Friday, January 22, 2016

Evasion in Audio

I recently worked with a professional audio production company to create an audiobook version of my thriller EVASION.

The narration is done by Brian Troxell and he has done an absolutely brilliant job of making the book sound even better.

The full audiobook will be available for purchase on all of the usual sales channels (Audible, iTunes, OverDrive, etc) but I'll also be rolling the novel out in serialized podcast form once I have a release date for when the full audio book will be available.

In the meantime, here's the opening of the novel, or Episode 01 of the podcast that features the opening Author Note along with the Prologue, complete with an intro and outtro that features music from Kevin MacLeod.

Friday, January 08, 2016

My 2015 in Beer: Top 5 Beers, Top Bars and Venues

Apart from being a lover of books, I've also long been a lover of beer.

And in the past 10 years or so, I've enjoyed making an effort at trying new beers. But it got to a point where I couldn't remember if I'd had a beer or not, so about 3 years ago (April 2013), I started using UNTAPPD to track my beer.
Fun beer explorations near Kelowna, BC
I'm far from a connoisseur (ie, I'm not all that good at describing the various flavours, and mostly just either "like" or "don't like so much" the beers I'm drinking) and I quite enjoy trying new beers and also the recent rise of craft breweries that have been exploding in the past couple of years.

I also try not to check in the same beer more than once. But occasionally, for the sake of checking in a beer at an interesting or new location, or for changing my rating of a beer (perhaps, upon second or third taste, I change my perception of the beer), I'll check in more than one.

Here's a look at my beer tracking as pulled from UNTAPPD, for 2015.
  • I tried 789 unique beers in 2015
  • I enjoyed them at 120 unique venues
  • I averaged 3 beers per day in the year
Some other interesting stats:

My Top (Combination of rating plus number of times checked in) Beers drank in 2015 include:

In 2015 I gave 61 different beers a rating of 4.5 or higher (out of five stars) and gave 6 of them a five star rating. The 6 five star rating beers in 2015 were:

The lowest rated beer from 2015 was one called Double IPA from Stoudts Brewing Company, which I gave 1.5 stars to and left this comment: "I'm not fond of the nail polish remover aftertaste."

Among the most popular and favourite venues I checked in this past year include:
I also attended a number of beer fests throughout the year -- and, my beautiful partner in beer-enjoyment and I were able to not only get to a number of them together, but also did some amazing explorations of beer locales within Southern Ontario, in and near Kelowna, BC as well as in various neighbourhoods in New York City. Liz and I have even more fun plans regarding our beer explorations this coming year which I will be posting about at a later date.  (Of course, our other plans for 2016 involve doing an extreme race together, a lot more hiking than we accomplished in 2015, and even more great walking tours of various cities that we travel to together - that should help reduce the somewhat negative effect of enjoying our favourite beverage so often)

Liz and I at Because Beer in Hamilton - Summer 2015

My totals, for UNTAPPD, to date (and which started April 6, 2013) include 1,831 unique beers and 669 badges (yes, UNTAPPD does a great job of the gamification of social beer drinking). I'm pretty sure that I'll get to 2,000 unique check ins before the end of the year, and, based on previous trending, I should hit about 1900 by time the end of January rolls around.

Of course, I also have writing goals.

Now, if ONLY my goals of writing and enjoying beer could ever be merged some-how. Hint Hint - news on that to come.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

My 2015 in Writing

As I used to (and have skipped writing up for the past couple of years), I thought it might be useful to outline some of my writing goals, achievements, successes and missed in this past year.

Since 2012, I have been writing non-fiction paranormal books for Dundurn. Haunted Hamilton came out in 2012. Spooky Sudbury (co-authored with Jenny Jelen) came out in 2013. Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries came out in 2014.

While I wrote most of Creepy Capital: Ghost Stories of Ottawa and the National Capital Region in 2015, and turned the book in back in April 2015, the scheduling of the book in Dundurn's line-up didn't end up landing until Spring 2016. So I missed a year publishing a non-fiction title.  My Ottawa ghost story book will be coming out in a few months, this year. In fact, as I type this, my editor has gotten the book back to me and I need to return it by next month so that the publishing process to have the book out in May 2016 can stay on track.

Liz and I about to embark on a mid-winter downtown Ottawa ghost walk

Creepy Capital was a fun book to work on, and it involved multiple trips to Ottawa with my partner Liz who adopted the role of research assistant. We had a lot of fun going on the ghost walks as well as staying in one of the haunted hotels and exploring the museums and other locales that are covered in the book. There was lots of exploring and many fun side-line adventures involved. It felt, to me, like the MOST hands-on research I have done for any of my non-fiction paranormal books.

I also started working on the next non-fiction paranormal book HAUNTED HOSPITALS which is being co-authored with Rhonda Parrish (details for that one to be confirmed an announced)

This past year I managed to get the completed manuscript for A CANADIAN WEREWOLF IN NEW YORK to a fantastic editor recommended by folks from the Superstars Writing Seminars, where I am a guest instructor, and have been for the past three years. I'm still only half-way through the edits on that, and, while I had fully intended on getting the book out by the end of 2015, I'm still not quite there. (Oh well, at least it'll be something to get done THIS YEAR!)

2015 saw we sell a short story to a Rush themed anthology edited by Kevin J. Anderson (2113), as well as revise a story I'd sold the year before to another anthology edited by Rebecca Moesta (SPARKS)

Speaking of short stories, I also ended up becoming editor of a couple of anthologies.  The first was based on some amazing workshops led by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I'm editing EDITOR'S PICKS, an anthology idea I came up with while scheming with Dean during their absolutely fantastic Fiction River anthology workshops that are held in the winter each year in Lincoln City. That'll be coming out next year.  I also read through submissions from the Sudbury Writers Guild and selected stories that'll appear in an anthology that they will be publishing either later this year or in 2017.

Also, this past year, Liz and I rented an artist table at Hamilton Comic-Con. While I had volunteered at the Horror Writers Association tables at similar cons in Toronto in the past, this was my first solo author table at a comic con.  And it was an amazing experience. We have already booked tables for comic cons in Niagara Falls, Sudbury and are on the waiting list for Ottawa for later this year.

Meeting John Schneider (of Dukes of Hazzard, Smallville, etc) at Hamilton Comic-Con

Not only was Hamilton Comic-Con a great place to sell lots of copies of Haunted Hamilton and several of my other titles, but I got a chance to meet a pretty cool actor (John Schneider - AKA "Bo Duke") who and found out that he is a super friendly and wonderfully nice guy. He had been checking out the various artist tables and was asking me about my books, wondering which one he should buy. I made sure that he walked away with a signed copy of Haunted Hamilton (he'd never been to the city before, after all, and I figured he should have an interesting souvenir of the city), and I insisted giving him the copy -- after all, he had entertained me for many years; it was the least I could do.

So, whereas 2014 saw three books released, and 2015 didn't see any new releases of mine, it was a year of productivity, finding new promotional opportunities and getting some works in play for this year.

Monday, January 04, 2016

My 2015 In Reading

Wow. So I only posted 3 articles to my blog in 2015. And I didn't even do the annual summation of the books I had read the year before either.

Hoping to kick-start this year into at least 12 posts -- let's see if I can do at least 1 post every month, shall we?


Here's a bit from my year in books as summarized by Goodreads.

  • I read 41 books in 2015 (not counting the ones I had to read for work, ie, as an editor).
  • The shortest book I read was 45 pages (Kevin J. Anderson's Million Dollar Productivity)
  • The longest book I read was 495 pages (Stephen King's The Bazaar of Bad Dreams)
  • The most popular book I read was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins 
  • (I'm most surprised that Harper Lee's Go Set A Watchman wasn't the most popular one)
  •  I enjoyed at least three (perhaps four depending on how you classify them) romance novels in the past year. Two Marie Force novels, one straight out romance (Maid for Love), another romantic suspense (Fatal Affair), one Liliana Hart romantic comedy/suspense (Whiskey Rebellion) and Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Project
  • I only read 3 non-fiction books in the past year. Odd, I normally like to read more. In fact, I'm sure I read more - at least one or two other non-fiction books for writers. Perhaps I missed recording a few. Will have to go back and double check that.

I won't break the list down the way I have in years past -- simply, I'll list the books that I most enjoyed having read in the past year, linking to each one.  In no particular order, here at the books I loved the most from my 2015 reading:

Poles Apart - Terry Fallis

The Damned - Andrew Pyper

12 - Sean Platt & David Wright

Clockwork Lives - Kevin J. Anderson

Last Call - Sean Costello

The Martian - Andy Weir

The Crossing - Michael Connelly

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion

Fatal Affair - Marie Force

The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins