Thursday, December 9, 2010

Greetings folks. As you can see, something has changed in the design of my blog. There is an image and it's the cover of my upcoming novel, Fall From Grace. It's a great cover. But the truth is, I had little to do with it. If you ever get a big time book deal like me, or even a small time book deal, chances are, you will have no input on your cover. You won't be able to offer one of your great photos or drawings, and you won't be allowed to get your friend to design the cover. Most of the work is done by the publisher, and rightly so. They know what works, what stands out, what grabs the eye and in the end, what sells. Well, they don't know exactly what sells but they have a better idea than you do. Especially a publisher like mine, Forge Books. They've been in business for over 30 years, they publisher hundreds of books year. Of course they know better than me on what works as a cover. My editor asked for some ideas for possible images and I gave him some. One or two made on the cover but the actual design was done in New York by an art director at Forge. He put together the whole package and made it work. I like it, my editor likes it, my agent likes and so do a few booksellers I know. And that's good. So around March 29, 2011 and thereafter, look out for my book. Pick it up and buy.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Okay I got the galley edits done and sent those out. Did I say that already? And then I got the manuscript for novel two from my agent, check out her comments, and made changes that I thought worked. And now it's sent off to my editor. The question is, now what do I do? I mean fiction related. I have plenty of non-fiction work but I'm not sure it makes sense to start novel 3 in the series. I only have a two book deal. And it won't become a three, four, and five book deal unless sales are really good. And I won't know that for awhile. The first novel in the deal comes out March 29. And according to my agent, it will be many months before we know how sales were. So she's not sure when to ask about more books. Probably not for another year. Or more. It makes sense to be prepared, to have a novel ready if I get another contract. But what if I don't? I have ideas for novel 3 but I guess I'm not going to start writing it until I know for sure. Time to dust off other ideas.

On another note, I will be releasing the cover of my soon to be released novel in a week. It's also my birthday so I figured it would be a nice thing to do to celebrate the day.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Man, when things get busy, they get busy. I make part of my living writing books for hire. And I have one of these books due at the end of January. I've been working on it. ANd then my agent sends me back the manuscript for the second novel in my crime series. She has comments and though she doesn't expect an entire rewrite, there is some work. And today my editor has sent me the galley for the first novel in the series, which is coming out March 29. He wants that pretty quick. I must prioritize. So the galley comes first, then the rewrite of novel 2 and then the book for hire. I'll get it all done because that's what I do but man I wish these things would spread themselves out.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

All I can say today is that winter has arrived. Snow and cold, down into the -20s tonight, just like in my upcoming novel, Fall From Grace. But unlike my character Leo, I didn't get kidnapped and dumped in an industrial zone to die of exposure. I went sledding with my kid and we had a hell of a good time. And now I'm ready for winter and anything it's willing to throw my way.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I had another media interview this week. This time it was with Sarah Weinman, the noted crime fiction reviewer. She was doing a story on the state of Canadian crime fiction for Quill and Quire, Canada's publishing trade mag. Although I was a bit scattered during the interview - I hadn't slept well the night before and had to rush to get my kid to school before the bell - I know she'll find something in my disconnected comments and make me sound intelligent or maybe just slightly coherent. Even so this interview will have two major positive results for my book. First, since Q & Q is the trade mag for the publishing industry going to agents, editors, publicists, distributors and booksellers, it will bring my name out to those folks. I already do some freelance work with Q & Q (I offered my services to the mag not just to make money freelancing but to get my name out there), but this article will mention my upcoming novel, Fall From Grace, and its release date, April 1. I also recall making some comments that could be taken as controversial (stuff about literary fiction readers unwilling to read genre fiction) and that could attract attention. Also, Sarah Weinman is a very well respected reviewer of crime fiction in the US and not only does she know who I am now, she will be reading my novel. The hope is that if she likes it, she will mention it somewhere, in a review in an American publication or her blog or on Twitter. And that could help sales.

On another note, a lot has been made about the recent winner of the Giller Prize. Here are a couple links about the controversy.

I've commented much on FB about this. I noted that this story shows how great and how terrible the Canadian publishing industry can be. On the great side, here is a small press taking a chance on a relatively unknown writer, putting out her book (and doing a great job because they treat their books like works of art) and then she wins the biggest literary prize in Canada. Many people have complained that small presses rarely win such prizes so here it is, a small press and debut novelist winning the award. The terrible bit is there is an aversion to success in certain literary circles, that if you win an award, or sell a lot of copies (or hope to sell a lot of copies) of your book and try to reach an audience of "regular" readers, you've sold out your artistic principles. Many people defended Gaspereau Press for not wanting to produce a bunch of books, blaming the Toronto media and publishing types for forcing a small press to compromise its artistic principles. Of course many of these people complain that "regular" readers have no taste and never get a chance to read the great books the small presses publish. But when a chance comes to reach these readers, when they get a chance to show what great work a small press and debut novelist can create, they spurn the chance. I thought Gaspereau's attitude was stupid because while I understand their desire to create great books, not just in the writing but in design and printing, in the end, it wasn't the design and printing of the book that won the award. It was the writing. And to deny your writer a chance to reach a wide audience will not only hurt her but their press. It wasn't a long ago that Gaspereau had to lay off a good chunk of their staff and cut back on how many books they released. Also, I know for sure there are many unpublished writers out there who were watching this and they will not be submitting their manuscripts to Gaspereau Press. I'm glad they came to their senses and decided to allow another publisher to print many copies of the Sentimentalists but I think the damage to Gaspereau will be long lasting.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Today, my US publicist booked my first US media interview. It's for Shelf Awareness's Book Brahmin column. Here are a couple of samples of the column from past episodes.

I won't tell you my answers but I will it will be published in March. It's also nice to get some media started months before the book comes out.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Just got word from editor that Forge is going to push the release date of my novel from March 1 to April. He didn't say that at first. He phoned and told me he had some distressing news. I first thought they were canceling the deal or something like that. But when he told me they were just pushing the release date a month, I sighed. I've been waiting for the publication of my second novel for over six years, so one month is nothing. And the reason why is a good one as well. In publishing, they have these things called ARCs or Advanced Reading Copies. They are pretty much paperback versions of your hardcover book that they send out to reviewers, media, booksellers or anyone else who should get one. At first, at least based on conversations with my editor, they were going to send out B&W ARCs of my novel. But it seems they want to send out full colour versions ARCs of my novel. Which means they want it to stand, which I'm hoping it means they are going to push my novel a little bit more than your average first novel (It's not really my first novel but it's my first published in the US so they are calling it my first).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ack, I got my first comments on my blog. Of course they came from friends but that's okay. Friends got to do what friends got to do.

Anyway, I just word from a mystery/crime style bookstore in the US that they might be interested in having me come down and read. That's cool because the Canadian government gives writers grants to attend a US launch of their book if it's published by a foreign publisher. And since Forge is a foreign publisher in Canada, then it qualifies. It would be nice to get this reading because I can then attend a mystery Con in the same area around the same time.

I'm also going to meet with someone to help me create a Wordpress style site.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hey BigTimeWriter followers. It's been an interesting time for me in the Bigtimewriting world. First, I've been in touch with my US publicist. She seems nice, like me she was into punk in the 90s so I impressed her with the names of bands my band opened for in Edmonton: Suicide Machines, SNFU, Mad Caddies, Chixdiggit, Groovie Ghoulies and some more. She was impressed. Some days I still am cause we were a good punk band.

But I've also had tough dealings with my agent. She reamed me out (some of it undeservedly s0) because I asked for help to get a reading NYC. The bookstore said no, and I felt disappointed that she didn't push hard enough. But she was angry at me because I asked her to help and though she has health problems she went all the across NYC to request a reading, even though she knew they would refuse my request for a reading. My thinking was that if you knew they would say no, why go through all the trouble of going over there and then blaming it on me. To teach me a lesson? So from now on, I'm trying to get readings without the help of my agent.

She also got on my case about my web presence. As I said in an previous post, my presence on the web (at least in the traditional sense which is an interesting thing to say, the web in the traditional sense because I grew up in the time before everyone had a computer so to call something like the web traditional is really odd) is extremely limited. I have a website that just links you to hear. And I have this blog that has only only follower and that no one has ever commented on. But I'm still out there on the social networks and making connections with people through that and through e-mail messages. Blogging has always bugged me. What I have to say isn't so important that I think I have to share it with the universe. And it's writing for no audience and worse, for a professional writer like me, no pay. And spending time blogging every day cuts into the other important things I need to do, like write for money, write my next novel and take care of my family. And now (or as early as two years ago), some experts are saying that blogging is dead, at least for people like me who don't have a shitload of fans who read my books.

I mean look at this blog. I have one follower, one person who sometimes reads this. And it's taken several weeks to get that. On FB, I have 755 friends (that's pretty low compared to some), and I got 100 new ones in the past week. I can get more info out to those people much faster than this blog.

So I'll blog her to talk about writer and bigtimewriter but you can also find me on FB and be my friend. Or just go to an online bookseller and pre-order my novel as an e-book or a hardcover.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The other day I got asked to join the board for the Edmonton Arts Council. I thought about it for a bit, wondered what kind of commitment it would take, and all that. But then I said what the hell, why not. The EAC is a great organization that supports Edmonton arts and artists of all types, either with finances, organizational help or emotional support. It was a no brainer.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm applying to be the 2011 Writer-in-Residence for the Edmonton Public Library. You need a few letters of reference so one person I asked is my buddy and fantastic playwright Marty Chan. He's also a great YA novelist. Everyone in Edmonton knows Marty. But when I asked him for the reference and what it was for, he said, "I was going to ask you the same thing." So we are referring each other for the position where are competing for. That in itself tells a lot about Edmonton's community of writers.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I've been reading a lot of online posts, FB comments, etc, about how one gets published as a novelist. Many people say one key to getting published is getting your name out there, blog a lot, tweet many times every day, update your FB status, write online reviews, comment on other posts; the more people get to know you, the better your chances are. I know a lot of writers who do this, a few are published, many are not. I know a writer who was having trouble finishing their novel. They complained they could never find the time, but every day they would spend a couple hours blogging, etc. In those two hours, I could have written at least 2,000 words, probably more.

As you know, if you follow my blog, and only one person follows my blog, I don't update much.
I'm on FB more and I do tweet a few times a week, but I don't do online reviews or follow and comment on other blogs about writing/publishing/novels. Compared to a lot of other writers out there, I pretty much don't exist online. But I'm the one with the bigtimewriter deal and they are still trying to get their novel finished. I'm the one with the pre-order listing for my novel on various online booksellers like B&N, Amazon and Chapters, and their presence on these sites is their name at the bottom of the reviews they have written about someone else's book. I'm the one with the bigtimewriter hardcover book coming out on March 1, 2011 and they're not. I'm not saying having an online presence won't help you get published. But you also need a completed manuscript to send out to publishers or agents. If you don't have a complete manuscript, then it doesn't matter how much you blog, tweet or comment.

So my writer friend who would complain about no time to write but had time to blog? They finally completed their novel. And you know what? They sent it out and found a publisher.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Friday night I went out for beer and pizza with friends. When I got home, there was a package for me. It was my copyedited manuscript. As most writers know, there are two types of edits when you have a book published. The first is the serious edit, where you and your editor discuss your story, your voice, your characters, all the important writing craft things. Jim Frenkel is my editor and he's been in the biz for decades and worked with people like Issac Asimov, Philip K. Dick,, Vernor Vinge, Jack Williamson, and many other great writers. So I was a bit intimidated to work with him. But he was great. He likes my book, likes my writing (which is why he signed me in the first place) and his suggestions for my book were great. He didn't force any changes on me and only wanted to make my book better. In the end, he did.

But copyediting, that's different. I hate copyediting and I know a lot of other writers do as well. It's a lot of nitpicking of details, factchecking, typos, etc. I don't envy the people who do that kind of thing and I don't wish to have their abilities or personality. But I appreciate it and know it's important. And because of one of these people, I have more than 300 pages of redmarked manuscript to go through. I have until Oct 4 but I should get it done faster. I'm going to hate this work but it's all part of the process.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My buddy and fellow Edmontonian, Thomas Trofimuk, had his novel, Waiting for Columbus, chosen as part of the new Richard and Judy Book Club. In case you don't know, Richard and Judy's Book Club is like the UK version of Oprah's book club. This is a major coup for any writer and sure to give him a huge boost in sales in the UK and possibly in Canada. I've known Thomas for awhile, we used to travel together to small town Alberta, touting our first novels in rural bookstores. Back then, he talked about this Columbus novel he was working on and it's good to see all the success he's had with it. Thomas is a great writer and a great guy, and a fine example of Edmonton's writing community. For years, I've been saying that Edmonton's literary community is one, if not the strongest one in the country and this is another example of why.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wow. My upcoming novel Fall From Grace is already listed on Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble, Chapters/Indigo! It seems that it comes out March 1, 2011 so if you wanna pre-order, you can go ahead. Once I get a final cover shot, I'll post it. I have a tentative one but I can't share it until it's officially approved by the publisher.

I'm pleasantly shocked by this development. I knew I had a book coming out in the Spring of 2011 but to see it already listed on the online book retailers makes things even more real. I was so excited that I pre-ordered, even though I will get my own copies in the future. I can't wait! I love being a bigtimewriter.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

As I said a couple days before, I'm not known enough in Canada to be considered overrated. And the same goes for underrated (see link below). I find this kind of ironic and some of the reasons these writers are considered underrated is because they haven't won awards. The Canadian literary scene focuses on awards way too much. It's nice to win awards but it doesn't mean you're a better writer or that your book is better. Considering how the Canadian publishing industry works, I'll probably got from unknown writer to sellout hack. Enjoy the list.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Finished the second novel in my bigtimewriter book deal. It only took about five or six months to write, about half of it written during a week long retreat in Banff. Soon it will go to my proofreader and then it will go to my bigtimeagent and then to my bigtimeeditor, about two months ahead of deadline. Once my editor gets it, I get another D and A (Delivered and Accepted) cheque (or check for all you Americans).

Whether this novel will be my last bigtimewriter novel, I have no idea. For the next couple of years as my two novels get published, I'll get to act like a bigtimewriter. Afterwards, who knows but at least I made it to the show for a short period, much longer than Crash Davis did.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Even though I'm a bigtimewriter, I'm not known enough in Canada to be on this list. Or the next one for underrated writers.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I'm back. No one's missed me because no one follows. But with my book coming on in the Spring of 2011, I should get on this.

Okay this is what has happened so far. My editor liked my novel, the one I wrote in six months last year. We did the edits, which was relatively painless and no it's in production. There are blurbs. I'll include some of those next time.

As for the second one in the series, it was supposed to be the first manuscript I submitted, the one that attracted and got me sign to my agent, and attracted and got my editor to sign my to a two book deal. But that story takes place before the events of the one that's coming out in Spring 2011. And my editor said he liked that novel so much, he wanted to know what happened next. "So forget about that novel you've written, the one that got my attention, tell me what happens next"

Sigh. Oh well, when you're starting out in the big leagues, you don't ask too many questions or posture like an all-star, you just follow the signs and take your swing. So I said sure but I'll need a few more months past the contracted deadline. "No problem," said my editor. "I just want another great book from you."

And so I started writing and within six months, I'm one scene away from finishing it. And soon I'll send it to my editor and I think he'll be happy.

BTW, you know that photo at the back flap of those hardcover books? Did you know that if you're just a new bigtimewriter like me, you have to pay the photographer out of your own pocket? Surprise!