Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Holiday Gift For Writers

I just received a great offer from the good folks behind Superstars Writing Seminars and am delighted to be able to share this during the holiday season.

In February 2018 I will be a returning guest instructor at a three day workshop designed to teach writers the BUSINESS of writing and publishing. Superstars Writing Seminars (or SWS for short) is a conference that embraces all aspects of the publishing industry, offering insights into digital and indie/self-publishing as well as the aspects of traditional publishing.

One of the things I've loved best, and the main reason I've spoken at this conference for the past five years is that a writer attending Superstars Writing Seminars leaves with a fully balanced understanding of the business of writing so that they can make solidly informed decisions on their own writing and publishing paths.

2018 Instructors: Kevin J. Anderson, David Farland, Eric Flint, Rebecca Moesta, James A. Owen, Brandon Sanderson

2018 Guest Instructors: NY Times Bestselling authors Jim Butcher, Jonathan Maberry & Dean Wesley Smith, Smashwords founder Mark Coker, Paul Stevens from the Donald Maass Literary Agency, Lisa Mangum, editor of Shadow Mountain Publishing, David Pomerico, Editorial Director of HarperVoyager US, and yours truly.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Channeling My Inner Dominatrix

I was recently a guest on Dana Pharant's Inner Dominatrix podcast.

Episode 77 is entitled "Transition Time Can Be Fun" and in it we talk about the recent changes in my life and how I am taking the time to enjoy the moment rather than panic about what is about to come next.

It's funny, this is the first time that I haven't had steady work (via an actual job where I'm required to be somewhere almost every day) since 1992. And, instead of being nervous or anxious about it, I'm relaxed and soaking in the moment as much as I can.

Dana was helpful by asking me questions that assisted me with finding that place to be as well as recognizing some of the elements I was barely aware of as I was living in that moment.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Make Your Own Path On Life's Journey

Yesterday I drove to Barrie to say goodbye to a friend.

I hadn't seen Frank Nelson in person in a couple of years, and it had been much longer since I had seen Frank on a regular basis. We worked together at Chapters/Indigo many years ago.

But he continued to inspire me. And he continues to inspire me to this day.

On December 8, 2017, Frank Nelson passed away. I won't say that he "lost his battle" with cancer; and that's because he won his battle. He won the battle on so many accounts. When Frank was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2010, he began a phase of creating a bucket list that involved "Paying it Back" and helping others in need.

Frank's desire to take $1000 and give it to a complete stranger turned into an incredible legacy of caring and giving.

The last time I saw Frank was a couple of years ago when we arranged to meet at a Tim Hortons in Barrie.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

What Canadians Read in 2017

One of the things I always loved about Kobo was their willingness to share insights about reading data.

I rec'd two messages from Kobo today that really tickled me.

One was about my Kobo Reading Life. (And yes, when I created Kobo Writing Life I DID base it on the already awesome "Reading Life" program the company had crafted)

Interesting to see how much MORE reading I have done in the past month compared to the one before that. Not working 60 to 80 hours a week can have that positive affect on a person's reading time. (I'm MUCH richer for the reading experience)

The other was a fascinating series of lists and stats about what Canadians were reading on Kobo in 2017. Below are some snippets from that message:

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Long Goodbye, The Quick Hello

In my podcast feed this morning, two of the Wednesday podcasts that loaded to my pod-catcher come with interesting timing.

The interview with Rachel took place in Kobo's office in October and is wonderful to go back and listen to. I was particularly impressed with how hard and long she worked at writing (and how she prioritizes writing into her daily schedule), and the tipping point for her towards making a full-time go of it. Rachel was inspiring and charming and fun to talk to. At the end of that episode I offer my own "audio" goodbye to the podcast listeners.

For the SPP Podcast (not always safe for work, BTW - and I believe I'm the first to say a naughty word in this episode - "When in Rome" after all) I talk about "Life After Kobo" but also reflect on the book industry in general and what I learned from my years at Kobo, as well as speculation about what the future holds.

It feels as if I'm spent the past thirty days participating in "The Long Goodbye" - I suppose that's a side-effect of the deep adoration I had for the past six years working at Kobo (all the amazing people I worked with their and the fantastic authors I was fortunate to get to know and to spend time with.

Something I realized, in the past month, was that I was going to miss the ongoing interaction with authors, and for that reason, I decided to create my own podcast where I could talk to industry folks, to authors, and continue to share my own reflections on publishing.

So I decided to adapt the first publishing imprint I created back in 2004 to publish One Hand Screaming (Stark Publishing - derived from Stark Entertainment, the DJing service that my best friend Steve and I created back in University. STARK = "Ste" from Steve and "ark" from Mark), use part of the original design Steve created for me and call it STARK REFLECTIONS ON WRITING & PUBLISHING.

I'm recording episodes now and will be releasing it in January 2018. But you can listen to a quick teaser about the podcast and be notified when the episodes start up.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Cheers to Beers

Admittedly, I haven't been blogging here much, even though I'm proud to say that I have been blogging since my initial post on March 3, 2005.

That first post wasn't much, just a note that my friend from work, Mathew (work back then was Chapters Online, or Chapters/Indigo) had mocked me into starting a blog. It's short (so unlike me) and sweet (well I can sometimes be sweet) and called Beginnings. (I was unique, since it wasn't like many blogs, called "My First Post")

My second post, on March 9th, was a little more typical of the musings I would blog about over the years. It was called Not the TV show starring Dick. This one was about the growth of my Van Dyke beard. You know, the facial hair that everyone calls a goatee. (It is technically either referred to as a Van Dyke or a goatee and mustache. A goatee is just chin hair. A mustache is hair over the top lip. But, since laziness prevails and that affects language, most people call it a goatee. Gee, see how I like to rant about such things?)

In my first eight years of blogging I averaged between 180 and 190 blog posts per year, which was almost one every two or three days.

I haven't blogged as much since 2012. Perhaps one reason is that many of my updates end up being shared in the quicker click share of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. Another part of the reason is likely that my "blogging" efforts were directed towards the Kobo Writing Life blog as well as other writing efforts.

But I still quite enjoy blogging. Heck, I've even started other blogs that align directly specific passions.

While the KWL Blog was focused specifically on writing and publishing, and I was able to channel much passion into that, Liz and I started Spirits Untapped, a blog that focuses on the spirit and spirits that inhabit beer and bar culture.

A "Beer with Norm" - What does it say about me for this being on my bucket list?
Yes, this will be information that we have started compiling for a forthcoming book in my "series" of books on the paranormal, called SPIRITS UNTAPPED: Haunted Bars and Breweries that likely won't be out for a couple of years; but we started this the blog in May 2016 and on the blog we decided to focus on the Spirit of Beer Culture, while throwing in a few spots about haunted locations.

For example, the first post, May 7, 2016, was about The Winking Judge on Augusta Street in Hamilton. I first learned about it when writing Haunted Hamilton: The Ghosts of Dundurn Castle & Other Steeltown Shivers. And it has since become a local "haunt" since I moved into an apartment "above" the judge in 2014.

The Winking Judge - One of our favorite haunts

On Spirits Untapped, Liz and I blog about such things as:

. . . along with other fun intersections from beer culture as well as a map tracking the various locations we have enjoyed beers together since 2014.

I'm pretty sure that the Spirits Untapped blog will continue to grow now that I have more time for writing, and that I'll also be returning to blog more here as 2017 draws to a close and we usher in 2018.