What if Donald Trump had been born middle class?

I mean sure, it’s easy to be a billionaire when you inherit a billion dollar fortune.

But let’s do a little experiment.  Let’s ask ourselves if Donald Trump had not been born into fame and fortune, if he hadn’t been a millionaire by the age of two and a half, if he had been required to make his own way in life, without the gigantic advantages.  Would he have been another Jeff Bezos or William Gates? Or would he have been just a regular guy?

Let’s assume that this alternate Trump, born to the middle class, had the same personality and personal qualities? Donald Trump is barely literate, a poor reader, almost no impulse control, full of manic impulses, lazy, loses interest, perpetually narcissistic and selfish, engaged in self aggrandizement, unwilling or unable to learn from mistakes, This isn’t an attack. It’s not flattering, but these are all traits that he has exhibited, and are the benchmarks of his erratic business career.

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Lorina Stephens and her DREAMS OF THE MOON

I met Lorina Stephens a few years ago, back when she was the driving force behind Five River’s Publishing, one of the most dynamic of the Canadian small presses.  On top of that, she’s a freelance journalist for national and regional print media, been a festival organizer, publicist, lecturer on many historical topics from textiles to domestic technologies, teaches, and and artist. I’ve always been impressed by her razor sharp mind, her sharp wit, keen judgment and the fundamental human decency which has shaped her outlook.  So of course, I was thrilled to discover that she’s a talented and delightful writer of books and stories as well.  Her novels include Shadow Song (2008), From Mountains of Ice (2009), Caliban (2018) and The Rose Guardian (2019). I am honoured and thrilled to be able to have her as a guest on my blog to celebrate her second collection of short stories, Dreams of the Moon.

The last collection of short stories I published was in 2008. It’s an eclectic mix which I entitled And the Angels Sang, named for the lead story. To my delight, it’s met with quite a bit of positive reaction from both readers and reviewers.

In the ensuing years, I’ve crafted a number of other short stories in between operating a publishing house and all the demands of being an administrator in our other business, one which pays the bills. A lot has happened during that time: our son married his life-buddy, three major surgeries, a failed attempt at elder care, renovating this old stone house which was built c1847, and as I write this, into the second year of a global pandemic.

And somewhere in all that still writing, still exploring ideas and what-ifs. I do have to admit a reluctance to writing short fiction. The literary form seems so restrictive to me, perhaps more having to do with the fact I have too much to say and want to make an epic out of everything. But short story writing is good discipline.

Having said that, I’m giving you 10 short works of fiction in this collection, spanning the boundaries of science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, magic realism and absurd fantastica. Apparently, I don’t much like writing in just one genre, either. Creative fences drive me batshit crazy, although I do very much appreciate fences around this sanctuary we are privileged to call home. But there is a theme to this collection, a common thread I think you will find through all the stories. What it is, I will leave up to you to decipher, and thus we will have a silent communication.

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John Carpay, you’re a disgrace

Mostly this is a writing blog. But occasionally I write about other things.  It seems to me that if I’ve got this plaform and I’m paying for it, I should get to have a few opinions.  Today’s opinion is about John Carpay, a disgrace to the practice of law.

Why do I feel the need to call out a second rate Alberta lawyer who I’ve never met?

Well, I’ll tell you. Every writer needs a day job. I’m a lawyer. And I’m not going to be flippant here.  I believe in it. I believe in something called Justice. In law school, my fellow students laughed at me, but I was a believe. I believed in the social contract, I believed in our innate duty to be decent, to be moral to each other. I believed that the practice of lawyer was to implement and negotiate that social contract, to help people in need, to help build a better world. It mattered to me. When I became a lawyer, I wore the robes, and I signed my name into the rolls. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, I became an officer of the court. And I believed that this was a noble and honourable calling, that carried with it a duty of integrity and ethics. It has been touchstone of my life.

Every now and then, I run across lawyers who basically wipe their ass on the profession, Dangerfield, a prosecutor who abused his power, Shead a commercial lawyer who helped swindle innocent people. These people offend me. They’re not just bad, they’ve sodomized the integrity of a calling, a cause, a profession I’ve given my life to. They’re abominations to me.

So what did John Carpay do?

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When Words Collide: Writing Alternate Histories

Hi, just a quick note, I will be program participant, panelists, something at the Alberta Writers and Readers Festival, When Words Collide.

I’m doing Writing Alternate Histories, with Celeste Peters, R.J.M. Dawson and M.E. Powell, at 3:00 pm, on Friday, August  13, 2021.  This year the Festival is a free online event.

The Festival is huge running from Thursday, August 12 through to Sunday, August 15, 2021.  It’s an annual thing. Usually its held live in person, and it gets pretty booked up.  Having it online and free means it’s open to everyone.

This is amazing. 12 tracks of programming going on each hour. That’s 240 programming events, plus interactive stuff, pitch sessions, blue pencil sessions, workshops, you name it.  And it’s FREE.  So register and join.

WWC 2021 – Events/Festival_Program.php (whenwordscollide.org)

And in the future, if you’re a writer or reader that plans to find themselves in Calgary in August…  make plans to check it out.

And if you’re already attending, check out my panel!  As to Alternate History, I figure I’m qualified, between Axis of Andes, Bear Cavalry, Dawn of Cthulhu, The New Doctor and the Fall of Atlantis.

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New World War

Wow. Been a while since I posted.  Luckily no one is reading, so the heat is off.  It’s been a busy month.

First up – I’ve completed two writing workshops for the Manitoba Writers Guild.  The first one was Writing Compelling Characters in June.  That was a tough one, I’d done a version of this workshop for Keycon but it had gone fairly disastrously. This really did feel like working without a net, but it went really well.  Subsequently, in July, I did a three hour special – Copyright/Publishng Contracts Feedback was extremely positive. I donated my fees for these workshops back to the Manitoba Writers Guild, and the workshops have been recorded for future use.

Currently, I’ve jumped head first into the search for a Literary Agent.  This took a week of preparation, working on query letters, synopsis of different lengths, getting the writing samples together. This weekend, I took the plunge. Let’s see how it works out this time.

The big news is NEW WORLD WAR sequel to AXIS OF ANDES!   Yes, we have the continuation and conclusion of the epic saga of WW2 in South America.  The multi-front war between Ecuador, Chile and Peru, slowly but relentlessly spills over into almost every country in South America.  The jungle war rages and turns into Indian Revolts, Bolivia falls into Civil war. Argentina and Colombia meddle and waiting in the wings a hidden power waits to make itself known

I’m thrilled with the way it’s all turned out and come together…

Onto the next project.  I’ve got a couple of novels to finish writing, a bunch of short stories to write, two more collections of stories to upload, a vampire novel to release, and a third Who-book.  And I’m sure I’m missing a few things…  Oh yeah, seriously update the website.

Amazon Hot List

Hey everyone!  Axis of Andes made the list.  We’re on “Hot New Releases in Alternate History Science Fiction

https://www.amazon.com/gp/new-releases/books/16275

Yay!!!!

More seriously? Yeah, #55 on the second page. Big whoop. Also note the rather narrow subject matter – a subgenre of a subgenre of speculative fiction

I promise you, it’s not going to my head.

On the other hand, I’ve actually sold a few books, and I’ve got a really good review. And filling out the list are powerhouse writers like Charles Stross, William Deitz, Ken Follet, S.M. Stirling.  And most of the books on the list are from the big six majors, or the medium level second tier publishers. And the list goes to a hundred books and I’m nowhere near the bottom.  So, it’s not bad..

So in the big scheme of things, maybe it’s not much ado. But it’s something, and it’s kind of nice. So I’m happy.

This is what being a writer is – mostly, you get rejected, or simply ignored, your effort to make a mark goes unremarked. And every now and then, you get a few crumbs like that.  You learn to appreciate them. And maybe make them last.

The Grindhouse Madman

I grew up working at a Drive-In, B-Movies are in my blood, cyborgs, ninjas, Charles Bronson flicks, gritty Italian giallos about unstoppable yet sleazy tough guys, careening through life like human car crashes, goofy monsters and the inept heroes floundering after them. My brother was a huge fan of Mack Bolan books, I used to collect them for him. So with that grindhouse sensibility, how could I not love the crazed stylings of I.D. Russell.  I first ran across him running a table at a local comic convention, and I quickly became a fan of his altar ego, the demented, unstoppable cop, Frank, from River City, a human engine of destruction, whether he’s facing off against Robot Mounties, Japanese Ninjas, Colombian Drug Lords or the entre at a Red Lobster. Firmly tongue in cheek, his work is full of inspired, hyperviolent lunacy. So check him out, it’s worth it…

I have a compulsion.

I need to be doing something creative.

I’ve made two feature films and have a dozen scripts that I’d like to produce next. I’ve written over thirty novels and published seven. I’ve got lots more story ideas swirling around in my head or illegibly written in point form on scraps of paper all over the house. I run two youtube channels: one a sock puppet movie review parody show and the other an outlet for whatever random short film or goofy sketch idea that crosses my mind.

But I also actively train in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and previously studied Hapkido (where I received a black belt). I’ve dabbled in boxing, tae kwon do, yoga, karate, judo, and aikido. I’ve competed in tournaments, done demonstrations at schools and folklorama and while I’v3 engaged in some pretty intense sparring in class, I’ve never been in a fight. (I’d like to keep it that way.)

So I’m busy. Real busy. The thing is, I can’t sit back on my laurels, (not that I have many in any scheme of things.) There’s always another project to work on, another corner to turn, another thing to try.

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Worldbuilding and other Workshops

Hey Everyone!  I’m doing workshops for the Manitoba Writer’s Guild
* World Building – May 15, 2021
* Creating Compelling Characters – June 19, 2021
* Copyright and the Basics of Publishing Contracts – July 17
The workshops will be held through Zoom.  Supporting materials and the workshop notes will be provided as pdfs through email.
To support the writing community, I’m donating my workshop fees back to the Manitoba Writers Guild.  Writing is a lonely craft, and it’s an uphill one for many of us. The Guild helps us connect with each other, it offers community, support, resources and programs.  If you’re a Writer in Manitoba, I’d happily recommend that you sign up for a membership with the Guild.  If outside of Manitoba, then I suggest you look up whatever exists for a local writers association or organization.
In the meantime, visit the Manitoba Writer’s Guild at their website.

https://www.mbwriter.mb.ca/new-virtual-workshops/

About the Workshops….

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2021 – Writing Projects, Big Plans

Never say die. So what have I got lined up for 2021?  Four, maybe six new Ebooks, a hardcore quest to find an Agent and break through with a Traditional publisher, more contest, awards submissions, workshops, panels, convention appearances, and a major effort at marketing and promotion.  So, let me tell you about what I’ve got in the pipeline:

Lexx Unauthorized: Series Four, Little Blue Marble – the final volume of the chronicles of the LEXX television series, the end of the series, the fall of Salter Street Films, and the decline of Canadian production in a new era of corporate profiteering. LEXX was a unique creation, a Canadian produced, written and starring Space Opera from Halifax, Nova Scotia by an upstart B-movie and regional television programming company. The show had amazing visuals and a sense of surrealism, as much influenced by Jodorowski and Barberella as by Star Trek and Star Wars. Back when the show was in production, I was invited by the creator, Paul Donovan, to write a book. I jumped on that, spending three years and thousands of dollars on the project, travelling across the country repeatedly interviewing everyone in sight. It was a labour of love. Ultimately the book deal fell through back then. Frustrated, I just wrote the book anyway, the way I wanted to… without any consideration of actual publication or publishers demands. Years later, after a flood, a marital breakdown, three major moves, two hard drive crashes, a career change I rediscovered the original manuscript on an unmarked floppy disk. I figured that the traditional publishing marketplace has zero interest in a book about an obscure cult TV series over a decade old. So I decided to upload it as a series of ebooks, one for each series. It’s a huge work – all four volumes together come close to 400,000 words. This is the end of the series, the final volume. I’m happy with it.

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2020 In Review – Writing Ups and Downs

This is a bit belated, sorry about that.  It’s been kicking around in my drafts file.

2020 has come and gone, and frankly, none of us are going to miss it.  Between the Coronaclypse and all its attendant melt downs, the American election fiasco and Trump’s appalling conduct, wildfires, floods, murder hornets and everything else, I’m just as happy to be done with the whole thing.

But I figured I’d take stock of how the writing career has gone.

On the Positive Side, Seven New Ebooks

  • Bear Cavalry, A True (Not!) History of the Icelandic Bears – alternate history novel told as a Morgan Spurlock documentary.
  • Lexx Unauthorized, Series 2 – The Light at the End of the Universe
  • The Fall of Atlantis – a quartet of alternate history/speculative novellettes
  • There Are No Doors in Dark Places, a collection of horror stories
  • Lexx Unauthorized, Series 3 – It’s Hot and it’s Cold
  • What Devours Always Hunger, a collection of horror stories.
  • The New Doctor a media based alternate history novel, uploaded to Wattpad.

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