Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Kobo Writing Life Podcast

The second episode of the Kobo Writing Life podcast went live this morning.

Episode Two (or, Episode 002 if you prefer), features an interview with Robert Levine, author of FREE RIDE.

The interview includes Robert's perspectives on copyright and pricing as well as the difference between writing for dailies, weeklies and monthlies to transitioning into writing a full length book with an entirely different publication schedule.

Episode One (or Episode 001), features an interview with Steve Vernon, author of such items as the Flash Virus serialized YA thriller, The Tatterdemon Trilogy as well as non-fiction books such as Haunted Harbours and Maritime Murder.

Christina (KWL Team), Steve Vernon and me
For Steve's interview we talk about his role as a hybrid author and why he has embraced both traditional publishing as well as self-publishing.  I thought it was interesting that part of the reason is that Steve has SO MANY stories to write and share that traditional publishing just can't keep up with his production pace and schedule.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Barnaby Warrior

One of the photos I forgot to post in my Warrior Dash Barrie 2013 summary post from a few days ago was a picture I took of my skeleton Barnaby in my Warrior Dash t-shirt from last year.

It would have been hilarious to run with Barnaby or just have him posed on one of the obstacles in shirt, running shorts and shoes, as if he were a runner that couldn't make it over one of them - you know, as if he'd been at for THAT long . . .

In any case, here he is, ready for battle, but ensuring he is resting before the race . . .

Friday, July 26, 2013

Get Your Warrior On! (Warrior Dash Barrie 2013)

I ran the Warrior Dash in Barrie at Horseshoe Resort for the third year in a row.

Pierre and I in costume for 2013 Warrior Dash - photo from Barrie Examiner

And for the third year in a row I wore my "Conan the Barbarian" costume that my aunt made for me when I was 14.

My Conan costume - from my early teens (when I was a lot more skinny)

Yes, I know, it doesn't fit as nicely as it used to when I first wore it to the Halloween dance at Levack District High School

No, not even as nicely as it fit when I was in University

Halloween - at one of Pat & Mike's infamous parties in my university days

But it has been the tradition for three years now, that this is the costume I wear for the Warrior Dash.

2012 Warrior Dash - Me, Pierre, Tricia and Chad

For the first year, Pierre, Chad and I ran the race.  Last year, Chad's wife Tricia joined us.  And this year, Chad finally broke down and wore a costume. In previous years, he wore a shirt that read: "I don't do costumes!" -- but, a man of extremes, he went from wearing no costume to wearing a . . . wait for it . . . Borat bathing suit . . .

There are some things that just can't be unseen.

Me, Pierre and Chorat....for some reason, Tricia is nowhere to be seen

Chad, Pierre and I, post-race muddy

Needless to say, Chad's costume was the "talk of Warrior town" that morning.

Also needless to say, Tricia refused to run with us and ran on ahead, keeping a safe 1 KM or more in front of us lest people see us together.

Also needless to say, shortly after the race, Chad changed back into his civies.  But the damage had been done, the eyewash needed to be handed out along with the free beer that came with the tracking chits.

Fun costumes = lots of extra beer from fellow Warriors

Speaking of tracking chits, Pierre and I scored quite a few extra free beers from folks who were driving and couldn't use theirs.  No harm done there. None of us were driving, because we stay both Friday and Saturday at the resort and enjoy it as party of a mini family vacation.  Horseshoe resort has some amazing activities for the kids, and they always enjoy the zip line, the rock wall climbing, the maze, the trampolines and the Aqua Ogo balls (giant hamster balls filled with water that you climb into before it is pushed down a hill)

Alexander coming in on the zip line
Zander on the climbing wall

Cuddling with my better half in the big red muskoka chair

Horsing around with the kids (Alexander, Gavin and Oliver) in the pool on Friday night

This year, thanks to advice from my pal Sean, we booked a couple of the condo suites and had tons of space, a full kitchen, fridge, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer and two bedrooms.  (Not that the male warriors got all that much sleep -- we made friends with some cool runners from Sudbury and hung out with them both nights)

I have to say that the race this year was even more challenging, more fun that last year. They continue to improve the obstacles each year. I hurt my knees and elbows falling down the back side of some of the obstacles.  I even rolled through the mud, across the gravel and right off the trail into the woods on one of the obstacles that I fell down.

Here's the washing machine with our Warrior costumes in it. Yikes!

They reversed the course from the previous two years, beginning the race with a climb right up a long slope to the top of the hill -- talk about exhausting the runners right away -- but it served a nice purpose, quickly thinning out the pack that used to bunch up the minute we hit the woods in the previous years.  So it kept things flowing nicely.  Going up and down the side of the ski hill continues to be the biggest challenge of the race -- I mean, who cares about the bared wire (which did slice open my back quite nicely at one spot), and leaping over fire or scaling ten foot walls when you have to go back up that damn ski hill?  At least there was a lot of shade on this year's trail.

After the race, Pierre and I shaved our heads (Chad was already shaved and again, Tricia stayed far away)  We had an audience for this and were laughing about Drunk Barber....

Drunk Barber - free haircuts, if you can handle the fact it's "one cut for all heads"

One of the most hilarious pictures is when I had just jumped off the cargo net and was doing my Warrior Yell for Francine, when Chad ran in front of me. Cheeky bugger!

My Warrior Yell pose "white washed" by Chad's cheeky photo bomb

Kudos to the folks at Horseshoe Resort and Warrior Dash for upping their game yet again.

It was a fun novelty race (we don't race competitively, but rather stick together as a team and run together, enjoying the fun of going through the obstacles, laughing at each other and having some fun) and a weekend that I look forward to every year.  We mixed our time between hanging out with our families, meeting new friends and, given that Pierre and I stayed in our costumes for quite a while on Saturday, posing for dozens of pictures.

I can't wait until next year. In fact, I have already registered for July 19, 2014.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

The Swimming Dead

So it was an interesting commute home last night.

Record rainfall in Toronto (yes, beating the previous rainfall record set in 1954 by Hurricane Hazel) -- no, not Mississauga's mayor, who is sometimes referred to by this name, but an actual hurricane - I remember hearing about it a lot when I was a child; my Mom would come into a room I was playing in -- and, of course, making a mess in -- and would say: "It looks like Hurricane Hazel came through here!"

In any case, at about 7 PM on the QEW in Mississauga, traffic came to a complete stop in both directions.

A transport slowly makes it way through the flooding that has stopped traffic in both directions

The QEW was completely flooded near Hurontario.

A police officer with a shovel walks through the flood waters looking to unclog storm drains

A few cars that had tried to make it through were either stuck or had just made it through before their engines had died. A few transports actually slowly chugged their way through. Some of us cheered them on each time they made it through, and they'd blast their horns proudly.

It was like an ad-hoc meetup (as one of my friends on Facebook posted)

The QEW stopped in both directions from flooding near Hurontario Street

And, when I was walking down the middle lane of the 403 on the opposite side of the highway (taking advantage of the simple joyful fact that I could walk down this completely barren stretch of highway), another one of my friends said my posted self-portrait reminded them of Rick Grimes -- another than the pictures I was posting looked like a scene out of the first episode of The Walking Dead.

Look Ma, I'm Rick Grimes, walking down a barren stretch of highway during rush hour

"The Swimming Dead, more like," I thought.

People in the crowd enjoyed talking pictures of my skeleton Barnaby, who was sitting in my passenger seat.  I quipped about the poor guy being frightened to death by all the flooding, or that he was alive when I first got on the highway.  (Yes, great ice-breaker when people say:  "No, really - why do you have a skeleton in your car?" It gives me a potential chance to let them know I'm a horror writer - always be promoting......)

I couldn't resist taking a picture of Barnaby in traffic -- if he had just a bit of flesh on his bones he might look a bit more like a scene from early episodes of The Walking Dead.

Barnaby doesn't seem all that phased by the fact that the QEW has become a parking lot

Despite the frustration, most of the folks stuck in this traffic were in good humour. We had to admit that we were lucky not to have our cars flooded over the way we noticed had happened on some other routes, and on a couple of the GO train lines.

It was interesting to see, though, how easy it was for our little part of civilization to come to a complete stop and just how fragile our day to day routines really are.

And, of course, more fuel for a post-apocalyptic storyline I've been kicking around in my head for a while.....

Yes, everything is fruit for a story. I'm a writer. What else do you expect?

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Nine Years Ago

Nine years ago today my son was born.

And my life changed.


For the better.

I can't express just how fantastic it is to be a father - in particular to be Alexander's father.

Alexander at Tobermory
It's funny. I remember thinking (in the way that many teens do), at how little my parents knew about everything when I was in high school, and marveling at just how much they learned when I went away to university.  It was an interesting perception thing.

There's a new perception thing taking place now that I'm a parent.  It seems that now I marvel at just how much my son teaches me about the world every single day -- he helps me see the world with a fresh new perception, with innocence and curiosity; with wonder and a new appreciation.

Sure, I helped give him life, nurtured him, took care of, provided for, coached, taught and played with him -- did all those fatherly things.  But among the most important things I could ever do with simply listen to him. Actually sit and chat with him about the little things, about the big things, about the things that are important to him, the things he wants to express.

And from that, I have learned so much more about him, about me, about the world.

Barnaby, Zander and Daddio on their July 2013 Road Trip

It has become a tradition, ever since his first birthday, for me to take the first week of July off to spend with Alexander.  A fun father-son week.  This year we decided to take a road trip, try some fishing, and do a quick visit with my Mom (Baba Jean).

Alexander demonstrating how he caught his first fish (Georgian Bay near Tobermory)

Though it was a quick three-day trip (I needed to back back in Hamilton on Friday morning so that I could participate in a little Kobo chat about kids and eBooks on CHCH Morning Live), we packed a lot of fun into those days, and it was, as always, a delight to spend so much time with my son where the focus was on doing fun father-son stuff.

The proud fisherman (with his cooler of fish), posing near the Joseph Simon (our chartered fishing boat)

We did some fishing in Tobermory (his first time out, and almost twenty years since I had gone fishing), we took the Chi-Cheemaun ferry from Tobermory to South Baymouth, then drove up through Manitoulin Island on our way to Sudbury and Levack.

Alexander on the Joseph Simon (fishing vessel), just off Middle Island (just before catching his first fish)

A simple, trip, quick, yet the stuff that fun memories are made of. 

Alexander on the deck of the Chi-Cheemaun

And, as mentioned, a chance for me to learn more about everything from my son. Alexander is an amazing little boy and doing stuff with him is an absolute joy, pleasure and privilege.

Relaxing on board the Chi-Cheemaun (from Tobermory to Manitoulin)
I am a blessed father, a blessed man.