Just hit 50K in this year’s NaNoWriMo!


I’m in a happy mood this morning because I passed the 50,000 word mark for this year’s NaNoWriMo brining my total word count for THE NORTH to just shy of 74,000 words. I’m under a self-imposed deadline for my YA post zombie apocalypse survival story with a goal of getting the second draft completed and off to my agent by Christmas. Very simply, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo. (Because I am woefully undisciplined.)

What have I learned?

Well first, I think that doing NaNoWriMo this year has lit a fire under my ass to dig into this manuscript. I’ve been putting it off and putting it off for months now, so it really gave be a major league motivational reboot which was just what I needed.

The second thing that I learned is that it puts you on an achievable pace with measurable goals. I’d like to figure out how to download and use their word count calculator because when you see the graph showing your cumulative word count total over a period of twenty three days, you feel compelled to sit down at the computer and just do it.

The final thing that I’ve learned is that while my outline gave me an idea of what I wanted to happen in the story, the act of digging in at the same time every day to churn out a story gave me a new flow for things. It also provided me with a number of ideas that I could use to enhance the outline and make the story that much better and genuine.

It’s been a fun ride this month. I’m not entirely sleep deprived because I limited myself to two hours or so of writing a day with the exception of last night and this morning where I pumped out 5000 words to put me over the top. In the process, I’ve met some great people – each are plugging away at their manuscripts and each has dreams of one day getting published. Some just did NaNoWriMo to see if it could be done and others like me used the event to finally get that great story they’ve been struggling with to see the light of day.

In closing, I think I’ll do it again next year. Probably for the second in the three books I want to write about my teen militia struggling to survive in a land of walking cadavers and military commanders with megalomaniacal dreams of creating a new world.

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FUNERAL PALLOR – now available for Kindle

I’m pleased to announce that the second book in my Valerie Stevens series, FUNERAL PALLOR, is now available for Kindle.

>>There’s a nest of rotting husks in an old Calgary warehouse and they’ve got a hankering for human flesh, but that’s the least of Valerie Stevens’ problems. While necromancers are a dime a dozen, these mindless killing machines all share one thing in common: they’re former occupants of every funeral home in the city.

The evidence points to the zombie Caroline, especially now that she’s been experiencing short term memory loss and an inability to account for her whereabouts. If Valerie plans to clear her best friend’s name, she’ll have to move fast: someone has dispatched a zombie assassin and Caroline’s only hope may rest with a pair of middle-aged head-bangers with a few secrets of their own<<

Got zombie? Get a few more by ordering today!


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Walking Dead Recap – Episode Five (the abridged version)

This is a really short review – also, episode five was the hand’s-down best episode of the season to date… sooooo, here’s the skinny:

1) Sophie is STILL freaking missing at the start of the episode

2) Darryl is THE MAN

3) Andrea is still a bitch and apparently, a lousy shot

4) Lori is knocked up

5) Rick still looks pale

6) Glen is in love

7)  Doc Herschel is a control freak and likes to collect things.

8) Shane is losing it

9) Sophie is STILL freaking missing at the end of the episode.


That is all.

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Happy 75th CBC … now duck!

I’m notorious for ranting away about the fact that we don’t see any books about zombies, vampires, torrid romance avec bare chested hotties on CBC’s Canada Reads competition. That bugs the hell out of me.

Actually, there’s a number of things about the CBC that bug the hell out of me. Yes, I know they have a billion dollar budget. Yes I know they’ve been less than forthcoming in opening the books to public scrutiny, but you know, the CBC isn’t exactly alone in that department. (Here’s a line of defense for the CBC as they face a spending review by Canada’s Conservative government: we’ll open our books up when MP’s open the books up to their expense accounts. Hell might freeze over shortly thereafter, I suspect.)

There are hardcore CBC haters out there, more than you can shake a stick at. This posting might piss them off.


You see,  I’ve done a lot of thinking about the CBC’s relevance in our 500 channel universe which consists mostly of crap  –  not to mention our 24-hour news cycle, ugh. At any rate, I’ve come to the conclusion that those who are barking about CBC’s excesses (and yes, the Toronto International Film Festival party hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos a few weeks back doesn’t exactly win CBC a lot of friends when they’re under the microscope, dumb, dumb, dumb) are barking up the wrong tree. The cold, hard truth is that the CBC is relevant to all Canadians, it’s just that sometimes Canadians need to be reminded of this fact.

A lot of people who are calling for cuts to the CBC’s budget are trying to justify the cuts because of a perception there’s a major league left-leaning slant to all of CBC’s programs. Sometimes I want to hit certain reporters on the head and say “No!”, but that doesn’t mean the entire news department are card carrying dippers. On the entertainment side, Little Mosque on the Prairie is not left leaning the last time I looked. Or is it left leaning because it’s not a show about white people in the middle of the prairie because, you know, that show went off the air nearly thirty years ago. I don’t watch Little Mosque, mostly because it sucks.  A lot.

And CBC has had a rough few weeks. Last week’s Rob Ford/Marg Delahunty Princess Warrior fiasco couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Both the CBC and Quebecor are engaged in a war of words. CBC has been called to the carpet by not one, but two parliamentary committees and even Heritage Minister James Moore appears to be backing Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault’s quest to get CBC to release spending documents under Access to Information.

But here’s the thing: the CBC ain’t PBS. It ain’t CTV or Global or Sun News Network. (I tried watching Sun News Network. The graphics gave me a migraine.)

It is a public service that happens to be about broadcast media, so Quebecor and other media outlet gripes about a level playing field fail to recognize that Canada’s national broadcaster can never operate on a level playing field within its existing mandate: that’s what needs to be reviewed and made relevant to Canadians in the 21st century.

And who could have predicted the breakneck pace of change in the media over the past twenty years? I doubt even Marshall McLuhan could have gazed into his crystal ball and correctly predicted that people would be watching the news on hand-held devices or that radio itself would eventually become a medium in decline. (And it is, folks. There’s lots of data to support it, but I just point to this little thing called the iPod – that pretty much wraps things up from my perspective.)

But the CBC is important: it just needs to be reinvented in a way that resonates with most Canadians. The days of CBC being the only game in town are long gone, but its existence over the past 75 years, many of those years being spent as the whipping boy for governments in cost cutting mode or anyone with a beef against David Suzuki (who bugs me pretty much all the time), is the result of a nation that still wants to have a national broadcaster because we happen to live next door to the biggest media nation on the face of the earth.

In a perfect world, the CBC could receive a new mandate that is in concert with what Canadians want. The trouble is, can Canadians ever agree on anything? We’re split along regional, cultural and linguistic lines and maybe it is there that we need the CBC more than ever before: so that Canadians can understand each other better.

Where to start? Regional, regional, regional! Where else? Culturally relevant: programs about, oh … how about Canadian history? You know, it’s that thing we don’t teach in the school system. Don’t believe me? Ask Mel Hurtig – he’ll give you an earful. Less political correctness and more in your face controversial stuff. More of that bald guy from Dragon’s Den and less Peter Mansbridge. More Robert J. Sawyer or Arthur Slade and less Atwood and Ondaatje. (Sorry, Mike & Margaret. I still love you both, though.)

Finally, the CBC’s detractors need to recognize that those who support the broadcaster’s right to exist do so in the same way that law and order types support the Conservative government’s new omnibus crime legislation: they don’t care that prisons will cost bajillions of dollars or that violent crime is in decline. They just want the bastards put away forever regardless of the crime rate. For people like me, we don’t care how much it costs, we just want the CBC because it’s important to our lives.

Because of this, it’s unrealistic for anyone to draw a comparison to the competition in our existing media landscape because it truly is apples and oranges. Quebecor, CTV – all private broadcasters exist to generate revenue from the material they broadcast. CBC exists to broadcast material period. End of story. Get it? And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing because a national broadcaster can act as a lynchpin for Canadian values – even the ones we disagree on. Who knows, maybe a remandated CBC will produce it’s own Bill O’Reilly show to be followed up by yet more David Suzuki saving the planet – a healthy contrast of competing viewpoints. Do that and you’ll pretty much torch any indication that the CBC is left leaning.

Yes, I know the CBC has declining viewership, but its existence is an expression of what makes Canada unique. How we fund our national broadcaster in the years ahead will ultimately dictate whether the CBC flies or fries in the long run, and baby, that’s going to be the fight of a lifetime. Budget cuts are coming and Canadians need to ask themselves if they’re ready to pay a tax that will bankroll the CBC because I can’t see any other way to fund it. (In short, be like the BBC, dammit. They have Doctor Who! DOCTOR FREAKING WHO!!!)

I’ll close by pointing out that we are capable of producing world class news and entertainment in Canada. Me? I’d like to see the CBC produce a broader spectrum of programming that is more downtown Saskatoon because most of Canada doesn’t live in downtown Toronto. Are you listening CBC? I hope so.

Happy Birthday – let’s hope you make it to one hundred.

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Walking Dead Recap – Don’t go scrounging with Shane

***Happy Halloween! Warning – Spoliers***

Last night’s third episode of the new season of The Walking Dead opens with steaming hot water spilling out of a shower head and Shane giving himself a buzz cut. Why? Because something happened when he want back to that zombie infested High School to scrounge up badly needed medical supplies so the vet can do some equally badly needed surgery on poor Carl who is literally at death’s door.

It turns out that Shane and Otis (remember him? He’s the guy who accidentally shot Carl during the close encounters of the deer kind at the end of the season opener) managed to get the medical supplies but are being chased through the hallway at the high school by a swarm of the living dead. Will they make it? Well, somebody does. I didn’t give Otis much hope of surviving a foot race with the monsters since he’s about four hundred pounds.

Downstairs, Sheriff Rick (who looks to be fairly drained of blood now) is munching away on a sandwich (where did he get that? And why does this comfy farmhouse have power and hot water, while we’re at it? It is the apocalypse, after all) while wife Lori maintains a constant vigil at Carl’s bedside.

Meanwhile at the Winnebago, Sophie is still MIA and Darryl gets sick of listening to her mother sobbing about her missing daughter, so he and Andrea decide to recommence the search, just the two of them, in the middle of the night avec big-ass flashlights. Old man Dale, the spiritual leader of the group, asks Darryl if it’s a good idea (read: hey I don’t think you should be going out into the woods with flashlights that can attract zombies after dark) and Andrea (who is only slightly less bitchy this episode) basically tells him to pound salt. She’s good that way.

Back at the high school, Shane and Otis run through the gym which is where many people have met their doom in other zombie movies, btw, find a safe place atop the bleachers. They decide to split up: Otis will draw the zombies’ attention and flee via the locker room, while Shane jumps out of a 20-foot-high window. Otis starts to run and a legless zombie grabs his leg! (Note the irony there)  Shane makes it to the window and zombies chase him up the stairs. He clubs ’em, breaks the window and climbs outside. Just before he jumps, a zombie tries to get at Shane through the window and is promptly shot in the face as Shane falls, twisting his ankle badly.

Back at the farm, Glen and T-Dog arrive. T-Dog still looks pretty rough but no worries, he’ll get stitched up and be good to go in no time.  Lori is having an existential crisis and muses to Rick about whether this new scary zombie infested world is the best place to raise a kid. She’s hinting that maybe its best for Carl to pass on into the next world and Rick, tears in his eyes, pleads with his wife to get her head out of her ass.

Meanwhile back in the woods, Darryl and Andrea find a zombie swinging from a noose. Turns out the guy had been bitten and ended it all before turning – guess he didn’t realize you have to shoot yourself in the head if you want to avoid resurrecting into a zombie. The creature’s legs have been chewed down to the bone and Andrea barfs. She’s starting to realize that maybe being alive isn’t necessarily a bad thing because look what happened to this guy who committed suicide?

Flash to the farmhouse. Lori is still all existential crisisy. The doc, Hershel, tells Rick and Lori that they absolutely have to decide to operate ASAP to save Carl but Carl will probably die anyway. Meh.

Back at the high school, things look pretty bad for Shane. He’s got creeps hot on his heels and things look hopeless until Otis shows up. Back at the farmhouse, Maggie sneaks up on Glen who is praying. There’s an exchange about faith and then she heads back into the house.

Back at the high school, Otis and Shane are running for their lives. Will they make it?

At the farmhouse, the Doc is just about to operate when Shane arrives with the goods to save poor Carl. He breaks the news that Otis didn’t make it. The Doc informs them that they’ll tell Otis’s wife after the surgery and Shane heads inside to take a shower but only after looking in on Carl and Lori who Shane still pines for.

And now we’re back in the shower. Shane is checking out his head for scratches and bumps and begins the process of clipping his hair off as he recalls what really happened at the high school. Yes, you see, Otis and Shane were nearly out of bullets save for just a couple so Shane shoots Otis in the leg thereby providing a four hundred pound buffet for the living dead and securing a chance to escape. Poor Otis is torn to pieces (but we knew he was going to die because the fat guy always dies in zombie lore) and Shane gets away .

Shane, you ignorant prick. How could you do that to poor Otis?

Thus ends the third episode. Sophie is still … freaking … missing. Andrea is still pissy at Dale and Shane is starting to come apart. Overall this was a good episode and I like how we’re seeing Shane’s sanity or values or whatever the hell you want to call it begin to unravel. I like how Darryl (who is becoming my favorite guy on the show) is taking charge. Dale is getting kind of boring but then he is old and wise and he does have a beard. The writers aren’t doing much with Glen at all this season, so I suspect he’ll be zombie chow in an upcoming episode. I’m also starting to wonder if Shane, having lost the love of his life to his best friend that he thought was dead and after having murdered poor Otis to save himself isn’t going to off himself at some point.

As a footnote, I watched another zombie movie yesterday on SyFy. It’s called Zombie Apocalypse, a SyFy original movie. It sucked.  It blew. It was terrible and Ving Rhames has gained about a jillion pounds. The effects were terrible and in one scene, I actually saw a zombie run away from the chick with the sword. Clearly the writers have never seen The Walking Dead

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