tries, desperately, to pronounce my last name. The poor guy. There should be a sympathy greeting card for having to go through all that in front of a complete stranger]

In any case, my post was about making the best out of a frustrating situation, and the fun I ended up having with the guy.

This morning I woke up to find a spam comment posted here with a link to a service -- you know the one I'm talking about: it's a vague commentary about enjoying the "article" and then a link to a service.

The service was, of course, for duct cleaning.  So at least they did their "strategic spam" homework - I'll give them that.

But like I said, you have to laugh.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

It's Fun To Talk To The WCYR

Young man, there's no need to feel down!
I said - young man, pick yourself off the ground
I said - young man, 'cause you're in a new town
There's no need to be unhappy . . . 

Yeah, I know, the title of this blog post doesn't roll off the tongue the way that Y.M.C.A. by The Village People does, but it just came to me in the way that unexpected lyrical earworms hit you.

I've been putting together the content for what I'll be talking to the good folks at the WCYR (Writers Community of York Region) about this coming Sunday, Jan 13th, and I realized just how much of a pleasure it is when my life-long passion (writing) collides so beautifully with the job that keeps a roof over my head and food on the table.

I was asked to come chat with the group after one of them had seen me speak last May at the Ontario Writer's Conference alongside Cynthia Good regarding storytelling in a digital age. (Here's a video of my talk)

OWC May 2012 - Talking on "Storytelling 360°: Storytelling in a Digital Age"
It was a really fun talk, because I was there as an author, but I was also there as a representative from Kobo -- and I, of course, couldn't help wearing my role as a bookseller.

In any case, here's an overview of the talk I'll be giving this Sunday.

Writers have never had more opportunities in front of them. This is at once exciting and overwhelming. What path to take? What roads to travel down? How does a writer make sense of the different options and opportunities available to them in both print and digital?

Navigating the multidimensional aspects of being a writer today takes an understanding of the industry from top to bottom and the ability to cut through a lot of noise. From SASE to ePub, from physical author events to the virtual aspect of social marketing, from the basics of the business of writing to not being drowned in the slush pile which has migrated from the a publisher’s back room to an online catalog near you, journey through one writer’s experiences operating in virtually every aspect of this dynamic and ever-changing industry.

Yes, I'm there as a writer, and to talk about my own experiences in traditional publishing and self-publishing (and perhaps even sell some copies of my books via the awesome Blue Heron Books who will be on site not only with some of my books, but some great books on writing) - but I will also be putting my Kobo's Director of Self-Publishing & Author Relations hat on, to share tips and insights for authors who are beginning to become involved in various self-publishing pursuits.

I will, naturally, demonstrate a positive bias towards Kobo and the awesome Kobo Writing Life platform for self-published authors and small publishers (With a darned cool blog filled with author profiles, articles and tips on the craft and business of writing), but I'm also going to be open and clear on the importance for authors of being available on any platform.

In any case, this Sunday will be yet another one of those days in which I'm working, yet I'm not working, in which I'm required to be there, and yet delighted and eager to be there.

Seth Godin, in his wonderful wisdom had written: "Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don't need to escape from."  

I always smile when I read or hear those words, because while I do enjoying relaxing and "vacationing" I very rarely feel the need to "escape" from this incredible life I have. On the contrary, I enjoy embracing it and I consider myself very fortunate that I can work in a role that I am passionate about and believe in . . .

. . . and when it becomes difficult to determine when I am working and when I am just living the life I want, it feels like a really, really good thing.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Writing Resolution 2012 Recap

Each year for the past several years I have tried to lay down some basic goals for the forthcoming year.

Here's a look at how I did compared with the goals I "publicly" decried on this blog on Jan 3, 2012.

The goals are listed first, along with commentary on how I did


1) Complete the Tesseracts Anthology. (IE, read submissions, select stories, get book to publisher) - okay, I'm already feeling overwhelmed.

Well that was an easy one. I completed the work on the anthology - and it was INDEED hard. What made it the most hard was that there so many fantastic submissions and I had to spend time agonizing over which great stories to cut. The resulting anthology, Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound came out in Sept 2012 and is something I am indeed very proud of. I'd call this goal successfully achieved.

2) Get the latest re-write of I, DEATH over to Atomic Fez.

I not only completed this, but the novel came back from my publisher/editor and I completed another go at it following the advise of his very wise red pen - and I completed both of those within the realm of 2012.  (I just made it, as I had finished the last part with just days to spare)

3) Post live updates for the first 1/3 of the re-written I, DEATH to a blog so that people can begin following along the tale of Peter O'Mallick. (Started that yesterday by creating an I, DEATH blog - the story begins on Jan 18th - and yes, without spending a single penny you can read the complete first 1/3 of the novel, which, in and of itself, tells a complete story.

I had done this, but only now realized that something went wrong with the scheduling for the last 20 to 30 entries. Sigh. Completely missed that until now, so will have to go fix that.  Let's call this a fail, since 80% of it is there, but the remaining 20% never went live when they were supposed to.  Sigh. [Must make a note to myself to go and fix this]

4)  Release a new digital collection of previously published (but not previously collected) short stories.

I did this with the release of BUMPS IN THE NIGHT, although it's a bit shorter (the collection contains 4 stories) and I really would like to release a full book's worth of stories.  Good goal for 2013, n'est pas?

5) Release an enhanced text plus audio version of ONE HAND SCREAMING.

Fail. Never even got started on this. I looked at trying to re-purpose the recorded audio from my Prelude to a Scream podcast, figured it'd be easier to just re-record, and determined the time required might not be worth it.  In 2014, One Hand Screaming will be celebrating its 10th anniversary, so perhaps THAT would be a good year for planning that.....hmmmm

6) Pitch a second book to Dundurn as a follow-up to HAUNTED HAMILTON.

Did this - pitched SPOOKY SUDBURY and was sent the contract for it just prior to the year finishing. Have to complete SPOOKY SUDBURY early in 2013 and get it to Dundurn by the end of March.

7) Promote the hell out of the fact I have 3 books coming out in 2012.

I, DEATH didn't come out - publication has been delayed, but I did indeed promote the hell out of HAUNTED HAMILTON and TESSERACTS SIXTEEN. So I'll say I did this - big time.

8) Do a big book launch for HAUNTED HAMILTON in Hamilton and work the "local book" angle in all forms of media.

Done - Over 100 people attended the book launch for HAUNTED HAMILTON at the central branch of the Hamilton Public Library. Also made it into The Hamilton Spectator with a wonderful article as well as onto CHCH Morning Live and an appearance on SPACE. I'd call this a BIG time success.

I also learned that publishing a non-fiction brought with it an interesting sort of prestige that I had never been privy to before. Wow. Imagine that - from writing a book of ghost stories. Whoda thunk? Have to admit I kind of like that.

9) Do combined promotions for HAUNTED HAMILTON, I, DEATH & TESSERACTS 16. (There's pretty much something for everybody - non-fiction, a novel, short stories)

Let's be honest, here, this was really me either padding my goals and repeating, or making sure I didn't neglect the importance of doing promotion for my books. See point 7, and point 8, oh, and point 10.

10) A little more promotion (just when I thought I wanted to rest)

Let's be honest, I was a self-promotion slut in 2012. I even mocked my own book, joking about re-branding "Haunted Hamilton" as "Fifty Shades of Hamilton" (shade being another term for ghost) Would you really expect anything less?

And now that I've outlined what my goals for 2012 were it's time to look at what I have planned in the year that now is . . .


1) Complete SPOOKY SUDBURY and get it to Dundurn by the end of March

2) Pitch a third "Ghost Story" book to Dundurn by the end of February - Have had the idea for over a year now, I just have to start and work on the 3rd book in 2013 if I want to stay on track with this series

3) Publish a full book length short story collection in print (POD) and digital (eBook) format

4) Release a digital short tie-in to the I, DEATH universe for launch at Eerie-Con

5) Release a digital short Michael Andrews/Canadian Werewolf in New York as a precursor for the novel A CANADIAN WEREWOLF IN NEW YORK

STRETCH GOALS (since the 5 above don't seem progressive enough, we'll see what else can be squeezed in....)

6) Release A CANADIAN WEREWOLF IN NEW YORK in eBook just prior to the close of the year

7) Pitch a collection of YA Short Stories to a publisher. IDEAL pitch sees publisher do print with me doing digital

8) Sell at least 2 short stories to magazines/anthologies 

9) Sell 1 non-fiction article

10) Either pitch a themed anthology to a publisher and/or raise funds for creation of an anthology (similar to Campus Chills) that can pay authors pro rates for their stories in said anthology.

There. That should be hard enough. Wish me luck.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Top Ten Books Read in 2012

I'm still a slow reader, though I am getting a bit quicker and reading more books each year; but every if I quadrupled my reading rate I'd still never get caught up on the exponentially growing "to read" pile of books before me.

Curse of the book nerd, I suppose.

In any case, I've taken to writing down quick notes about books after I finish them and then, at the end of the year, trying to determine which of those reads were my favourites.

So for this particular blog post, I have a few rules that I try to stick with:

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.

b) This is a list of books I READ in 2012 - so this isn’t one of those “Best of 2012” lists - it’s a personal list of best books that I read in that calendar year.

c) I don’t count the tons of children’s picture books that I still read to my son. Not because I don’t think of them as books - they are wonderful books - but we go through them so quickly 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)

So, what follows is a list of the top ten favourite books read in 2012 -- but before I begin, a few interesting summary stats.

  • I set a goal of wanting to read 52 books this year
I actually read 56.  Sort of.  Here is where I am torn. Five of the books read were graphic novels. So I was either short of my goal by 1 book, or I exceeded my goal by 4 books.  In any case, I think setting a goal of reading 52 books in a year (a book a week) is an admirable one, particularly for someone like me who is a SLOW reader. And I have set the same goal for 2013. Hopefully I'll make it this year (or surpass it again, depending on the POV assumed)

Here is a breakdown of the formats of books that I read:

  • AUDIO BOOKS: 26 (Approx 46%)
The commute in to work from Hamilton to Toronto has afforded me the ability to fill that time spent in the car with useful listening to books rather than just killing that time.  (I used to listen to audio books while running, but my love of the awesome Zombies, Run! app, which is an interactive "game" for runners replaced that)
  • EBOOKS: 24 (Approx 43%)
 Yes, I read most of these books on the following devices:  Kobo Touch, Kobo Glo, Kobo Vox, Kobo ARC (check out the Kobo family of devices here), as well as various reading apps (mostly Kobo, but also Kindle and iBooks) on my iPad and iPhone  (Gee, one might wonder if I perhaps have a vested interest in Kobo)
  • PRINT BOOKS:  6 (Approx 11%)
Let me quantify this one. I believe I purchased at least 50 print books in 2013 (not counting gifts for others).  Many of them got added to a "to read" pile or were books I had already read or listened to or were bought and placed onto a shelf while I read the eBook version (very handy while traveling) -- yeah I know, I have a sickness . . .

  • NON-FICTION: 16 (Approx 29%)
I did read quite a number of writing and self-publishing books this past year as well as a few other non-fiction titles in an attempt to expand my horizons as a reader and read outside my normal comfort zone (I have long been a fiction junky, so reading non-fiction is a nice "stretch" for me)

A few other interesting Facts:
  • Number of books from this list I purchased in print after reading the eBook: 5
  • Number of books from this list I purchased after listening to the audiobook version:  1

My Top 10 Books Read in 2012

11/22/63 - Stephen King

To me, the true beauty of this novel is not about the whole JFK thing, but rather about the relationship between Jake and Sadie - it’s a fantastic and beautiful love story.  I also enjoyed the "fresh meat from 1950" used by the time traveling diner owner (explaining the more "pure" taste to his meat and the incredibly low price he is able to purchase and sell the burgers for).  There's also a cute scene featuring Ritchie and Bev from Stephen King's IT that I wanted to last much longer. It was like seeing old friends I hadn't seen in a while.

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Yes, I waited several years after hearing booksellers and readers rave about this series - I finally consumed the entire trilogy (my desire was to get to the books BEFORE the movie came out - I at least read the first novel before seeing the movie - and then made my way through the rest). I kicked myself for waiting to long to read this book and the ones that followed.

Steve Jobs - Walter Isaacson
One of the things I loved about this book is the attempt by Isaacson to paint an accurate picture - it didn’t try to canonize Jobs, but, rather, paint him accurately from all sides, showing he could be an insensitive asshole, but also how brilliant and effective his pursuit of excellence was. I listened to the audio book version which was performed by Dylon Baker and have to say he is an exceptional narrator who does the book justice.

Enter Night - Micheal Rowe
I loved this book - it was like Salem’s Lot, but set in Northern Ontario -- and it made me feel the same way I felt when reading King's classic vampire tale. I love the fact that Rowe's vampires are scary - and I adore the manner by which the humans struggle against their vampire impulse (and in particular the way the dog does that to save the boy’s life - one of the most riveting and emotional scenes in a novel that I have encountered in years)

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void - Mary Roach
Mary has a phenomenal sense of humour, doled out very playfully while teaching the reader new facts and details.  I have to say that the chapter on sanitation in space consistently cracked me up. I suppose it goes to show you just how moved I can be with simply potty humour.

Horns - Joe Hill
This was another one of those books that I bought in hardcover when it first came out and it sat around unread. I love Hill's writing, so kept wondering why it took me so long to get to this. One of the most interesting things about this is the main character, Iggy, is a complete jerk, and yet Hill painted him in a way that kept me want to keep reading, despite the despicable things he does.

Dead Air - Scott Overton
Having published Overton's short fiction, I was asked if I would read the ARC and consider blurbing it.  I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into this first novel by a very talented writer. Needless to say, I was not disappointed and adored this thriller.  Here is the blurb I ended up giving the book:  "Scott Overton is a storyteller of boundless skill. Dead Air first intrigues readers by drawing them into a side of radio broadcasting most people have never seen, which is interesting enough, but then begins to craftily unravel an intriguing and suspenseful set of circumstances, further drawing readers in and holding them, breathless, to the last page. Overton is a writer to watch."


Clockwork Angels - Kevin J. Anderson
I've been a Rush fan for years, and this tie-in novel written by Kevin J. Anderson (who collaborated with lyricist Neil Peart on the story) was the perfect thing for bringing the story and music to a whole new level.  I had an ARC of this book which I had read before the release, and spent 40 minutes online trying to drop hundreds of dollars on the limited Gold edition. I never made it that far, but DID succeed in getting the Silver boxed edition of it.  As a stand-alone fantasy/steam-punk novel this book stands alone as an excellent example of Anderson's fine storytelling skills. But it also represents multiple complex layers with which which a Rush fan can enjoy the novel. The novel and album are best enjoyed as a wonderful and complex mosaic. For me, listening to the album again from beginning to end in a single sitting after finishing the novel was an almost magic experience, and it continues to be so every time I hear the album.

Up and Down - Terry Fallis
Like in his first two novels (although this is a stand-alone book about a PR agent who takes on the task of trying to re-vitalize the public's interest in the space program), Fallis employs the use of a character seemingly out of their element to great humour and to also tug on the heartstrings. He delivers a rollicking fun ride with wonderfully dealt humour and a compelling storyline. Fallis hit another home run with this wonderful blend of satire and poignancy. I suppose, though, since it is about the space program, I should say something like: "Fallis blasts another another novel into award-winning orbit territory, offering one small step for an author, one giant leap forward for Canadian literature." (In honour, of course, of the great Neil Armstrong)

Amazing Things Will Happen - C.C. Chapman
C.C. was preaching to the choir for this one. I was already a subscriber to his conviction that if you follow your passion and work your hardest and keep at it, amazing things will happen.  I read this book in just a couple of quick sittings because I was riveted by Chapman's prose.  The best way that I can sum this book up is this way:  There are now two books that would make appropriate gifts for students as they graduate. "Oh, The Places You Will Go" by Dr. Seuss and "Amazing Things Will Happen" by C.C. Chapman.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Mark-ing Time With Authors

The other day, when I was compiling some of my favourite pictures from 2012, I realized that, due to the awesome job I have at Kobo (Director of Self-Publishing & Author Relations), one of the side-effects of my job is that I get to meet and hang out with authors.  What a wonderful perk that fits perfectly with something I love to do anyway. I mean, books and authors (and the fact that I'm a writer) are what originally drew me to bookselling more than twenty years ago.

So I thought it might be fun to show a few shots of me and other authors. Many of whom visited Kobo's home office in Toronto, and others I met on the road (either through Kobo, my own personal writing or via my work with Canadian Booksellers Association)

So I thought I would share a few of the pictures spotlighting just some of the awesome authors I had the pleasure of meeting or hanging out with.

One of the coolest highlights for me would have to be the honour of presenting the CBA Libris Lifetime Achievement Award to Margaret Atwood at the CBA Libris Awards ceremony in Toronto in June.

Presenting CBA Libris Lifetime Achievement Award to Margaret Atwood
The picture above is one that I love, because it's a natural exciting moment in time. (I can assure you that I am ten times more excited than Ms. Atwood was in this photo, having been a fan of hers for most of my life).  Of course, then there's the standard picture pose below.

Margaret Atwood - CBA Lifetime Achievement Award
As if that wasn't enough, that same evening I also had the honour of presenting the CBA Libris Author of the Year Award to Michael Ondaatje (for his novel THE CAT'S TABLE)

Michael Ondaatje with CBA Libris Author of the Year Award
Of course, the evening was an interesting one playing double duty between my job at Kobo (we were in the process of launching Kobo Writing Life in New York at BEA) and my role at Canadian Booksellers Association (with a ceremony taking place in Toronto).

A flight delay meant arriving just a few minutes late for the start of the CBA Libris Awards -- I was thus unable to properly introduce Master of Ceremonies Terry Fallis.  Of course, Terry, being resourceful and able to think on his feet, covered for me with a good dose of humour by starting off to deliver what was my opening address (while, of course, introducing himself as me).  When I arrived a few minutes later, to properly introduce him as MC, I expressed my thanks with a big hug . . .

"A Hug for Terry Fallis" (not to be confused with my favourite novel "A Prayer for Owen Meany"
I have been a fan of Terry's from the first moment I discovered his wonderful self-published novel THE BEST LAID PLANS.  I like to take pride in the fact that I was among the very first booksellers to stock his title back when Terry was beating the streets and trying to get the book out into the world. (I believe that the perceptive and bright folks at Book City in Toronto beat me by one day)

I partially blame amazingly talented self-pub authors like Terry (who since first self-publishing, won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, scored a publishing contract with M&S and then won CBC Canada Reads) for inspiring me to continue on in my role of working directly with authors who want to explore self-publishing.

The year also was filled with interesting publishing opportunities, and one of the projects I worked on was an Alberta Publishers Association sponsored project called ALTERNATIVE FUTURES FOR PUBLISHING.  The book was written and work-shopped in a collaborative two days in Edmonton. Here is the cast of authors below (holding Julie Wilson's SEEN READING)

Jerome Martin, Me, Merle Martin, Todd Anderson, Jessica Legacy, Kirby Wright, Paul Martin, Donna Livingstone, Kieran Leblanc

At World Horror Con in November, I got to hang out with so many wonderful authors. Here's a picture of Robert Runte, Michell Plested, Emily Craven and I.

Robert, Michell, Emily and me
 At World Horror Con I also got to see two dear author friends again (Carolyn Clink and Robert J. Sawyer) which is always fun , but also meet Virginia O'Dine in person for the first time.  I had the pleasure of publishing all three of them in TESSERACTS SIXTEEN: PARNASSUS UNBOUND.

Carolyn Clink, Robert J. Sawyer, Virgina O'Dine and me
Speaking of TESSERACTS SIXTEEN, I also had the pleasure of bringing back a reprint story that Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart had originally published in an anthology in 1992 which was entitled "Drumbeats." Here we are at FaxExpo in Toronto.  (We're holding a signed copy that Kevin and Neil personalized for me)

Kevin, T16 & me

Kevin and I originally met a few years back at Eerie Con in Niagara Falls, New York.  But this year we had the chance to really play catch up, getting together twice in Toronto: once with a visit he made to Kobo's head office...along with doing the world book launch for his Rush tie-in novel CLOCKWORK ANGELS in Toronto . . .

Me and Kevin at Kobo head office in Toronto

Another time where, Kevin, Jonathan and I caught the Rush concert together . . . (Kevin was also in town as a guest of honour for RushCon) . . .

. . . and, at Book Expo America in New York where, for the first time, we announced Kobo Writing Life, the awesome free DIY portal for authors to publish their work into Kobo's global catalog.

Kevin and I at the Kobo booth at BEA
At times it perhaps felt that I had spent more time hanging out with Kevin in 2012 than I did with my wife. But Kevin and I did discover that we shared a particular affinity not only for our wives, of course, whom we both adore spending time with, as well as for Rush, but also for craft beer. While chatting about writing, publishing, music, hiking and family, we discovered quite a few great craft beers.

I met many authors at the Kobo booth at BEA, including Jen Talty (who later came to Kobo's head office with Bob Mayer - unfortunately, the picture I got of the three of us under the Kobo sign at our head office was too blurry to use)

Me and Jen at the Kobo booth at BEA
At the Kobo booth at BEA in New York, I also had the distinct pleasure of getting to sit down and chat with Michael Connelly about writing, about his twenty years with Harry Bosch and about the interesting universe of characters that he has weaved in the past two decades. The interview/discussion was recorded, but was too shaky and unfocused to use. We'll likely be able to transcribe the conversation, since I found it so fascinating to hear about his writing process, and the manner by which his characters have grown and evolved over the years.

And it is, of course, always really fun when authors visit us at Kobo head office.  Over the past twelve months, so many great authors walked through our doors. In October, Bella Andre and Barbara Freethy came to spend the day with us and meet some folks from our home office. Yes, simply more great perks of my job

I had the pleasure of meeting dozens more authors this past year, shared panels, stages and book talks and signing events with so many of them.  Unfortunately, I either don't have pictures of those moments, or if I do, I was unable to find them while putting this post together.

In all, like I said, a perk of being a writer and of my roles within the book industry come with an amazing side-effect: getting to hang out with some of the coolest writers around.

And I'm sure that 2013 will be filled with much more of the same.