The Pitchening!

Actually, it should be ‘Writer’s Idol,’ but I am inexplicably fond of a James Franco/Danny McBride fantasy/quest movie called ‘Your Highness.’ If you’ve never heard of it, don’t worry about it, it’s probably for the best. But it features an evil wizard who wants to bring about doomsday by deflowering the Princess, a process he calls the ‘****ening.’ So, I like ‘The Pitchening.

And just now, on the subject of this blog, it occurs to me that maybe knowing more about my process is not a good thing.

Anyhow, here’s the deal. The Luck is coming out on August 1 (you’ll get tired of hearing that), so I need to get on the old promotional trail. That includes conventions, and I suppose that conventions include Winnipeg’s oldest and most respected Sci Fi Convention, Keycon.

So I’ve signed up for Keycon, bought my membership and all. I’d have done it anyway, Steve Erickson, the Malazan Empire guy, is the guest this year, and he’s a friend, we were in a writers group together back in the day (seriously – look up the dedication in Gardens of the Moon, there we all are). So it will be nice to see him, and maybe see if he’ll give me a plug for old time’s sake.

I’m also going to try and get on a few panels. I like panels, I’m good at them.

It’s peculiar. I have no social skills. No small talk at all, my idea of small talk is to make eye contact and stare at someone until they go away. Making conversation is excruciating. Oddly, that works for me, because apparently I’m a terrific and sympathetic listener. But really, no social skills. Find it, fix it, build it, kill it, I’m right there – object oriented programming, task based, achievement focused, process driven, learn, do, goal, object, closure completion – that’s me. Having a conversation? That’s sometimes excruciating. Sometimes I’m kind of like a robot, but with less personality (apologies to robots).

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Down on my Luck (pun!)

Red letter day – February 17, 2020. I just finished the galleys for The Luck last night, and sent them off to the publisher.

February 10, 2020 – Cover Art theme got sorted out and agreed.

January 18, 2020 – Blurb. Which is just a peculiar word. But actually might be genuinely important to help sell the novel.

January 16, 2020 – I did the official updated bio. I managed to include this web site. Honesstly though, I’m not really interesting, so I’m not sure why I need a bio at all.

January 10, 2020 – I sent a couple of excerpts from ‘The War,’ the third novel in the trilogy to my publisher, Lorina, at Five Rivers. That struck me as a bit optimistic, I’m not really sure The Luck will end up justifying a third novel.  I’m not sure that the sales of The Mermaid’s Tale justified The Luck. This is a business, the book has to sell after all, and if it doesn’t…. But I appreciate the faith in me.

January 9, 2020 – Wrote the dedication and forward.

December 1, 2019 – Delivered the final edits and revisions.

I’m not sure what else is left to do on my end, as far as the technical requirements go. I do have to say that it’s been lovely working with Five Rivers Publications, and with Lorina. I’ve been invited to have a lot more input and involvement in the the technical issues than a lot of major publishers will give, or so I understand.

I don’t think, for instance, that major publishers really allow for the author to engage with and collaborate with the artist in terms of working out the ideas and themes of the cover – from what I’ve read and been told it’s more a ‘you take what we give you, and you’ll like it.’ Same with the blurbs. So that’s really nice.

Oh! Also, I have a release date!

August 1, 2020

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The Mermaid’s Tale: We Got Reviews!!!

I got reviews. Not of The Luck, not yet. I’m hoping for those, and I’m planning on running it by the few famous (semi-famous?) people I know in hopes of getting a plug.

But for The Mermaid’s Tale, I have reviews. Normally, I just stay away from those things. It’s a ‘no win’ situation. If you get a bad review, well it ruins your whole day. If you get a good review, then you end up believing it, you get a swelled head, start thinking you’re special, and it’s just feeding your ego. I’ve got enough of an ego, maybe too much of one. If you get a mediocre review… well, who cares? So there’s no good outcome from reading your reviews, I try not to.

But here I am, trying to sell the book to you, and promote my upcoming book, The Luck, and hell, even sell you on all/any of my other writing. I’ve got a whole web site and blog devoted to it – so hey, narcissism central!

So anyway, I thought I’d delve into reviews and share some excerpts of comments with you. Not the entire review (unless they’re really short), because that’s the property of the author.


Michael Fletcher, author of Beyond Redemption.

“This book is violent and brutal and haunting and beautiful. If I could give this a sixth star I would.”  

I think that this is actually the official plug for The Mermaid’s Tale. I suspect that Fletcher is the most semi-famous person to have reviewed me. Fletcher is actually an absolutely brilliant writer, definitely out of my league. I picked up Beyond Redemption on a trip to Australia and was absolutely rivetted reading it back home. It was just amazing, a powerhouse tour de force of imagination, horror, empathy and sweetness. I was in awe. So seriously, this is a writer that you need to go well out of your way to find.

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Free Stuff: Lesbians of Mars

I’m what you might call a compulsive writer.  Or convulsive. Or something.

I write because I have to.  I’ve quit now and then, but I come back to it. Sometimes I just end up abandoning it because life gets in the way, but sooner or later I come back to it.

It’s not necessarily even fiction. I just like writing. Movie reviews, quirky little essays, ruminations and reflections, odd little things – I’ve written reviews of imaginary movies, discoursed on the ecology of nonexistent animals.

I remember as a teenager, I built an entire fictional fantasy world, Loranth:  maps, geography, races and animals, populations, everything.  Never did anything with it, never showed it to anyone, I just got satisfaction from doing it.

I’ve done stuff that I’ve never shared with anyone.  Often because I know I’ll be the only person interested in something so esoteric or off the wall.  A regular person will look at it, and just not see the point.

Anyway, a few years ago, I was browsing the web and I found this topographic map of Mars.  For those of you who aren’t up on your NASA, Mars is just a cratered reddish brown glob of a globe.  There’s darker, there’s lighter, but it’s pretty dull.

Then about twenty years ago, they put a satellite up around the planet, a Global Surveyor, I think, that photographed the whole planet in extreme detail.  I mean extreme detail – this was a level of resolution which would show up a buffalo as a couple of pixels.  Not bad for twenty-thousand  miles up.  So any kind of elaborate structure – a boulder for instance, the size of a house, would show up.

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Rush Limbaugh’s Not Dead

Normally, I’m not all that interested in commenting on politics.  I have opinions. Steven Harper’s muzzling of science and wholesale destruction of research and evidence is absolutely heinous. Donald Trump is a repugnant human being. And anyone who supported Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court is an irredeemable moral degenerate.  I’m not going to showboat it, but I’m not backing down from it.  If that’s a problem for someone… it’s not my problem.

Vaccinations work.  Manmade global climate change is a real thing.  The people who deny it are either crazy or dishonest.  That’s not politics, that’s common sense.

Which takes me to Rush Limbaugh. He’s recently announced Lung cancer.

Let me first say that I’ve lost several family members to Lung Cancer.  And more to other kinds of cancer. I would not wish that on anyone, not even Limbaugh. It’s a horrible ugly slow way to die, and I wish him a recovery which is unlikely, or in lieu of that, I wish him a speedy painless death.

Unfortunately for him, it is likely that Rush Limbaugh will die. The survival rate is 5%, and Limbaugh is an older, appallingly obese man in extremely poor physical condition with a history of alcohol, drug addiction, dissolution and waste. That’s not really a good recipe for pulling through.

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Free Stuff: “Absolute Genius” The New Doctor

I’m told, in this ‘Brave New World of Writing,’ that it is marketing uber alles. I need a brand. I need to be a brand. I need a platform. I need to create content, lots of free content, to give away, so that people will pay for some other content.  How charming.

So anyway, here goes.

If you look up some place called Wattpad, I offer you an novel length freebee in many installments.

The New Doctor: A Doctor Who Alternate History

You’re thinking to yourself, “Wait, this is fanfiction, I don’t read fanfiction!”

Or you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t even know/care about Doctor Who, why would I want to read this?”

My god, but you’re a ‘hard to please’ bunch!

Let me assure you – The New Doctor: A Doctor Who Alternate History, is not actually fanfiction, and it is not really about Doctor Who! Unless of course, you want it to be, in which case it is. It’s a Schrodinger’s cat kind of thing, it both is and it isn’t.

Let me explain.

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The Rage Against the Woke

So, I was having a conversation with someone the other day, and they were railing on about ‘woke’ media and ‘SJW’s and ‘Mary Sues,’ ‘political correctness’ and the whole nine yards.

Then he said something that got me.

He said, “Why do they have to have all these political agendas. Why can’t they just tell a good story without politics like in the original Star Trek.”

I burst out laughing. I couldn’t stop it. It just came roaring out of me. One second, we’re having a conversation, the next second, I’m bent over laughing uncontrollably. I was just taken by surprise.

Because the original Star Trek has an episode all about racism, involving white/black people being racist to black/white people. They did stories about racism. About sexism. About overpopulation. Pollution. The Cold War. They did everything.

Not only did they have all these political agendas, but they were absolutely ham handed about it every step of the way. They were totally anvillicious. Star Trek always wore its politics on its chest, and was as subtle as a bull in a china shop.

So, I’m just laughing helplessly, I can’t stop it, and he’s looking at me like I’ve grown an extra head. He’s trying to decide whether he should be offended.

And I make it worse. I say….

“Have you actually ever even watched Star Trek?”

That’s it, he’s offended.

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About those Bears

Is that an awesome poster or what? It just radiates demented testosterone. Crazy stuff. You see it on the internet making the rounds. I don’t know who did it, but it’s cool. The idea has been around for a while. There’s a Gary Larson cartoon about a western saloon with a saddled grizzly bear tethered next to the horsetrough – the implication being that the rider is really tough.

Bear Cavalry.

Yep, I wrote an entire book about Bear Cavalry.

That’s kind of peculiar. Even more peculiar, I really want you to buy it.

But here we are, and I thought, this might be a good subject to use to talk about my process as a writer. So I thought I would dissect The Bear Cavalry, A (Not) True History of the Icelandic Bear and explore how that came about.

I find, as a writer, that I’m kind of nihilistic. I’m not sure that’s exactly the right word, but it will do.

Basically, as a writer, I’m not chasing an audience. I just write what I really want to write about. Simple as that. Does it interest me? Is it fun. I mean, let’s face, it’s not as if anyone in the world is sitting there waiting for my next story or novel. I’m cool with that. If they aren’t, then I’m free, aren’t I? I can just happily do whatever I want! Whenever I want! Yay me!

So what motivated me to write about bears, apart from that very awesome piece of art?

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Whats Up Doctor?

Well, I’ve just watched the best episode of Doctor Who I’ve seen in a couple of years.

So I think this is probably a good time to talk about my relationship to that program. After all, I’m an acknowledged expert on some tiny corner of the Doctor’s Universe.

To start with:  The Doctor is an alien time traveller who wanders through the universe, past present and future, having adventures, getting into situations, rescuing people and writing wrongs. Because he or she is an alien, he/she periodically dies and regenerates into a new body. This is a very convenient trick, since it allows the show to keep replacing the actors who play the Doctor. The Doctor has a particular fondness for Earth, and usually brings along an Earthling, or a succession of Earthlings as travelling companions. The Doctor is a bit of an eccentric, his time machine is stolen and it doesn’t quite work right all the time, and for peculiar reasons, it’s stuck in the shape of an antique English police telephone booth.

And if doesn’t that sound like a pretty dubious premise, I don’t know what is.

What it amounted to where conventionally dressed Brits wandering around a shabby blue box, against painted backdrops and cardboard sets, pretending that the cockney’s accosting them were aliens from the far future.

Yes, it really was that dubious.

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My Terrible Mistake

I published my first story when I was thirteen. I have that in common with Ray Bradbury.

Actually, I published two of them. So take that Bradbury!

That’s probably the only thing I have in common with him. Maybe there’s other things. Maybe we both don’t like pineapples. Stuff like that. But really, as a writer, that’s probably the only thing.

It’s not really anything extraordinary. I was in Junior High School. In Language Arts, we had a teacher named Misses Emery, a red haired, portly matron of very fixed opinions, who made us write stories.

I did this thing called ‘The Monster Race.’ Basically, aliens come to earth, and after a brief friendly first contact, they start reading up on us and discover we are horrible people. But it’s too late, by the time they figure out we’re bad news, we slaughter them, reverse engineer their spaceship, and now we’re out in the Universe, spreading like a virus.

I suspect it wasn’t especially brilliant. It’s the sort of thing a precocious thirteen year old with a cynical streak might write in the early 1970’s, or … the 1930’s. But she was impressed enough by it that she sent it to the local newspaper, the Dalhousie News, and they published it.


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