Monday, January 29, 2018

Returning to Lincoln City

I will be returning to Lincoln City at the end of February as part of the WMG Publishing Fiction River Anthology workshop. This is one of many amazingly informative and valuable workshops that Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch teach.

In previous workshops, I pulled together the anthologies Editor's Choice, Feel the Fear and Feel the Love (forthcoming).

This year I'm reading for a new anthology focusing on superstitions.

Earlier today I was reminded of my last trip to Lincoln city in the fall of 2017. After M.L. Buchman (internationally best-selling military romance writer) and I had a delightful and delicious pizza dinner at Tie Dye Pie (formerly known as Humble Pie) . . .

Inside the awesome Tie Dye Pie pizza parlor - where customers are encouraged to write on the walls and ceiling

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Podcast: Optimizing Your Author Brand with Robert J. Sawyer

The latest episode of my Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing podcast features an interview with Canadian science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer.

It's a great conversation where we talk about how Rob was the first science fiction writer to ever have a website and how he made sure to generously apply the keywords Science, Fiction and Writer throughout the site (aptly named in order to appear at the top of most keyword search results for people looking for a science fiction writer. (IE, when someone from the media wants to talk to a sci-fi writer about a recent scientific news item)

This (among other author brand exercises) has helped Rob land more than 400 radio and more than 400 television interviews over the years.

Monday, January 22, 2018

A (Super) Brief History of Publishing

I was asked, several years ago, to be one of the guest speakers at The Writers of the Future for the 30th Annual Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles, California. The topic they wanted me to cover was the future of publishing.

You can't, of course, consider the future of publishing without first taking a quick look at the history of publishing.

And that's exactly what I did, in this talk that begins with the thought that publishing was derived from human-kind's innate desire to share stories.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Hemingway And His Cats Have Nothing on Me

So I was writing in the study (a beautiful book-lined room with the requisite desk, computer, reading chair and comfy love-seat coach, not to mention some skulls and a great painting of Hemingway writing for good measure) the other day.

As I looked up from my writing, I realized that all four of the animals were lounging in the room with me.

After a slight heart-warming pause, I snapped some quick pics of the little fellows and posted it to Instagram with the following note:

"I’ve always loved this #jameslumbers painting of Hemingway called “The Sun Never Set” that hangs in my writing space. Love Papa’s cats in the image, and now have two similarly coloured ones PLUS a couple of puppies too!"

Left to Right: The Sun Never Set by James Lumbers, Meredith, Indie, Atticus and Maya

I have always loved that particular James Lumbers painting (among so many of his other works because of the beautiful "Moments in Time" that he captures using ghostly figures -- go figure that a writer of ghost stories and thrillers might enjoy that), but now this painting has an additional heart-warming feel to it, given the furry friends that I spend most of my days with lately.

I noticed, recently, that two of the cats in the Hemingway painting have the exact same coloring as Meredith and Atticus (the pair of mother and son cats in our home). Yes, Hemingway might have an additional cat in this painting, a Siamese cat, but we have two cats and two dogs: a golden retriever and a labradoodle.

So there! ;)

I finished three chapters on Macabre Montreal this week. I think I earned a celebratory drink of scotch. Thinking about Hemingway has, for some reason, put me in the mood for that . . .

Left: Papa Hemingway. Right: My Hemingway scotch glass: "Write drunk, edit sober."

Friday, January 19, 2018

Podcast: Stark Reflections on Capturing Reading Data via eBooks

In the third episode of the Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing podcast, Mark interviews Sinead McElhinney, PR Coordinator on the Communications team from Rakuten Kobo in Toronto, Ontario about some interesting reading data that Kobo released near the end of 2017. They discuss the analysis of reading data, understanding core eBook readers better, as well as some of Sinead’s favorite things about her role in the book industry.

Sinead and Mark at RT (Romantic Times) in Atlanta in May 2017 (May the 4th, if you catch the subtle hint from Mark's t-shirt)

During their conversation, Sinead and Mark discuss:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Podcast: Stark Reflections on Writing & Publishing Episode 2: Living the Healthy Writer's Life with Joanna Penn

In Episode 2 of the Stark Reflections on Writing & Publishing podcast, Mark interviews Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn about her latest book The Healthy Writer: Reduce Your Pain, Improve Your Health, And Build A Writing Career For The Long Term (co-authored with Dr. Euan Lawson) and they also have a discussion about trends in publishing and speculation about the opportunities that are likely to be on the horizon for writers.

The Healthy Writer 

In his introduction to the episode, Mark announces that Findaway Voices is now an official sponsor. He shares his own experience with using Findaway Voices to create audiobooks and also his plans for some forthcoming projects.


In Mark's interview with Joanna, they talk about:

Monday, January 15, 2018

Virtual Talk/Presentation - Understanding the Business of Writing & Publishing

On Wednesday January 17, 2018 I will be leading a virtual talk/presentation called Understanding the Business of Writing & Publishing.

The virtual talk, which is free to Canadian Authors Association members (or costs $10 for non-members to attend), is being hosted by the Waterloo-Wellington Branch. (Now local to me since my January move to Waterloo from Hamilton)

The description for the 1.5 hour workshop is below, as is the registration link.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Year It Was, What a Beer It Was, It Was

So I recently posted my annual update of my previous year in beer. I use the Untappd app to track and rate the beers that I have in a year. I have been using Untappd since early April in 2013 and have checked in a total of 3,479 unique beers since then.

When explaining Untappd to my friends, I usually describe it like Goodreads for beer.

You can read the FULL post on my Spirits Untapped blog, but here are a few interesting highlights that I have pulled out.

Unique Beer Check-ins: 829
Unique Countries: 7
Unique Venues: 118
Unique Brewery Beers: 407
Top Style: IPA
Top Venues Included: The Winking Judge (no surprise there, our favourite haunt and it was right downstairs from where I used to live), Arabella Beer Park (our new favourite local beer spot to hang out in the KW area)

Friday, January 05, 2018

Podcast: Stark Reflections on Writing & Publishing Episode 1: New Year, New Reflections

I have launched a new podcast and am copying the show-notes from the main website for this (Stark Reflections) below....

Welcome to the first episode of the Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing Podcast.

If you have questions or topics you’d love me to cover, please feel free to comment or email me at or reach out to me on Twitter @MarkLeslie.

The start of a new year is always a time for reflection. It’s often a look back at the previous year and the goals accomplished during that period. And it usually also involves setting some goals or targets for the year ahead.

I have continued to do that each year. But if you’re like me, then perhaps you also fall prey to one of those other pesky little side effects of that can come when reflecting on your goals – you end up focusing ONLY on the things that you didn’t get to strike off your annual writing “to do” list.

We tend to always do that to ourselves. For example, I didn’t achieve three of the writing goals I had laid out in 2017. Let’s walk through all three so I can illustrate how I manage to make the most out of goals NOT fully achieved.

Those three goals were:
  1. Creating and launching a short story collection
  3. Publishing the audiobook version of A CANADIAN WEREWOLF IN NEW YORK
I didn’t get any of those three things done.

And I could focus on that – OR, I could applaud myself for coming close in achieving each of those tasks, or the work that I have been able to do on them. I walk through each of those and outline what I DID achieve in relation to those goals, demonstrating that while I didn’t hit my targets, I did end up further ahead in each one than when I started off the year.

I also share some information about how my audiobooks sold in 2017, including some unexpected income sources for those audiobooks.

Two main things that I try to illustrate in going through these examples are:
  • You don’t always fully achieve the goals you set out to, but sometimes you make progress, which is good; and other times you end up achieving other things in parallel that you didn’t originally plan. DON’T LOSE SIGHT of those achievements in the process of beating yourself up about the things you didn’t hit.
  • I shared my modest earnings because one of the things that frustrates me to no end is the fact that it seems only the authors earning 6 and 7 figure incomes are publicly sharing their earnings, leading to a significant amount of comparisonitis which can be a truly demoralizing experience.
I also discuss several intriguing collaborative elements of publishing that I have been following, and call out a few specific elements I have been following (Authors on a Train, BundleRabbit, and One More Story Games alog with my belief that there will be even more great collaboration opportunities on the horizon for writers.

Links of Interest:
The music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

RSS options for this podcast:  Mark Leslie at Libsyn or Feedburner