Archive for January, 2011

Yet another spasm of self-indulgence…

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

It’s nice to have both my novels ahead of the much-talked about “O” (A Presidential Novel) by that well known writer, Anonymous, on the Amazon “political” bestsellers list. They update the list hourly, so I’m sure it won’t look like this for long. Luckily, that’s why we have the “Print Screen” function key on our computers. It allows us to freeze time and this list for posterity’s sake. Gives me little glow to close out the weekend…

Canada Reads 2011 – The home stretch

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Well, we’re less than two weeks away from the great Canada Reads 2011 debates (February 7, 8, 9). This year the debates will held live with an audience at the CBC Broadcast Centre here in Toronto. If you’re interested in attending, here’s the info. You can also watch live streaming of the debates, with live chatting, and of course listen live online or, the old fashioned way, on your radio (you do have a radio, don’t you?). Many people have been asking me if I’m getting nervous with the debates now so close. My honest response? I’m really not. This has been such a wonderful experience in every way that I’m not really anxious about the outcome at all. Sure, if you win, it’s a big deal, and it would be fantastic. But really, all of the Canada Reads authors have already won just by making it as Canada Reads Selections. Canada Reads has helped to sell thousands of all of our books and given them higher levels of recognition than they’ve ever had. It’s a writer’s dream come true. Of course, winning it all would be great, but this has already been so wonderful, I’ll be all smiles whatever happens in the debates. And having met and gotten to know the other authors at least a little bit, I suspect they’re all feeling the same way. Without getting too maudlin about it all, let’s not lose sight of the ultimate goal of Canada Reads: to encourage reading in this country. A simple and noble goal. Here’s to an exciting finale to Canada Reads

Steve Paikin invites me back to The Agenda

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Back in February, 2007, seven months before The Best Laid Plans was even in print, Steve Paikin, the thoughtful and articulate host of TVO‘s, The Agenda, one of the finest public affairs show on the air, invited me on to talk about what was then, just a podcast novel. It was very kind of him. Fast forward four years and Steve invited me back to talk about The High Road. I was a little nervous stepping back into the The Agenda studio but as always, Steve made me feel very welcome and comfortable, at least until the make-up was slapped on and lights came up. We had a wide-ranging discussion and Steve’s questions had me racing around my brain in search of responses that were in some small way related to what he had just asked me! I survived (or perhaps you’ll feel differently when you watch it.). My thanks to Steve Paikin for having me on.

TBLP Reader Review Round-Up

Monday, January 17th, 2011

I have received a few requests to include more reader reviews on this blog. So every once in a while I`ll offer some links to blogger reviews of both novels. To start, here are three recent TBLP reviews from book bloggers. You might be wondering whether I will link to any negative reviews, and there have been a few. Well… probably not…

Book Blogger Reviews of TBLP:

Ali Velshi talks about The Best Laid Plans

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

My trusty Canada Reads defender, Ali Velshi, CNN’s Chief Business Correspondent, recently recorded a Canada Reads podcast interview. My ears were burning throughout. Ali is very articulate, which you might expect from a professional broadcaster, but what you might not expect is just how thoughtful his insights are about TBLP. All I can say is, I’m glad he’s in my corner. Click here, or on the photo of Ali to read about the interview and listen to it.

We’re in the home stretch now with just a few weeks to go before the great debates that will crown this year’s Canada Reads winner.

Novel #3 – Writing update

Saturday, January 8th, 2011


I’ve been asked often in the last several months whether I’m working on a third novel. I figured this is as good a time as any to give you, my small but mighty band of followers, an update on novel #3. Yes, I am writing another novel. I spent a good portion of the holidays sequestered in our third floor library mapping out the story that’s been steeping in my head for over a year. You may recall that I am a big outliner. I like to know virtually everything about the story, the characters, the conflicts, the plot points, the settings, etc., before I write the first word of the manuscript. I eventually break it down chapter-by-chapter with two or three pages of bullet points for each. I do this so that when I’m ready to start the actual manuscript, I can really focus on the writing, rather than on thinking through what happens next. My outline for The High Road was 65 pages long. I don’t think my outine for novel #3 will be quite that long when it’s finally done.

There are two working titles competing in my head these days. Neither may survive the writing/editing/publishing journey, but for what it’s worth, they are, Making Space, and Launch or Lunch? I like both of these for different reasons. Both have a direct connection to the story (which is always a good idea!). Making Space is more subtle, but Launch or Lunch? has the added benefit of being shortened to LOL, which I hope will be a fitting abbreviation. In any event, I find it helpful to have working titles, if only as mental placeholders.

As I think I’ve mentioned in this space before, this is not the third volume in the exploits of Angus McLintock and Daniel Addison. I’m sure I’ll come back to these two old friends in the future, but this novel bids at least a temporary farewell to Cumberland, politics, and, yes, the hovercraft. Having said that, I do hope readers will find this new novel as funny, and even as familiar, as The Best Laid Plans and The High Road. There are other similarities beyond humour. I’ll still be writing in the first person through a narrator who is very close to, but not always at the epicentre of, the story. There’s also another protaganist to whom the narrator is unavoidably tethered. Settings for the story include Toronto, Washington, New York, the interior of BC, Florida, and briefly, even a very, very remote location seldom visited in Canlit. Topics to be explored include the public relations business, the intrepid bush pilots of the British Columbia wilderness, our aging population, Canada-U.S. relations, and North American society’s apparently fading interest in the space program. That’s as far as I think I should go in describing it.

As a PR agency veteran in my day job, some of my colleagues may be alarmed that I intend to take nasty shots at my own profession. They need not fear. There will certainly be satire, but as you can imagine, I’m a big believer in the value that professional and strategic public relations and communications offer. There’s no question that we’ll have some laughs along the way, but I’m not out to bite the hand that feeds me. The outline for Making Space/Launch or Lunch? is nearly finished. I hope to be writing the manuscript by the end of the month. I’ll keep you posted…

5th printing of TBLP with the Canada Reads logo

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

I received an envelope today from McClelland & Stewart. I wasn’t expecting anything from my publisher so it was with some curiosity that I ripped it open. Out fell a newly-minted copy of The Best Laid Plans, but with the Canada Reads logo emblazoned on the front cover. I checked inside and discovered that this is the fifth printing of TBLP. Never in my wildest dreams did I foresee this…