Archive for the ‘Beverley Slopen’ Category

Thrilled to sign with M&S for my next two novels

Friday, July 5th, 2013

This happened a while ago, but the news was just released today. I’ve signed a two-book deal with McClelland & Stewart, under the Douglas Gibson Books imprint. Doug Gibson will still be my editor. My fourth novel, No Relation, is written and edited, and is already in M&S’s hands for copy-editing, layout, and cover design. It will be published in May, 2014. It’s possible I’ll actually have my fifth novel written by then, (he says, optimistically) as I’m now deep into the planning stages of it, and hope to have started writing the manuscript by the end of the year. It’s tentatively called Poles Apart. (I’ll write more about novel #5 later in the summer, when the story is more fully developed.)

It’s an honour to be with McClelland & Stewart for my next two novels. My gratitude to my agent Beverley Slopen, and the great folks at M&S, Ellen Seligman, Doug Gibson, Bhavna Chauhan, Kristin Cochrane, Anita Chong, and of course my tireless publicist, Frances Bedford. Onwards…

Wow… still reeling…

Saturday, June 8th, 2013


This past Monday evening, I was emceeing the 2013 Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Awards at the Toronto Congress Centre. It was wonderful meeting, and having dinner with, the legend Alice Munro, and spending time with Will Ferguson, one of the nicest and funniest (he’s a three-time Leacock Medal winner) writers we have in this country. Much to my surprise, I was actually a finalist for the 2013 Author of the Year award alongside Alice Munro, Will Ferguson, and Nancy Richler.

I spent a good part of the night shuttling from backstage to the podium, introducing each award and the resepctive presenters. When it came time for the Author of the Year category, I was quite happily backstage as reigning CBA President, Mark Lefebvre (who writes as Mark Leslie), took the stage to rip open the envelope (yes, they actually do the whole “…and the winner is…” routine) and announce the lucky name. Fortunately, I was backstage at the time, fully expecting to hear one of the other stellar writers’ names called, when Mark distinctly read my name. It took me a moment to find my  jaw on the floor, it was quite dark backstage, before I wobbled back onto the stage. I thanked the many independent booksellers with whom I’d worked over the preceding five years, paid tribute to my wonderful publicist at Random House, Frances Bedford and my literary agent, Beverley Slopen, and offered my deep appreciation to my editor and friend, the incomparable Douglas Gibson. Finally, I just closed by saying that there had never been a more grateful recipient of this honour. Then gathering myself, I switched back into emcee mode with my knees still knocking, noted that we were “now returning to regularly scheduled programming,” and introduced the next award. Then I darted backstage to hyperventilate until I had to return to the microphone to welcome the next presenter and generally keep the trains running on time. Believe me, I was very thankful for the distraction of my emcee duties. As I said in my closing remarks, when I think back, years from now, on the 2013 CBA Libris Awards, I suspect I’ll remember very little about my duties as emcee.

Winning Author of the Year was indeed a shock. But the honour really should be shared with my patient and indulgent family. You see, I’ve done a lot of talks and readings in the last few years. There were 130 last year, and I seem to be on a higher pace this year. I truly believe that this is how you sell books in this country, and better the odds that you’ll get to write and publish a next novel. But it is not without sacrifice. I haven’t been there for as many family dinners and weekends as I would have liked. The load at home unavoidably shifts to the shoulders of my wife, and two sons. I’m very grateful that they have accommodated the demands of my writing life, on top of everything else that comes with having a family. None of this would have happened without their support. Somehow, I will try to make it up to them…

CBC TV mini-series based on TBLP

Friday, November 25th, 2011

 

I’ve been sitting on this news for a few months now, but it’s finally official. The Best Laid Plans is in development as a six-part mini-series to be aired on CBC television. Jian Ghomeshi made the announcement as part of the big reveal this week of the five finalists for this year’s Canada Reads crown. A hugh crowd was gathered in the atrium of the CBC Broadcast Centre. It was a great event, but I confess my heart was pounding as Jian told the assembled throng that The Best Laid Plans was headed for television. What a thrill.

The director/producer of the mini-series, Peter Moss, is a very experienced television and theatre veteran having adapted the works of others writers including Mordecai Richler and Timothy Findley. The writing team is in place and they are true professionals. I’m honoured to have the story in their hands. You’ll hear more about them and the cast when all of the pieces are in place.

Jian Ghomeshi announces the TV mini-series.

This all began back in the summer when Peter approached my agent, Beverley Slopen, and me to secure the film and TV rights to the novel. It’s incredibly exciting to contemplate the story coming to life on the small screen. I’ll get to stay involved in the project throughout as a “story consultant,” not so that I can jealously protect my work, but really just to indulge my curiosity about the whole process of adapting a novel to television. I think it’s going to be a fascinating experience. I couldn’t be happier about how it’s all come together. I”ll keep you posted as we cross certain thresholds in the production. But it’s going to take a while. We’re probably at least 18 months away from seeing Angus on television. Be patient, art takes time! Thanks for all your kind words since the news broke, and stay tuned…

Jian Ghomeshi had me stand up at the Canada Reads launch after announcing the mini-series.

Writing Update: Manuscript Finished!

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Six months ago to the day, I started drafting the manuscript for novel #3 (it’s still untitled). Last night, at close to midnight, I actually wrote the words “The End” to complete the draft. It always feels great to bring the story full circle. It comes with a real sense of accomplishment, even though the journey is far from over. The manuscript is just over 91,000 words, which should make the book about 300 pages, I figure.

So what’s next? Well, now I head back to Chapter 1 and start the editing and polishing process. I also do a ‘humour check.’ This can mean toning down or even cutting out some of the funny stuff that may just be trying too hard. Alternatively, I may pump up the laughs in places where I haven’t fully exploited the comic potential. But I’m learning to let the story carry most of the load. It’s nice to have a laugh or two along the way, but it should only support, not supplant, the story. So I’ll spend the next month of weekends and the odd weeknight massaging, rearranging, cutting, and adding to make sure the last six months of writing hangs together as one continuous, seamless, compelling story. Then on December 1st, I’ll send it off to my editor, Douglas Gibson at McClelland & Stewart, as well as to my literary agent, Beverley Slopen. Doug will carefully read the manuscsript more than once, and then add his distinctive, insightful and almost always sound editorial suggestions in pencil in the margins. He’ll pass the manuscript back to me probably by the Christmas holidays. I’ll then work my way through it, making changes where required. Then I imagine I’ll send it back to Doug sometime in January where the more formal publishing process begins. There’ll be copy-editing and cover design, not to mention the gathering of blurbs from interesting folks. Then, if all goes according to plan, the book will miraculously appear on bookstore shelves and in online catalogues in early September 2012.

But the big news today is that the first major hurdle has been surmounted. The story is fully written for the first time. I’m going to bed…

Steve Jobs helped make me a writer…

Friday, October 7th, 2011

In the two days since Steve Jobs passed away, there has been no end of worthy trubutes to an extraordinary visionary. Most of the eulogies have rightly focused on how he changed our way of life and how we interact with technology. He changed our world with the wonders he dreamed up in Cupertino, California, including the Mac personal computer, iTunes, the iPod, the iPhone, and most recently, the iPad. My debt to Steve Jobs extends a little further. Those who know me will agree that unlike my twin brother, Tim, I’m no crazed Apple fanboy. Tim is all Apple, all the time. But, in 2006, my life took a turn when I bought my first 1gig iPod, and discovered the world of podcasting.

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve loved listening to CBC Radio. I learned so much from shows like The House, Sunday Morning, Morningside, As It Happens, Writers & Company, and of course the hourly newscasts. I was so interested in current affairs and politics back then that music would seldom be heard on the car radio. It was always the substance and depth of CBC. So when I first browsed through the podcast section of iTunes, I was hooked. Not only could I get my favourite CBC Radio shows whenever I wanted, but also podcasts from NPR , The Guardian, the BBC, the New York Times, Scientific American, and many others. For someone interested in books and the world around him, exploring the iTunes podcast directory was like visiting Disneyland. I immediatley subscribed to dozens of podcasts and considered having my ear buds surgically attached.

In the spring of 2006, I was so enamoured of podcasting that a colleague and I created Inside PR, Canada’s first podcast about public relations. My cohost, David Jones, and I recorded a half-hour show about our profession every week. And I mean every week. After more than 200 weekly consecutive episodes (if you do the math, that’s more than four years without missing a show), Dave and I finally surrendered our microphones to a new team of hosts including my friends Joe Thornley and Martin Waxman. So Inside PR lives on.

I know what you’re thinking. What does this have to do with making me a writer? Well, when I wrote my first novel, The Best Laid Plans, I spent a year in a futile search for an agent and/or publisher. Greeted with a deafening silence, I decided to build an audience for the novel on my own, and self-publish it. So in January of 2007, I began podcasting The Best Laid Plans, chapter by chapter, and made it avaialble for free on my website or through iTunes. In the absence of the very gratifying feedback I got about the podcast, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to go through with self-publishing my first novel. But the podcast version of The Best Laid Plans was very warmly received and still attracts new listeners every day, nearly five years after I began posting chapters.

After miraculously winning the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, I landed a wonderful literary agent and a publishing deal with McClelland & Stewart. Then the novel won the 2011 Canada Reads title and is now in its eleventh printing. M&S published the sequel, The High Road, in September 2010. It was a finalist for the 2011 Leacock Medal and is already in its fourth printing. I podcast The High Road too, just as I had my first novel. Finally, I’m two chapters from finishing the manuscript for my third novel, which M&S will publish in September 2012. I plan to podcast it as well.

Let me remind you of a sentence two paragraphs back. “In the absence of the very gratifying feedback I got about the podcast, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to go through with self-publishing my first novel.” That’s the Steve Jobs connection right there. Without the iPod, iTunes, and podcasting, it’s quite possible that The Best Laid Plans would still be a manuscript safely secreted in the electronic bowels of my laptop.

It’s been a surreal ride so far that may well have started when I bought my first iPod– that tiny perfect device born in the brain of Steve Jobs.

Everyday, I carry my iPod and my iPad with me where ever I go. I browse the podcast section of iTunes at least every other week in search of still more podcasts to feed my mind as I walk to the office every day. And late at night I’ll often be at my computer, working on a novel, as my iPod charges next to me…

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

 

Self-indulgent screen grab for posterity’s sake

Friday, June 17th, 2011

I think of my blog partly as a digital scrapbook of this wild and wonderful writing  journey I’ve been on since finishing the manuscript for The Best Laid Plans back in 2005. So when I come across news items that help to put my experience into some kind of context or perspective, I’ll post it on my blog so I’ll have a record of it. This is one such time, so bear with me.

My literary agent, Beverley Slopen, discovered via Quill & Quire a week or so ago that for the first time, both The Best Laid Plans and The High Road made it onto BookNet‘s extended Canadian Fiction Bestseller’s list. I never dreamed this might happen so I’ve captured it here for posterity in case it never happens again!

Leacock Medal Shortlist: Thrilled all over again

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

Yesterday, in an annual ritual freighted with wonderful memories for me, the five finalists for the 2011 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour were unveiled in Leacock’s beautiful home on the shores of Brewery Bay in Orillia. At about noon, in between meetings, I discovered via Twitter that The High Road was among the finalists. What an honour, what a thrill. The other authors shortlisted are very talented and very funny. Here’s the list of the 2011 Leacock Medal finalists:

I’ve already read and enjoyed most of the novels Trevor and Todd have written, including Practical Jean and Toby: A Man. I’ve read an earlier book by David Rakoff called Fraud which I thought was great. While I haven’t yet read Red, as it were, I’ve watched his show enough to know that he is one hilarious dude (although I’m not sure anyone has ever called Red Green “dude”). It is truly an honour to be among these accomplished Canadians.

You might think, having been blessed with a Leacock Medal already, (here’s my post from March 27. 2008 when TBLP was shortlisted), that the thrill of being a finalist might be somewhat moderated the second time around. Uhmmmm…, no. Not a chance. While I kept the handsprings to a minimum when in public yesterday, rest assured, my calm exterior belied an internal excitement that still has my ‘insides” vibrating nearly 24 hours later. You see, I truly believe that the Leacock Medal gave me the writer’s life I now have and enjoy. When I’m invited to readings and festivals as “a writer,” when I signed on with Beverley Slopen as my literary agent, when the legendary Doug Gibson at McClelland & Stewart published The Best Laid Plans, and last year The High Road, and when TBLP somehow made it through to be crowned the winner of this year’s Canada Reads, I know that none of it would have happened without the Leacock Medal. It started it all.

I would think that very few authors can pinpoint a date, time, and place, when and where they felt like they’d actually become “a writer.” I can. Wednesday, April 30th, 2008, 12:30 p.m., Swanmore Hall, Orillia, Ontario.

My congratulations to my fellow finalists and I look forward to meeting them at this year’s luncheon on April 28th when the winner will be announced. Still walking on air here…

McClelland & Stewart to publish The High Road

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

ms-logo

It’s official. The paperwork is done, and I’m thrilled to announce that next September, McClelland & Stewart will publish the sequel to TBLP, entitled The High Road. Even better, Douglas Gibson will again be my editor and publisher, under his own M&S imprint. There’s none better than he (he’s edited Alice Munro, Robertson Davies, W. O. Mitchell, and the long list goes on and on). I could not be happier.

I had always hoped that it would unfold in this way after M&S published TBLP, but in this uncertain climate, it’s never really done until the contract is signed. Well, the ink is now dry. I want to thank my wonderful literary agent, Beverley Slopen, who worked with Doug and M&S to make this happen.

Douglasgibson

DG Book

In the next few weeks, I’ll be doing some final tweaking to the manuscript based on Doug Gibson’s close editorial review. I’m pleased that there’s not much left to do on it and it’ll be done by early January. Then Doug and M&S take over. There’s cover design to do, layout, and cover copy, among other steps along the way. We’re also trying to gather some big names to provide endorsements of sorts that might appear somewhere on the front or back covers. So far, Jim Cuddy, the amazing singer/songwriter from Blue Rodeo, has agreed to “blurb” the novel. He said he really enjoyed TBLP, and who am I to argue? (If you’re wondering how I was able to connect with Jim, we actually play on the same ball hockey team. He’s a great guy and a stalwart defenceman too.)  As well, former Leacock Medal winner Ian Ferguson (another great guy — hilarious too — I’ve come to know since meeting him at last year’s Leacock Luncheon) has also promised to provide a quotation.  Of course, neither of these great Canadians has yet read The High Road manuscript, but here’s hoping they like it when they do early in 2010. Fingers crossed.

This news simply continues what has been for me, an extraordinary journey since I “went public” with the first episode of the TBLP podcast nearly three years ago, nine months before it was yet a self-published book. What a ride it’s been…

Getting ready for a short Niagara tour

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Next week I’m off to speak about, and read from, TBLP at the public libraries in Fort Erie and Pelham, in the Niagara region.  It’s been in the works for a while now and I’m looking forward to it.  I’ve done a couple of interviews with the local media down that way and the resulting stories are starting to emerge. I hope the media coverage helps to draw a good crowd for the events.

Though I’d never thought of it, a couple friends have asked whether I would read from the manuscript of the TBLP sequel, still tentatively called The High Road. Good question. I suppose I could but I suspect that most of the people in the room will not have read TBLP yet so it may not be particularly meaningful. On the other hand, if most of the audience has read TBLP, they might prefer to hear me read a snippet or two from the next book. I’ll have to play it by ear and decide when I get there.

Stay tuned for a writing update on my progress on The High Road.

Here’s the Niagara This Week story. Ahhh but fame is fleeting. The reporter (very nice guy) actually got my name wrong in the first sentence and in the photo caption calling me first “Doug Falls,” then “Doug Fallis.” It’s already gone to press so the print versions will feature my new pseudonyms but the online story should be okay. He sent me this corrected copy. I thought it was quite funny. He was mortified. No matter. It’s when they stop talking about your book that you have to worry…

Niagara this week article 090924

I’m back from the east coast

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

Well, after another day of driving, the family and I arrived back in Toronto tonight after two weeks in Nova Scotia.  It was a wonderful break, even though the weather was less than ideal.

I did get some writing done while I was away.  Just before we left, I’d met with Beverley Slopen, my literary agent.  She’d read the first five chapters of the new novel manuscript and had some good advice to impart.  While in Nova Scotia, I reworked the first few chapters, incorporating some of her suggestions, and wrote a new chapter as well.  The progress is steady, but I’m feeling some pressure to get the manuscript written in time to meet my self-imposed fall deadline.  This will mean evening and weekend writing as I’m really focused and energized about my real job during the day.

Here’s a shot my wife took as I worked on the novel in the beautiful Irving Centre at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.  It may well my my favourite building in the world.  I wrote a few chapters of TBLP here, and now have written a chapter or two of the sequel there too.  (Forgive the golf shirt from the now very dated Garth Brooks line — I was on vacation!)

TF in Irving Centre

On the drive home, we spent two days in Montreal.  We took a tour of McGill University so that our older son, who has one more year of high school to go, could get a sense of this wonderful and history-rich school.  The Leacock Building was on the tour.  Yes, that Leacock.  Stephen Leacock taught economics at McGill.  In fact, it was the money earned from the economics text books he wrote that gave him the financial freedom to develop, write, and promote his humourous writings.  My wife couldn’t resist taking of shot of me in front of the Leacock Building.

TF at Leacock bldg McGill