Friday, February 8, 2013


Hey folks, been a long time since I've written something for this blog but I've been busy writing, visiting great places like Quebec City (for the Quebec Crime Festival) and Costa Rica (for vacation). I also have a new agent and my novel Fall From Grace has been optioned by a LA-based screenwriter/director. This guy walked into a bookstore in LA, liked the cover of my book, bought it, read it and really connected with my main character. So he found me on FB and offered to option it. Fun.

But the real fun is here. I haven't talked about it much here but I'm a huge Amazing Race fan. I've watched all the US seasons, even the Australian and Asian ones. And when I heard that Canada will be doing its own version, I had to apply. So my good buddy Gord (who is also a big fan and a fun dude) and I made an audition tape and applied. We just sent the stuff out early but heck why wouldn't they pick us: two middle-aged, stay-at-home dads, one just happens to be a bestselling crime novelist. That's great TV. Check out our video below.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Beerbelly Journal

Hey Big Time Writer followers. Of those fans of Big Time Rush ("Hey, hey listen to your heartbeat") that accidentally came here: check out my new blog: The Beerbelly Journal .

Friday, August 24, 2012

Canada is Awesome!

I started to write something pithy and clever about my new scar, add a bit of political theatre, make fun of the American system, guns and all that, but I changed my mind.

I had surgery on Monday, minor surgery to repair a hernia. The incision is about six inches long and it will leave a scar. But other than that and the typical recover bits after minor surgery, I'm fine. The nurses and the doctors were wonderful, especially the nurses.

Since I'm Canadian and we have a government-run universal healthcare system, I didn't have to directly pay for the surgery. It's covered under the taxes I pay every year, which is about 17 - 20 percent or so of my income. I didn't need approval from anyone for the surgery, save for the doctors, and I had to fill in no forms, save for the admitting and some history and had no worries about deductibles, being refused by an insurance company, higher rates.

Simply put, I needed surgery, got the surgery, and was sent home with instructions on how to take care of myself and a follow up appointment in the near future. That's it. If I need surgery for a hernia again, I will get it the same treatment.

Canada is Awesome.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Giant Novelty Cheque #2

As promised here are the photos from the Alberta Book Awards Gala. There are a number with my Giant Novelty Cheque. Had some fun with that. And  because of the win, Fall From Grace, which was out last year, hit the Bestsellers Lists in Calgary and Edmonton, with #9 in Calgary and #3 in Edmonton.

Here I get the Giant Novelty Cheque from Linda Cook, CEO of the Edmonton Public Libraryand Brent  McDonough, Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Edmonton Public Library.
After receiving my Giant Novelty Cheque, I make a nice speech, thanking folks
 and saying nice things about Alberta writers. Applause follows.

Giant Man with Giant Novelty Cheque. Forget about me, look at the
wonderful glass work behind the Giant Novelty Cheque.
The Hotel Arts in Calgary is filled with great pieces like this.
This thing has got to fit! I need to pay my room service tab!

Summer is here.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Giant Novelty Cheque

If I won the Alberta Readers Choice Award, I was planning to joke during my acceptance speech about the lack of a giant novelty cheque. But when I won the Alberta Readers Choice Award for my book Fall From Grace last night (June 9, 2012) in Calgary, they actually presented me with a giant novelty cheque. We did the typical grip and grin shot and I was grinning from ear to ear because I was stunned to win. I had hoped I would win, but actually thought someone else did. According to the organizers and sponsors of the award, the incredible Edmonton Public Library, the voting was neck and neck until the final couple of days. Even so, it was very close.

As I said last night, it was great honour to win this award and to be nominated with such great writers such as Tim Bowling, Lynn Coady, Dawn Dumont and Judy Schultz. If you know that group of writers, there are at least three (maybe four) GG nominations, plus two or three Giller nominations, along with a lot of other awards. In fact, three out of the other four nominees won other awards. So it was very exciting to win.

Back to the novelty cheque. So they give me this novelty cheque, which is pretty cool, but it's the middle of the award ceremony and I have to keep this thing by my table while the other awards are being presented. Then I have to keep an eye on it while I'm visiting with other writers afterwards because the banquet staff was cleaning up and they really seemed keen on getting us out of there. I was worried that one of them would think it was left behind and they would throw it away. Then I have to parade through the hotel lobby and up the elevator back to my room with the cheque in hand. And the next day for the ride back to Edmonton, I have to find room in the car for this big cheque. It fit but with my kid, my wife and all our stuff, it was tight.

But now the cheque is home and there is no plan to hang it on the all in the house. But it will have a place of honour in my drum and music room. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I convinced a photographer to take some weird shots of me with the giant cheque. There's one of me trying to jam it into an ATM and once I get approval to run that photo, I will.

Thanks to all that voted for me and the other writers for the Alberta Readers Choice Award.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Holy Media

Wow, it's been a big couple of weeks in the media for me. I've had stories in the Calgary Herald, FFWD (a Calgary alt-weekly), CTV News, plus I was the Guest Editor for the Afterword section of the National Post for the past week. I wrote four articles for the NP, a number of them were shared, etc. on various social networks, blah blah blah. And because of all that, A Killing Winter hit #2 on the Bestseller Lists in Edmonton and Calgary, beating big name books from Richard Ford, John Irving and that 50 Shades of Grey stuff.

 Unfortunately, the stores that keep track of the various bestsellers for the local newspapers don't report to company that keeps track of stuff like that so I won't make it into any of the national bestseller lists like the Globe or Macleans. But that's okay. Books are selling and folks are paying attention.

Next weekend is the big Alberta Book Awards Gala and I'm shortlisted for the Alberta Readers Choice Award. I've never been shortlisted for an award before so I'm pretty excited. Got some great competition and I don't think I'll win but it'll be a fun time. I'll update this whatever happens.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Real Indian

Something happened today, something cool First some background.

Many, many years ago, when a Canadian aboriginal woman married someone outside of her band, whether this man was European or Metis, she would lose her status as an aboriginal. She would, officially, no longer be considered an Indian. And neither would any of her descendants. Conversely, if an aboriginal man married a woman who wasn't native, he never lost any of his status. And neither would his descendants. This denial of rights was only applied to women.

My grandmother was one of those women. She married a man who wasn't part of her band, who didn't have treaty status, although the amount of native blood in him was pretty high. But she lost her status, she lost any benefits she might have gained from that status. So her children were never considered status natives and neither were their children. Although many of my relatives suffered discrimination and racism because of their outward appearance.

However, only many years ago, a suit was launched to reverse this discrimination. And the women won. They were given their status back and so were some of their descendants. Only one generation aftewards. So my grandmother got her status back. Officially, she was a real Indian. And my father, once he decided to apply, got his. He was now a real Indian too.

In late Fall 2011, the Canadian government passed Bill C-3, which further improved the situation. Another generation was added to the mix. Even though my father married a French Canadian, it was possible that I might get treaty status. In truth, I didn't really need status because in my heart, I was an aboriginal person. My story as a native Canadian was as valid as any others. But I applied anyway. Just to see if I could. I thought I wouldn't because of my mother but if it was my grandfather who married a European woman instead of my grandmother, I would already have status, regardless of who my father married. So I had a chance.

And it turned out, I did qualify. A letter arrived in the mail today telling me that I had official treaty status; that according the Canadian government, I was a real Indian. Like I said, I've never needed official proof to accept myself as an aboriginal person, but it was real nice to get the letter. And soon, a treaty card. I still have to apply to my father's band, The Norway House Cree Nation, to be accepted as a member of the band. And I will because that is where my people come from.

In the end nothing will change, if Norway House accepts me. Except my bio. Instead of saying I'm just an aboriginal writer, it will be more specific, saying I'm a member of the Norway House Cree Nation. Which is really neat considering all the crap my grandmother had to go through.