Yes, you’re right, it’s time to cast my mind back over the last year for the annual counting of my writerly blessings. I started this yearly tradition back in late December 2007, one year after I started this blog. And every year since, I’ve reminded myself, and anyone who happens upon this humble blog, that, nine years later, I have been very fortunate in my life as a writer. 2015 was no exception:
- I slowed down a bit on the book talk circuit but still managed to put in well over 100 appearances in support of No Relation and then, later in the year, Poles Apart. I spoke at book clubs, literary festivals, writers conferences, libraries, community organizations, schools, and many other venues. I’m convinced my book sales are heavily influenced by how many talks I give. And we all know how important book sales are to a writer’s ability to land publishing deals for future books. So I’ll be on the road again in 2016. Happily, I enjoy this part of the writer’s life.
- The Best Laid Plans TV series won two Canadian Screen Awards. My wife and I were at the ceremony when Jonas Chernick won for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. Peter Moss also won for Best Director.
- At the end of April, No Relation somehow won the 2015 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. I would have died happy having won the Leacock Medal once back in 2008 for The Best Laid Plans. Winning it a second time was… wonderful.
- Last spring, I again taught the Humour Writing course at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. (Incidentally, I’m due to start teaching the eight-week course again later in January.)
- In July, I was one of the writers aboard the Ocean Endeavour for the twelve-day Adventure Canada cruise up the coast of Labrador all the way north to Ungava Bay. It was an extraordinary experience, not just geographically with ice bergs and polar bears, but the people, staff and passengers, were amazing. I’ll never forget the experience.
- In August, I started recording, producing, and releasing the Poles Apart, chapter by chapter podcast. Think of it as the audio version of the novel, released one chapter each week until it’s done. It’s available, in its entirety, for free, along with the rest of my novels, on iTunes or my blog.
- In September, I had the surreal experience of boarding a flight in Toronto bound for Vancouver, reading a few chapters of my first novel, The Best Laid Plans in the early part of the flight, then watching an episode of the CBC-TV series The Best Laid Plans on the Air Canada entertainment system, and finishing off the day by watching the debut performance of The Best Laid Plans – A Musical, at the York Theatre in Vancouver. I loved the musical produced by Touchstone Theatre and Patrick Street Productions. Efforts are underway to have the show tour. I’ll keep you posted.
- In October, the Chinese translation of No Relation was published in Taiwan. I’ve now received a copy of the Taiwan edition and am currently proofreading it.
- On October 20th, my fifth novel, Poles Apart hit bookstores and enjoyed a great run on various bestsellers lists. I couldn’t be happier with how the novel has been received so far.
- The National Post devoted a full page to Poles Apart the week it was released.
- I signed an option agreement with PDM Entertainment, the same production company that produced The Best Laid Plans TV series for CBC, for the film rights to No Relation, my fourth novel. The wonderful actor/writer, Jonas Chernick (Daniel Addison in the TBLP TV series), is writing the screenplay. There’s a long way to go yet, but the first steps have been taken.
- In November, the one and only Margaret Atwood kindly tweeted positively about Poles Apart to her nearly 700,000 followers. This tweet may seem like a small thing, but not to me.
- While at the annual Writers’ Trust Gala, I was introduced to one of my literary heroes, John Irving. I managed to construct several complete sentences in a row while my heart pounded beneath my tux.
- In December, just in time for the holiday shopping season, The Globe and Mail positively reviewed Poles Apart. I’d been holding my breath for several weeks until the review finally emerged. I’m now breathing normally.
This is not an exhaustive review of 2015, just some of the highlights for me. Looking ahead, 2016 is shaping up to be another busy year. In the next two months I have about a dozen speaking gigs scheduled, including trips to Whitehorse in a few weeks, and Galiano Island off the west coast in February.
I’m also working away on my sixth novel, tentatively entitled, One Brother Shy. I hope to finish the outline in the coming weeks so I can start writing the manuscript before the month is out.
Happy New Year!