Saturday, September 12, 2020

Imagine, If You Will, A Man Obsessed With Sharing Thought-Provoking Stories

I am about half-way through writing up the introductions to each of the stories in the Obsessions anthology that is currently part of a Kickstarter project. One might also think of these bits as interstitial pieces.

I learned how to do this effectively from mentor Kristine Kathryn Rusch while editing titles in the Fiction River anthology series. And I liken those bits to the role that Rod Serling played in The Twilight Zone, where he would walk out and set up and introduce a story.

In my case, each introduction, or interstitial, will include a bit of biographical information about the writer, my own teaser about what you're about to read, as well as some notes and direct quotes from the author on the inspiration, genesis, or other "behind-the-story" details. I write them immediately after going through a detailed read-thru and line-edit of the text, looking for typos or other formatting elements that might need a small tweak.

These bits run from anywhere between 300 to 1000 words. There's no specific formula. I liken them to me talking a long walk with the reader, and sharing some amazing stories that dear friends (the amazing contributing writers) have shared with me. And, as I relay each tale, I first introduce who that writer is and why their story is important to the overall theme I'm sharing.

Similar to that long walk, the other fun part is determining the order of the stories. Because they span multiple genres, and each has its own unique mood, cadence and feel, the order is important so I can keep my walking/listening/reading companion on a path that is interesting, offers plenty of different fascinating, entertaining, and thought-provoking bits of scenery to enjoy along the way.

What should be a riveting, entertaining, inspiring, and ultimately thought-provoking walk that stayed with them long after we both returned to our respective homes.

Have I mentioned how much I love this part of the process?


Friday, September 11, 2020

19 Years Later - 9/11 Reflections

For me, 9/11 will always be a day of quiet reflection about a terrible tragedy.

And, via something called Project 2,996, also a celebration of the lives (not the deaths).

Here's a post of celebrating some of those lost lives on the 10th anniversary via my own participation in that project.


Now, 19 years later, my reflections aren't just about those beautiful lives, because in the US alone this year, we are dealing more than 190,000 deaths, more than 9,000 deaths in Canada, and just under one million deaths world-wide due to a global pandemic.

In September of 2011, we were anxious, frightened, and mortified about deadly terrorist attacks. We responded by coming together, trying to focus on celebrating the lives of those tragically lost, of comforting those around us, and holding our loved ones close.

This September, the attack, we realize, hasn't come from a single calculated physical assault, but something far more deadly, far uglier, far more pervasive and far more difficult to over-come.

And I'm not just talking about a virus -- or at least not just about covid-19, a deadline virus transmitted through contact. That is part of it.

But we're also suffering from a much deadlier virus bred on hatred, fear, and lies -- a virus of intense and impassioned divisiveness, of anger, of fear-mongering, of objectifying and dehumanizing the "other" -- a virus of a belief that one's opinion and ready-made meme and confirmation bias is far better than actual science, that one's beliefs about race, about religion, about sexuality, are more important than basic and fundamental human rights, that a completely artificial construct and adhering to the "party of choice" is far more important than basic decency, compassion and respect.

I reflect on the words of a leader I long admired, a man whose own life was cut short. Jack Layton said it best in his final letter to Canadians when he said this:

"We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world....

".....consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world."

No, it's not going to be easy to pick up the pieces, find ways to focus on what unites us, what we have in common, but it usually begins with the way we cherish and honor our loved ones, the way we seek to nourish and support rather than objectify and destroy. And seeing how we can extend that compassion beyond our our units.

If we can start with love, if we can start with respect, if we can have those difficult, painful, and awkward discussions that lead to growth rather than doubling down on our own confirmation biases, we can have hope and optimism.

[Please don't comment with hate, anger, finger-pointing, blame naming, conspiracy theories, or any such ilk.This is not the place for it, and I will delete those comments. Go spread hate, fear, and anger on your own digital wall.

And if you feel that this post is a threat to what you believe, or where you stand, consider why you feel that way. What about what I said made you uncomfortable? What about what I said made you self-identify? You might notice that I haven't called out any specific persons, or groups, or political parties, except to quote from a man whose vision I respect and admire.

On the other hand, if you self-identified with the idea that compassion, that hope, that optimism, that love, are a good place to start, that is also worthy of reflection. What makes you optimistic, hopeful, respectful?

Also know that I see myself as being hopeful and optimistic, but I also see myself as being flawed - fixing that is an ongoing and never-ending process. I have made countless mistakes; I have done plenty of wrongs. I will, I know, inevitably continue to err, to fail at times, despite what I believe are positive intentions. But I try, in whatever small ways I can, to continue to be open to listen, to learn, to grow, recognizing that every day I am battling with so many pre-existing confirmation biases of my own. As we all are.]

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Writer Workshops at Waterloo Public Library

I'm going to be running a series of weekly workshops in Sept for writers at the Waterloo Public Library. It's part of a virtual series of events.


Tues Sept 15 - 7:30 PM - Learning About Publishing Options for Writers

A basic introduction to the various options available for writers, including finding an agent, or publisher, selling/licensing your writing, and leveraging DIY self-publishing options.

Tues Sept 22 - 7:30 PM - Step by Step Digital Publishing

I'm actually going to walk writers through step by step of taking a manuscript in WORD format and using free online resources, tools, and services, to make their work available internationally. I'll be  sharing the multiple options, direct publishing, and distribution platforms available, but will be demonstrating, in detail, the steps using Draft2Digital's awesome free tools.


Tues Sept 29 - 7:30 PM - Basic Book Marketing Strategies

Regardless of how a book is published, the most common questions writers have is how to market their work. I'll walk through a number of options, opportunities, tools, and strategies they can use with the goal towards helping get the right book in front of the right ideal audience/reader eyes.


Here is a link to a PDF of the September IN THE LOOP guide from Waterloo Public Library for this and many other great programs and services.

Saturday, September 05, 2020


 There are a couple of audio/video teasers for the first story in my "Canadian Werewolf" series which introduces readers to my main character, Michael Andrews.


The first one is a basic audio with animated audio waves and transcription on it which I made using Headliner.


The second one is a collection of videos and still images with an appropriate soundtrack to accompany the opening text of the story. This is one I made using Camtasia from TechSmith.