Archive for 2008

Update on the sequel… Angus and Daniel return

Friday, December 5th, 2008

I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries lately about a sequel to TBLP, so I thought I’d bring you all up to date.  Doug Gibson at M&S has been quietly and gently encouraging me to write a sequel and that certainly fits in with my own thinking.  Now that I know my characters a little better than I did back when they were created, I’m eager to embark on their next adventure.  With this in mind, I’ve been working on the outline for the as yet unnamed sequel.  I’ve mapped out the storyline and the major plot points and have created a few new characters to shake things up a bit in Cumberland.  Currently, I’m working on individual chapter outlines.  The sequel will generally be structured along the same lines as TBLP.  I’m aiming for 100,000 words (but who knows?) broken roughly into two parts.  As in TBLP, there will likely be about ten chapters in Part 1 and ten chapters in Part 2.  Each chapter will again come in at around 5,000 words.  (I know, it seems a rather mechanical and unromantic approach that may rob the writing of its mystery and spontaneity.  (Blame the engineer in me.)

I’ve discovered that there are many different ways to write a novel.  I’ve heard many respected writers talk about just starting with a basic idea.  They just start writing and let the characters emerge on their own and shape the story themselves while the author tags along for the ride.  Sorry, I’m not built that way.  Even though I’m hardly experienced enough to know, I felt the first time around at least that I really needed the structure and security of a detailed outline, character sketches, and chapter summaries before actually starting the formal writing.  It was a great sense of comfort to know where I was going, and with whom I was dealing, page to page, and chapter to chapter.  Yet, my outline was still flexible enough to accommodate late-breaking ideas for plot twists and the weaving together of initially disconnected side-stories.

My fear with adopting a much looser and more organic approach to writing is that I’d be forever discarding and/or rewriting huge swaths of text to ensure that the story hangs together all the way through.  I simply don’t have time for that.  I never seem to have enough time for writing so I think it makes sense for me to lay down a detailed story outline so that when I am able to start writing in earnest, I can be very efficient and focused on the prose itself rather than developing the plot and characters on the fly.  It seemed to work well for me the first time around so if it ain’t broke, etc., etc.

Our current political turmoil is a wonderful backdrop against which to be creating, outlining and eventually writing the sequel to TBLP.  A writer could hardly ask for more.  Stay tuned…

Thanks for the plug Metro Mama!

Friday, November 28th, 2008

A Toronto blogger, Metro Mama, has included TBLP on her recommended list of “Books for Him.”  Very kind words.  Many thanks.  The other books on her list are wonderful too.  It’s great to be in their company.

TBLP interview on

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

When I was in Montreal a few weeks ago for a day of media interviews about TBLP, I shot an interview for the popular video site, For what it’s worth, here it is:

BookManager says TBLP is selling well…

Monday, November 24th, 2008

For writers, it’s not always easy to know how well your book is selling.  Yes, you’ll eventually get sales reports from the publisher and ultimately a royalty cheque or two.  But in the interim, beyond tracking how many copies are sitting on the shelves in the many Chapters/Indigo stores across the country (which you can actually do if you have plenty of time on your hands), it’s difficult to get a handle on sales.  When I was in Ottawa, another author told me about BookManager.  As far as I can tell, it’s a website that tracks independent bookstores‘ demand for books.  It also ranks books based on orders from the Independents.  At any rate, I’m given to understand that if you get the red designation “High Demand,” all is well.  There are at least a few hundred thousands books captured in this system so coming in at number 952 nearly three months after publication seems like good news to me.  Just for comparison, Giller winner Joseph Boyden’s Through Black Spruce sits at number 6 while Alice Munro’s new book, Alice Munro’s Best: Selected Short Stories, published in late October comes in at number 691.  What does it all mean?  I have no idea but I’m feeling good about cracking the top 1,000.

Doug Gibson conversation on

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

A few weeks ago, my friend and editor/publisher Doug Gibson and I met to record a podcast for Booklounge, a great website that brings together offerings for the book lover from a number of Canadian publishers, including McClelland & Stewart.   Doug is a stellar conversationalist and as I hope you can tell, we had a great time in our little chat.  The only real challenge was sticking to our ten minute target as prescribed by the folks at Booklounge (we came in at 12 minutes!).  Hope you enjoy our wide-ranging conversation about TBLP.

CanLit Roundtable transcript available

Monday, November 10th, 2008

As promoted earlier this morning, I did in fact participate in the National Post‘s first live blogging experiment with a host of prominent authors and publishers today.  It was a little surreal sitting at my desk over the lunch hour typing in my modest contributions and enjoying the insights of my fellow live bloggers.  Towards the end, the floor was opened for visitors to ask questions.  The technology worked well.  Click here or on the photo montage above to review the transcript of the live blogging session.

National Post Canlit LiveBlog today at noon

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Today at noon, I’m thrilled to be participating in a live blogging session with some very big names in Canadian Literature (I’ll be representing the little names in Canlit!).  Also on the panel will be:

We’ll be live blogging and responding to “audience” questions and comments on a range of topics including:

  • New generation of writers in the spotlight
  • Awards submission processes
  • Author of the year
  • New trends in publishing
  • This year’s surprises
  • How to measure the success of your book
  • How awards change the process

I’m looking forward to it.  Here’s the link for this live blogging session.  Come and join the conversation…

Creativity conversation with Shawn Hewson

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

Back in the summer, Matt Austin, an actor, writer and film maker contacted me about a series of short videos he is producing for Open Book Toronto, a great site that chronicles all things literary in my home town.  His idea was to shoot “artists” from different fields in conversations about the creative process.  I had the pleasure of sitting down with Shawn Hewson a talented young designer whose very successful label Bustle has turned heads in the fashion world.  This video can be seen on YouTube and will soon be available on Open Book Toronto.

TBLP in Gift Guide

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

As Halloween recedes and the dying strains of pumpkin carols fade, yes it’s time to start thinking about… (I know, I can’t believe it either)… the Holiday Season!  In my day job in public relations, our team has been pitching clients’ stories and products to holiday gift guides for several weeks already.

In short, ’tis the season, and the great book-lovers site is already into the holiday spirit…

TBLP sneaks back into the Globe and Mail

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

I was flipping through my Saturday Globe and Mail yesterday, as usual leaving the great Books section until the end.  Towards the end of the 16 page Books section I stumbled upon the brief weekly section entitled “Paperbacks” that provides quick descriptions of recent trade paperback books of note.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that TBLP made the cut this week.  Here’s the description they offered:

“Self-published and surprise winner of the Stephen Leacock award, Fallis’s wicked political satire stars a disillusioned Ottawa speechwriter and a crusty Scots engineering professor.”

Short, but definitely sweet.  I’ll take “wicked political satire” from the Globe and Mail any day.