My New Glasses (a eulogy)

I’ve worn glasses since the age of 9. If I want to see and function normally, I have to wear them. And I have never, in that entire time, liked the way I looked in glasses. They have been a necessary burden. I hated going to get glasses. It was stressful, confusing, and always disappointing.

Why stressful? Because I overthink everything, so trying to accurately answer the optometrist’s questions (Which is better-1 or 2? More blurry? Sharper? I DON’T KNOW) creates a bundle of anxiety. I put off getting new glasses until I could barely see through the old ones.

But after 7 years with the same beat-up pair, I finally relented and went to the optometrist a couple of weeks ago. I went because my friend Jeff worked at the place, and he assured me that they would make it a less stressful experience.

And he was right: the exam went much more smoothly than it ever has for me. Of course, this led to the second challenge for my overthinking brain: choosing frames. I was prepared to get wound up and anxious as I flailed around trying in vain to find a good pair of frames.

I walked resignedly into the showroom, and felt an immediate swell of relief. My pal Jeff was there. I started trying on frames and asking his opinion, which he gave freely. I knew I could trust his opinion because a) he knew his stuff and b)he was an honest and kind friend. (Not that I thought about it that way at the time).

As I hummed and hawed, Jeff came back over with a set of frames. “Here try these” he said. I slipped them on and felt something I had never felt at the eyeglass shop: happiness. For the very first time in my life, I had a pair of glasses on my face that made me feel good about my appearance. And I had them because of my friend.

Jeff was always looking out for his friends, the first to help, the first to care about your challenges, the first to cheer your triumphs.

I hate having to write about Jeff in the past tense. He died suddenly last Friday, and my life is poorer for the absence of his unmistakable kindness. jeff


I gotta be me

Updates first!

Update #1: new book is now for sale! Check the Books page for all the sale sites. (or just go buy the ebook at Smashwords)

Update#2: I’ll be at Forest City Comicon this weekend, chatting with fans new and old. Drop by if you’re going.

Update #3: the exclusive short story Kickstarter reward is one final edit away from completion. That means the Kickstarter rewards will start flying through the air to the backers in the next few days.

Update #4: I’m being beseiged by a head cold at the moment, so please grade this blog post on a sympathetic curve.


And now to today’s topic: topics! (AKA a blog post about blog posts- how Meta)

My plan, recently, has been to reserve this blog for writing-related posts. When I’ve felt the need to expound upon any other topic, I’ve shoved that idea to the back burner (or onto the trash pile). My logic was that I did not want to confuse, bore or agitate the readers by opining on current events.

But I’ve rethought that plan. The purpose of this blog is to promote my writing, sure. I love talking about whatever I’m working on, and the strange twists and turns that happen along the way. The other stuff matters too, though. I don’t spend every waking minute pondering the mysteries of storytelling. The other things that catch my attention are an important part of who I am, and that informs my writing.

And really, the main function of this blog is communication. It’s a wierd way to communicate (mostly one-way) but it still counts. The writers who I admire, like John Scalzi or Chuck Wendig , don’t restrain their opinionated selves. For good or ill, they let loose.

So here’s the new deal: I’m going to se this space for anything I think is interesting enough to write a note about. Sometimes, it will be boring if you don’t live in the same city/province/country as I do. Sorry about that. And occasionally, I’m going to cheese some folks off. Such is life.



Feeling the Pinch


If no one has ever mentioned it to you, let me be the first: asking for money is hard. It helps when you believe in the reason for asking (in this case, my fantastic new novel The Ember and the Knife) but still, it takes a lot of moxie to ask folks to give up their hard earned cash to support your goals.

And I can’t keep from thinking about my friends who are scraping by as it is. Life is expensive, and I certainly know that (If I was flush with cash, I wouldn’t be out here dancing for nickels). So I want to take a moment and say something to everyone who’s feeling guilty because they’re torn between supporting me and paying their own bills. To my friends about to embark on the joyous, terrifying and expensive parenthood journey. To my entrepeneur friends fighting every day to build their businesses and keep the doors open. To my fellow writers who are trying to figure out how art and money can ever co-exist. To my older friends working to live within a tight fixed income. To anyone facing hard choices:

It’s okay. I understand. More than anything else, I want you to be healthy and happy.

But for the rest of the crowd who have a few extra bucks at the end of the week for a new boardgame or a fancy hat, here’s the link to the fundraising campaign: The Ember and the Knife fundraiser. Maybe chip in a little extra in honour of the folks who can’t. We’re all in this together, after all.


It’s Go Time!

My Kickstarter campaign (here is the LINK) for my brand new book (The Ember and the Knife, book 4 of the Spellbound Railway Series) has…BEGUN!

What is Kickstarter, you ask? Online fundraising, simply put.

It allows creators (like me) to ask their supporters and fans (like you) to raise enough money to meet a specific goal (like buying an inventory of print copies of my fantastic new book and pay for some advertising to get new readers hooked on the series).

We have 30 days to hit the goal of raising $1000. I know that we can do it, because you are all fantastically supportive and wonderful human beings.

And for those in the crowd with empty pockets and straining budgets, I know how you feel. But never fear! You can do just as much good by spreading the word. Share on Facebook, tweet about it on Twitter, or write your own stirring blog post about the general awesomeness of crowdfunding and independent local publishing (with a link back to the Kickstarter, naturally).

Whatever you do, please know that I am grateful to have all of you cheering me on and giving me a helping hand on this strange creative journey. Thank you.


March of time, back to school edition

First, the official book stuff update:

The kickstarter fundraising campaign for book 4 “The Ember and the Knife” will launch next Monday. So clear off a little room on the ol’ credit card, stretch your retweeting/facebook sharing muscles, and get ready to cheer the project on. Go go go! I’ll post updates here as the thing rolls along, and hopefully we hit the goal well before the end date (beginning of October).

And now for something completely unrelated: my boy is growing up and I’m trying to handle that.

Yesterday was day one of Grade Three. Grade three is the point where my own childhood memories start to become cohesive. Instead of just flashes of random moments, I can recall full situations and the people within. Should I compare my experiences to my child’s? I’ll give that a complicated ‘yes’ as an answer, with a long list of provisos (provisos available upon request).

And to be honest, my sense of time passing and his growing older hit me the day before school started. I was out for a walk around Springbank Park, and as I passed Storybook Gardens, I realized it had been at least a year since Max and I went there. It used to be our weekly destination, back when he was wee. Now he’s too tall for a lot of the activities, and too old to enjoy others.

To top it all off, I let him walk to school on his own this morning. This is a trip that is exactly 2 and a half blocks in length, with one 3-way stop to cross, so we’re not talking about the world’s most dangerous excursion. But there’s still something scary about not confirming with my own eyes, for sure, that he has set foot on school property. I know the school would call me if he didn’t turn up. I know he’s a smart kid. And I know this is part of growing up. I have to get used to trusting him to handle the unknown world and all of the surprises and obstacles it throws at him. I can’t helicopter parent him forever (though lord knows I want to).


Looking for your opinion. Yes, you!

Hey, remember when I used to talk about writing and my current project, the “Spellbound Railway” series? Boy, that takes me back. It feels like it’s been a million years since I actually finished off the 4th book and started planning how and when to launch the thing. Then summer came along, bringing with it a host of distractions, challenges and detours that have kept me entirely occupied with everything that isn’t my writing. But enough with the excuses. Back to work!

2016-07-22 13.43.50Surprise! Not only did I finish book 4 (The Ember and The Knife), I also did a newly revised version of the previous 3 books. I am very excited to have these new versions ready to go.

Okay, I’ll be honest: they are almost ready to go. There are 2 more things that need to happen before the big book launch:

  1. Raise the funds for an inventory of printed copies. That’s right, I’m going to do another Kickstarter. If you’re not sure what the heck a ‘Kickstarter’ is, check out this link.  It worked out really well last time, and my previous Kickstarter backers (the wonderful people that they are) made the whole project fun and productive. I would love to hear from you, dear readers, about what you’d like to see as rewards for Kickstarter backers. Just post your ideas, comments and concerns in the comments section below.
  2. I need to know one specific thing from everyone who has read any of the first 3 books: what character do you want to read more about? It can be a main character, or a minor one that has more of their story to tell. (Spoiler: the character that most people want to read about will likely be the star of a new short story as a Kickstarter award).

Time and Life and Gord

Don’t you wanna see how it ends?
When the door is just starting to open?

– “Depression Suite” by The Tragically Hip

RELAX, I am not dying. Let’s keep that right out in front. But this post is about death. Death creeping around in the corners, haunting the shadows, biding its time. You know the deal. It doesn’t care what you have left to do. No great unfinished work will keep the reaper at bay. Your time will run out before your art does.

It was Bowie’s last video that clued me in to this. Take a look at this still frame from it:

bowie desk


This scene has Bowie scribbling feverishly, as an ornately decorated skull sits on his desk and watches impassively. At the end, Bowie walks backwards into the wardrobe in the background and closes the door. He’s bursting with new ideas and new art, but the time runs out and the door closes.

The conceit of the young (and the foolish) is that ideas are rare. Each must be guarded jealously and hoarded. But they aren’t. Ideas are cheap. Every ‘new’ idea has been thought of a thousand times before. There are only 12 musical notes. There are only 7 story plots. The rareity, the preciousness, is in bringing the idea to life. Effort, willpower, hard work. And the real limiting factor is time.

When Bowie died, I thought about time. Those ideas I had planned for the future had more weight than ever before. Having 6+ books roughly mapped out on my timeline suddenly felt ominously like a race against time.

And then last week, we found out that Gord is dying. (That’s Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip, if somehow you didn’t know. He’s been a part of our shared Canadian experience for so long that I think it’s okay to be on a first name basis with him.) He’s got a terminal brain tumour, and he’s going out for one more tour with the fellas. The door is closing on him, closing quick, but he’s going to squeeze in a little more art before it shuts all the way.

Everybody’s been quoting “Courage” back at him in support, which is a hell of a thing to do, since the song “Courage” is about suicide more or less. I’d prefer to hold up his lyrics to “Depression Suite” as a flag of support and consolation. Depression Suite (live). The words are about making art, to me anyway. The fear that making whatever you make is meaningless:

“And I’m thinking just in passing
What if this song does nothing?”

And then finding the only real answer you can hold to:

Don’t you wanna see how it ends?
When the door is just starting to open?”

Curiosity is the saving grace of every artist. When your creations grow beyond what you originally intended. As your ability awakens and the stories get better and better. That door just started to open for me. I want to see how it ends. So Gord, thanks for that.

“Are you going through something?
Then I am too”

We’re with you, Gord.