Archive for June, 2010

The High Road podcast contest!

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

McClelland & Stewart is launching a contest for listeners of The High Road podcast. But it means you actually have to listen to the podcast, or at least Chapter 1! Here’s how it works:

  • Consider the trivia question below and send your answer to me at [email protected] with The High Road in the subject line (I want to make sure I can find your answers amidst the spam my gmail account seems to get). On July 30th, I’ll randomly draw three names from among the correct answers and the three winners will each receive a $50 iTunes gift certificate. (Sorry, but I’m told that the rules governing these contests mean that we can only accept entries from Canadian residents, excluding Quebec).

So here’s the big question:

  • In Chapter 1 of The High Road, what gift does Daniel give to Angus for Christmas?

Settle down everyone. There’s plenty of time to listen and get your answers in. I don’t want to crash my gmail account!

Thanks and good luck.

One Book, One Community really works!

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

It is truly wonderful to have had The Best Laid Plans chosen as the 2010 One Book, One Community selection in the Waterloo Region. Here’s some tangible evidence of the power of this program to mobilize an entire region to read the chosen book. Here are the “hold requests” in the three major public libraries in the region (Kitchener, Cambridge, and Waterloo). I’m not sure what surprised me more — that each library had ordered so many copies of TBLP, or that so many people had put it on “hold” to read. As for book sales, reports are that TBLP is selling briskly in local bookstores as well. If the past few years are any indication, by the time I head to Waterloo for three days of readings and related events in September, several thousand Waterloo residents will have read TBLP. What an honour…

Nice piece in the Cambridge Times

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Other than my rather crazed look in this photo, alongside Leah McQuire, Event Coordinator at Queen’s Square Library in Cambridge, Ontario, this is a very nice article in the Cambridge Times from last week. Thank you One Book, One Community!

The High Road Podcast: Chapter 5

Friday, June 25th, 2010

This week, Chapter 5, courtesy of McClelland & Stewart. In this chapter we learn a little more about Angus’s past… and Daniel is not happy about it.

Many thanks for downloading and subscribing to The High Road podcast. Last week, The High Road was the number one podcast on the iTunes Literature charts.

The music that opens and closes the podcast is Game Day  by Jon Schmidt and it’s available through Music Alley. The voiceover at the beginning of each episode is Roger Dey.

TBLP radio interview on CKWR in Waterloo

Friday, June 25th, 2010

A few weeks ago, I did a radio interview with Waterloo librarian and CKWR Monday Night with the Arts contributor Alannah d’Ailly. This was related to my One Book, One Community good fortune. It was a phone interview so the sound quality on my end is not always great, but you get the idea. Many thanks to Alannah and CKWR for the interview.

A great TBLP day in Waterloo with TNQ & OBOC

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Last Sunday I spent an amazing day in Waterloo participating in a series of events organized by Bruce Johnstone in conjunction with the respected literary journal, The New Quarterly, and One Book, One Community. I had a blast and it’s always wonderful to spend time with book lovers. They’re my kind of people. My deep appreciation to Bruce, Kim, Ed, David, Karen, James and everyone else who had a hand in making this such an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday. I look forward to seeing you all in September at the OBOC events.

Here’s a shot of me reading a few passages selected by Ed Jernigan as part of his fascinating talk on how we educate engineers.

Here’s the report of the primary orgnaizer, Bruce Johnstone, as presented on TNQ’s The  Literary Type blog:

One Book, One Best Laid Plan Bus Tour

Well, we laid out our best plans for this year’s New Quarterly bus tour and, lo and behold, they worked! We were a small but engaged group of readers and political junkies who gathered on Saturday morning (19 June). The bus part of the tour was not  onerous this year as all stops were in Waterloo, which allowed us lots of time for  sessions throughout the day. Here’s how things panned out.

Terry Fallis, author of The Best Laid Plans (TBLP), set off early from Toronto to join us for the day and was right on time and excited to meet some of his readers directly. We were a mixed group as usual and included a young man in Grade 10 who was already a fan of Terry’s (he was a delight to have along). Our first stop was WLU’s Paul Martin Centre where Dr. David Docherty, poli sci prof and frequent commentator on politics for CBC, greeted us. Terry was up first. He regaled the group with the story of his self-publishing adventure. It’s a wonderful story of low expectations and unexpected serendipity, which resulted in a win of the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour, and the emergence of a new Author (capital A) on the Canadian letters scene. Terry told the tale with great humour and humility. It’s the perfect Canadian story.

Next was Dr. Ed Jernigan, engineering prof  and visionary at the University of Waterloo. There’s a theme that runs through TBLP about the educating of engineers. This is a topic with which Ed is very familiar. He titled his talk “Educating Engineers and The Educated Engineer”. He was passionate in his critique that we are forcing students into finer and finer specializations (undergraduate programs these days offer as many as a thousand distinct majors) and not providing a broader education that better prepares them for the fast-changing future and a richer life (in many respects). Ed interwove his ideas with readings by Terry from TBLP that underlined his points. I think this session provided a whole other perspective on the role of the university and the dangers of over-specialization. Oh, and how naturally effective the Engineer as Renaissance man can be as a politician.

Our last speaker for the morning was David Docherty. David covered off current life in our political Mecca, Ottawa. I guess I shouldn’t get too political myself here, so I’ll just say that it was an excellent summary of some of the weaknesses on all sides of the political spectrum. It was noted that Terry will have no lack of fodder for future stories. During David’s talk, Karen Redman, former Liberal Party Whip, joined us and added well-timed comments, including a list of specific statements that cannot be uttered in the House. These were very telling and funny.

Off to the Huether Hotel for vigorous conversations and terrific food in a private room. I don’t know if we would have drowned out those watching the World Cup football matches, but it sounded like we could have been close.

We headed off to the University of Waterloo’s Coutts Engineering Hall for the remainder of the afternoon, arriving at the session where planning only amounts to an idea. How it plays out is another matter. We had planned two debates following the format of the CBC Radio show The Debaters with its tag line of “mixing fact with funny.” Terry was our moderator.

First up were David and Karen. They had chosen the proposition that Parliament is too small. David argued for the affirmative first and Karen countered. They did an amazing job, laying out some very funny perspectives. Current parliamentarians would have been  jealous. Terry polled the audience who judged each side by applause. Shockingly, it was a tie.

James Gordon, the politically active folksinger, had joined us at UW and was ready for the second debate with me as his opposition. James had proposed, “A majority of young people today still cling to the consumerist/oil-driven culture that their parent’s generation fostered, and are reluctant to do the work necessary to make our society and our planet more sustainable.” Yikes! James went first in the affirmative and had a beautifully laid out set of arguments delivered with great gusto. Terry came over to me , put his arm around my shoulder and said I could quit now. In the best political tradition I carried on, trying to build on some shaky ideas. Incredibly, my arguments held some sway and Terry announced another close tie. Methinks some other political shenanigans were going on!

The final part of the day was musical. James Gordon and his guitar delighted us with politically charged songs for the last hour of our day. He sang ‘Kelvinator’ from his Appliance Suite (wink, wink) and had the group singing along in the best folk tradition. He told the stories behind the songs and had very important ideas to express about our current challenges, especially in terms of the environment. I think he made a number of new fans.

Back to the bus and everyone dispersing. I think this was one time when a short bus trip was appreciated. It had been a day packed with ideas and conversation. Thanks to Terry, David, Ed, Karen, and James for making it such a delight. We’ll see where the bus takes us next year…


Bruce Johnstone, TNQ/ OBOC

My “blurb” on Don Gutteridge novel makes cover

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

When Simon & Schuster Canada asked me if I’d read an advanced copy of Don Gutteridge’s fine historical thriller Turncoat, I readily agreed. I love anything historical and Don does a wonderful job evoking life in 1830s Upper Canada. The story reels you in and holds you till it’s done. I really enjoyed the story and the central character, young Ensign Marc Edwards.

Here’s what I submitted to Simon and Schuster Canada:

“Don Gutteridge has taken up his quill and written a riveting yarn of 1830s Upper Canada, steeped in conspiracy and political intrigue. Gutteridge is not only a master of this historical period, he writes like a veritable visitor from it. He put me right there alongside his young Ensign Marc Edwards on this first exciting adventure, and I’ll be with him for however more there’ll be in this wonderful series. Canadian history has never been more gripping and enlightening. The story burns, the pages turn, and reader learns. Fans of Bernard Cornwell and Patrick O’Brien and Don Gutteridge and his Marc Edwards Mysteries.”

Terry Fallis, author of The Best Laid Plans

I never expected a portion of my blurb would make it to the cover of this great novel.

Great TBLP Book Club gathering in September

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

My good friend and fellow book club member, Peter Nosalik, has colloborated with the organizers of One Book, One Community to organize a wonderful gathering of book clubs in Waterloo this September. Peter is hosting the event at his Waterloo home on the evening of Monday, September 20th, calling it “our region’s biggest book club meeting.”

If you’re in a book club in the Waterloo Region, and are interested in attending, check out the details here.

Here’s a peek at the poster that’s been developed for it. My deep gratitude to Peter for conceiving of this idea and providing the leadership to make it happen.

Brief TBLP mention in the July Chatelaine

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

There’s a fascinating self-publishing story in the July Chatelaine about the extraordinary publishing journey of Mary-Ann Kirkby and her memoir, I Am Hutterite. She self-published in June 2007 and the book has taken off. She’s sold 75,000 copies! That is just amazing. She’s a Canadian bestseller 15 times over. There’s a brief sidebar to the story with some tips on self-publishing. I was interviewed briefly and there’s a mention or two in the sidebar. Every little bit of coverage helps…

The High Road Podcast: Chapter 4

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Here you go, Chapter 4 of The High Road podcast, courtesy of McClelland & Stewart. In this episode, the new year dawns and Angus is officially nominated as the Liberal candidate for Cumberland-Prescott.The battle is on.

The download and subscriber numbers for the podcast are steadily growing, gathering more than 10 times the listeners that the TBLP podcast enjoyed after three chapters. Hope you’re enjoying it.

The music that opens and closes the podcast is Game Day by Jon Schmidt and it’s available through Music Alley. The voiceover at the beginning of each episode is Roger Dey.