Category archive: Uncategorized

Coming Soon to a Kindle Near You

My post-apocalyptic vampire novel, Vampire Road, will launch Monday, May 30th.  It will only be available for the Kindle platform via Amazon at first, but all other formats will follow.

Warning: if you want to read about sexy vampires in love, stay away.  If you want to read about conflicted vampires who suffer bouts of guilt about their serial killer lifestyle, this is not the book for you.

If you want a fast-paced exciting read, this is your novel.  It’s about brave people fighting to survive against all odds.  Unfortunately, they spend almost as much time fighting each other as they do fighting their real enemy, but that’s what human beings do when stressed to the breaking point.

Stay tuned to find out how you can win a free download.

Shamelessly Canadian

I had to decide whether it would bug Americans that my Sioux Rock Falls short stories are shamelessly Canadian.

Storyteller Magazine (now defunct) specifically wanted stories that could “only happen in Canada,” and like any good writer, I sent them what they wanted to publish.

But as I put these stories up for sale as e-books on Amazon, I have to wonder if American readers will think I can’t spell.  I look at those extra u’s and I wonder if I should just let Microsoft do what it wants and eliminate them.

The truth, of course, is these stories drip Canadian, and the Canadian spellings actually add to the flavour.  Yup, there’s another extra “u.”  I don’t think Americans will hold it against me.  They like Giles Blunt’s Algonguin Bay novels and they like Harry Potter, which sure as heck wasn’t set in New Jersey either.

So as I formatted the stories for Kindle I decided to leave them as they first appeared in Storyteller Magazine: shamelessly Canadian.

Are Science Fiction Writers and Fans Technophobic?

I love the Ad-astra SF convention because it’s mostly about writers and readers.  While Darth Vader does wander around and the costumes are fantastic, the emphasis and debates center around SF novels and their evolution.

So one would expect that science fiction authors and readers would be the first ones to embrace new technology.  I assumed that SF people would be on the cutting edge of exploiting new gadgets, especially related to reading and writing.

Instead, I was surprised this weekend when I found that there was hardly a mention of e-books.  When they did come up, heads shook and people spoke of upheaval.  Readers and writers expressed concern about who would be the gatekeepers in this new universe if the publishers couldn’t keep the riff-raff out of print.  Others talked about the smell and feel of paper books, even when I pointed out that they were probably talking about the scent of printing chemicals and binding glue, and in the case of their old paperback collections, mildew and mold.

I went to the only panel dedicated to e-books and found a nearly empty room.  Of the five panelists scheduled to speak, only two had turned up.  The audience consisted of four of us, with a fifth coming late.

Now the 10:00 am Sunday morning time slot probably didn’t help; there’s quite a bit more partying on Saturday night at an SF convention than most people ever imagined.  The Chizine party rocked, and not just because they provided lots of free beer and wine.   I’m guessing that some people weren’t up and running Sunday morning with their usual vigor.

But still, when you think that Amanda Hocking has sold a couple of million SF e-books in the last year, you would think everyone at the convention would at least know her name, but I was stunned to find that many of those avid readers had never heard of her because they don’t buy e-books and they don’t follow that market.

We had a great panel in spite of the low turn out, and it was clear by the end of the hour that we were all die-hard converts to e-books, including author Dave Duncan, whose wily agent, Richard Curtis, jumped early and fast into the e-book market and has all of Duncan’s back list out there and selling.  Ryan McFadden, who converts Chizine’s published novels into e-book format, did a great job as the unexpected moderator.

Now my generalization about the technophobia must be taken with a grain of salt since it’s based totally on anecdotal evidence.  Science fiction master Robert J. Sawyer was doing readings from an e-reader ten years ago, and he’s one of the earliest adopters I know of that technology.

But I’m a bit concerned now.  I’m on a panel about e-books this coming June at the Bloody Words mystery convention in Victoria.  I’m looking forward to the conference, but I have to wonder if I’ll show up for the panel and find an empty room.  Will I be abandoned by my fellow panelists and speaking with a tiny audience?  I’d love to speak to a full room, but it would be rather disappointing if I discovered that mystery writers and readers are more interested in e-books than science fiction fans.

Vinyl is still dead and e-books are here to stay

Vinyl records are coming back!  CD sales are falling!  I’ve read the articles and heard the stories, but sorry, vinyl isn’t coming back.  Vinyl sales truly are way up, but it’s easy to double sales of a product when you’re hardly selling anything in the first place.

According to Alan Cross, who does the History of New Music on radio stations such as CFNY in Toronto, vinyl record sales have climbed from nothing to somewhere between 1 and 2 % of the market.  Most people still download straight to their i-pods.

Fogel sent me this comment that she read on slashdot.org, in which the commenter claims:

“… It has become so easy to record a band’s music and to release it …  that music has become so incredibly oversaturated. … With vinyl, it costs so much more and is such a bigger process that it almost weeds out much of the bullshit.”

Please!  Weeds out much of the bullshit?  I went to high school in the late 70s and endured the terrible canned music that was being pumped out on vinyl by the ton.  KC and the Sunshine band?  That’s the way, ah-huh ah-huh, I don’t like it. Ah-huh Ah-huh.

This myth that the record industry and publishing industry were  saving us from garbage music and books is an old tired old fiction mostly promoted by the established industry hacks.

If the cost of production is such a filter of crap, how does Hollywood keep making junk year after year?  Howard the Duck?  Who thought that was a good script?  George Lucas?  That is one of the very few times I walked out on a movie.  It was that bad, even with a monster budget.

Indy bands have come out of nowhere for years and produced great music that the record companies were more than happy  to scoop up late when the band had already done the hard work of building a following.

There’s a growing market of indy writers like myself thanks to e-books.  Some of us will never get out of the garage, others will get publishing contracts after they’ve done the hard work of building a following.  The true filter is the writing.  If it’s good you’ll have fans.

So for all you book lovers that hate e-books and think that the supposed vinyl comeback proves e-books are a fad: sorry.  E-books are only going to increase in sales, and all those books made from dead trees will fade away with the boomers.

Running Naked Through the Mall

The naked slating dream.  I know three other camera assistants who’ve had this dream, and I had it several times during the decade I spent as a Second Assistant Camera in Toronto’s film and television industry.

In the dream I was on set standing naked in a corner.  No one had noticed yet, but the 1st A.D. calls, “Roll Sound!”

Crap!  I’m the slater, the guy who holds the time-code slate in front of the camera and calls, “Thirty-six Apple.  Take One!  Marker!”  Smack the slate and get out of the shot ASAP without tripping on anything or ruffling the lead actor.  But I’m naked!  How can I jump into the middle of set?  The director, the producer, continuity, the A.D., the operator and the focus puller, this is the one moment they’re all looking straight at me, mostly waiting for me to do my thing and get out of the way.

But this dream doesn’t happen to just 2nd ACs.  Some of you have had this dream.  Maybe you were naked at the mall, running to get out before anyone noticed.  Worse, perhaps you were in your underwear in the high school cafeteria…and you’re a teacher.

Well writing is like that.

It’s easy to pose as an intellectual at a party.  No one really needs to know that your favorite show is Battlestar Gallactica.  All you have to do is spout back what you read in the newspaper.  It helps if it’s politically correct, or if you punctuate your found opinions with emphatic statements like, “We’ve each got our part to play in solving…”  Insert current crisis of the year here.  Presto!  You’re a thoughtful person—an intellectual.

But writing is like running naked through the mall.  People see you at your most vulnerable.  They can see inside your skull.  They can judge, they can smirk, and if they read on they KNOW what you were thinking.

If they’re smart.

So take a look.  Railroaded and Burning Moose are up there already.  The rest of my Storyteller Magazine stories will go up soon, to be followed by my contest winners and placers.  I’m letting you into my brain, my soul.

I’m running naked through the mall.

I like it.