Onward to 2016

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me

(Here I am rocking my new glasses)

I didn’t spend a lot of time blogging in 2015.

I’m of mixed feelings on it because I’d rather be writing something new that might possibly manage to get published and frankly, I’ve been a very cranky person for about a year and a half now – not sure why. I’m trying to change that.

I did, however, complete a new book which is now with my agent. I think it’s very good. Possibly the best thing I’ve written so far. We’ve got one project we’ve been trying to sell but it’s urban fantasy and that’s a tough one these days. That said, I’m thankful to the good folks at Rebelight Publishing for making my first foray into middle grade by publishing my little story about a girl, her hippie granny and missing cats  in the fall, so that was good news. It’s been hard as hell to get reviews for TO CATCH A CAT THIEF. I’m not entirely sure why. I’ve sent physical copies to traditional media here in Canada but there hasn’t been a nibble of interest which is a bit of a puzzle to me. The whole issue of discoverability for an author has been on my mind a lot lately and I honestly can’t figure out what makes people take notice of a new book. I could write a book filled with hints and tips from so many different writers both traditionally published and self-published about how they made their books a success, and I’ve tried a few of them but it’s been a hard slog.

I don’t believe blog tours work one bit and a number of author friends of mine are of the same opinion. Hiring a publicist might be a good option for some but we authors aren’t exactly swimming in cash these days. I think I would have hired a publicist for my latest book but I just can’t afford to do it. So you try to get the word out the best way you can in between writing and working your day job. Six of my seven books have been traditionally published. I have rights back to SHADE FRIGHT, FUNERAL PALLOR, UNSEEN WORLD and I’ve self published them. I also have the rights back to POLTERGEEKS and STUDENT BODIES and I hope to get them out there as reprints. There was to be a third book – END GAMES. I’d like to finish it but I’m not going to until I know where the first two books stand.

To date, my best selling books are MARSHALL CONRAD – A SUPERHERO TALE & THE NORTH. Both are self-published, the first being a reprint and the second being an original work. I actually sell enough of both books that I get real money in the form of a cheque from Amazon every month. Like, more than enough to buy a few tanks of gas and fill the fridge with groceries. The irony is that I don’t do any book promotion for these titles. Nothing. Zip. Nada.

So – stuff that I promote doesn’t sell. Stuff that I self-publish and don’t promote does sell. I truly must be living in Bizarro World.

I started a writer’s group here in Saskatoon about two years ago. There’s a core group of about 8-10 of us and they’re a great bunch of people. This year we self-published an anthology. The goal was to get everyone writing outside of their comfort zone and for those participants who submitted stories, I have to say Well Done! Well Done Indeed! You worked hard at something. You committed to a project and deadlines and editing and everything that goes with getting published. Some even discovered they were better writers than they gave themselves credit for. Go buy our little anthology, won’t you?

So, not the most inspiring end of the year blog posting. I keep hoping to write that elusive breakthrough novel. Maybe we will with the new one. It’s dark fantasy – sort of Kill Bill’s The Bride meets The Sixth Sense meets Sons of Anarchy. A train wreck of a protagonist and a shock ending. I’m quite proud of it. I’m very blessed to have the world’s most supportive wife. She puts up with my weird writing hours and my bouts of melancholy that I do battle with whenever I feel like I’m slipping.

What am I working on right now? I’m experimenting with a detective novel but it’s not really lighting my world on fire. Just doesn’t feel right. I might shelve it for a while. I have another project I”m about 20K words into now – a YA detective story featuring a brother-sister sleuth team. They hunt serial killers.

Anyway, that’s it for 2015. If you’ve been following my sporadic blog posts, thanks you. I’ll try to write more in 2016. If you bought one of my books this year, thank you, thank you, thank you!

My best to you and yours in the new year.

 

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Launched!

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Here’s a quick blog post with some pictures from this past Monday’s launch of my new middle grade book TO CATCH A CAT THIEF. Thanks so much to McNally Robinson Booksellers who are such huge HUGE supporters of local authors. There’s something going on every night at this bookstore and the one in Winnipeg as well! Thanks as well to members of Saskatoon Writer’s Meetup, (my writer’s group) who came out to cheer me on – Nicole Rimmer, Courteny Piech, USA Today Bestselling Author Rachel Astor and David Buglass. If you look closely you will see a tiny little woman with dark curly hair – that’s my 81 year old mum, the real Grandma Bev. (Who actually wasn’t a hippie back in the 1960’s. She was basically the person who chased hippies with her car.) Finally, thanks to the good folks at Rebel Light Publishing for making my seventh book happen in the first place. Oh, and Edward Willett for telling me to submit to them.

We’re getting some nice reviews, and of course you can follow the blog tour to win a copy! It ends this week.

Onward!

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It’s A Giveaway!

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Cat Thief Twitter

I’m giving away five (5) copies of my forthcoming middle grade debut and all you have to do to win is:

Post the above image on your Facebook page
Post the above image on your Twitter feed using #pleasesavethekitties
Mention the blog tour which begins on Monday November 2nd.
ToCatchACatThiefTour

 

 

 

 

 

Sound cool? Okay … GO!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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To Catch A Cat Thief – Book Trailer

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Cat Thief Twitter

 

 

 

You can pre-order here. Please, won’t someone think of the kitties?

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Review: THE COPPER PROMISE by Jen Williams

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I picked up The Copper Promise not because I follow author Jen Williams on Twitter (and you should too) but because of two things:

  1. Big ass dragon on the cover.
  2. I like stories where there is payback.

I don’t quite know where to begin in this review because there is a hell of a lot going on in the book. We have a trio of characters, two are hired swords and their employer, a certain nobleman named Lord Frith (who has a chip on his shoulder the size of a large asteroid) heading into a very dangerous place where you don’t really come out alive…. and yet they somehow do. And this all happens very quickly so what I think Jen Williams has done nicely (and perhaps one of the reasons I don’t read as much epic fantasy as I should) is to weave the world building and the character’s motivations together by means of action. A hell of a lot of action, real fast. Within the first handful of chapters.

This is a formula I quite like and as a result, I was drawn into a story that is very broad in scope, yet somehow manages to keep the action flowing while maintaining a great deal of reader buy-in to each of the three main characters. And bad guys? Holy crap, does Williams write good bad guys, particularly Fane, who is a dirt bag of the highest order and someone you want killed of ASAP because he’s such a huge prick!

Sebastian is a wonderful grounding character for the over the top Wydrin who basically wants to stab every bad guy she sees in the face with her claws. Oh no, this girl isn’t into swords at all. She’s into daggers which means really nasty close quarter combat. She’s a great character who in another author’s hands might have come off as a bit too over the top. She has her moments of insight and the nature of her relationship with Sebastian is such that you can’t help but want her in your corner no matter what. Where Sebastian is sworn to duty, Wydrin is sworn to raise a little hell. I quite liked that.

Of course when you are on a quest, bad things tend to happen and in this book, we see the trio inadvertently release a great evil, namely the aforementioned big ass dragon. Oh, and her daughters. An unstoppable force that lay waste to everything in their path. They kill people, by the way. Everyone. Big or small, fat or tall, old or young. (The daughters are very complex characters in their own right. Not human, but seemingly titillated by humanity in the same way a child looks through a frost covered window at a train set during the holiday season – just before that same child stomps on all their toys in a violent rage come Boxing Day.)

The stakes are high throughout the book. There are very few moments of down time for our flawed but fascinating heroes. Often they take one step forward and two steps back but as you become immersed in the story, you can see how the characters learn to rely on each other.

The quality of Williams’ writing as fantastic. Her knack for descriptive prose is admirable and she’s the kind of writer I like – one who can paint a picture in a single sentence instead of five paragraphs. (Because some epic fantasy authors love the sound of their own world building they need to give each new locale, person, motive or plot point its own chapter.)

Overall, I highly recommend this book because it’s just plain fun. The reader gets a wild ride through a world that is as original as the characters who live there. A great read. Go get it!

 

Here’s where Jen lives on the Internets

Here’s where you can buy her book!

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