Archive for the ‘Beverley Slopen’ Category

McClelland & Stewart to publish The High Road

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

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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.

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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…

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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.

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Reflections on self-publishing

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

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Self-publishing TBLP was not my first choice.  After I finished writing it, I spent the better part of a year peddling my manuscript around to agents and publishers with nary a flicker of interest.  To many experienced writers, a year doesn’t seem a very long time, but I confess it did to me.  In December 2006 I could see no evidence that I’d ever interest anyone in my novel.  So it was not with excitement or anticipation that I signed up online with iUniverse to self-publish TBLP.  No, I laid down my money with disappointment and a clear sense of unfulfilled dreams.  But those feelings dissipated in time.  My calculation was a simple one.  I convinced myself (and I’m glad I did) that it would be easier to build an audience for my work, and interest agents and publishers if I could actually put a published book in their hands (okay, a self-published book that didn’t look like many self-published books).  I was, and still am, fully aware of the often well-earned stigma of self-published books.  For many readers, self-published works cry out that this writing, this story, this book, is just not worthy of mainstream publishing houses.  The common refrain from critics is that if the quality is there, it will eventually find a home with a publisher.  Intellectually I know this is not necessarily true.  But it’s been true often enough to entrench this belief.  I knew all of this, but went down the self-publishing road anyway, feeling that it at least gave me a chance to get my novel “out there.”

So what’s my view of self-publishing now?  Well despite the success of my rather unorthodox journey to the published land, self-publisihing still wouldn’t be my first choice.  Being published by a mainstream house brings so many benefits that it remains the goal to shoot for if you’re an aspiring writer (as I still consider myself to be).  But, if that route doesn’t pay off, self-publishing is an avenue worth considering if the circumstances are right.  As for my charmed year in 2008?  None of this would have happened had I not first self-published TBLP.  Were it not for the TBLP podcast and iUniverse, there would never have been the Leacock shock, Beverley Slopen, Doug Gibson and McClelland & Stewart, and all that has come since.  So self-publishing worked for me.  But because it has worked and I’ve somehow found a home with M&S, at least for TBLP, I’m hoping I won’t need to resort to self-publishing in the future.  And that was the point of trying it in the first place.  So, not necessarily self-publishing but self-publishing if necessary…

Two years later…

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Exactly twelve months ago today, I wrote a post on this blog entitled “One year later…“  The year before that, on December 26, 2006, I keyed in my Visa card number in the appropriate spaces on the iUniverse website and signed up to publish TBLP.  So in my post one year ago, I was reflecting on what an eventful year 2007 had been for me in my nascent life as a weekend writer, which culminated in the release of TBLP in September 2007.  Here’s a brief excerpt from that post exactly twelve months ago:

December 25th, 2007

“…One year later, my novel is widely available online. One year later, TBLP has won the (iUniverse) Editor’s Choice and the Publisher’s Choice honours. One year later, my podcast audience is still growing, and by the comments, still loving the story. One year later, I’ve had a successful Toronto launch and my first book signing. One year later, TBLP has aired on Radioropa, a leading European satellite radio network. One year later, every reader review, and the more formal published reviews have been so positive that most days, I tend to walk a few feet off the ground. One year later, more people have bought TBLP than I could ever have dreamed.”

I was clearly very happy one year ago as you can read.  Who knew that this year would be even better?  I had no idea that 2008 would bring such wonderful developments for me on the literary front.  Let me pick up where last year’s post left off:

December 25th, 2008

Two years later I was shocked and honoured to win the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.  Two years later I was thrilled to join the group of authors represented by the Beverley Slopen Literary Agency.  Two years later, Doug Gibson and McClelland & Stewart have published TBLP making it available in bookstores across Canada.  Two years later I’ve had the thrill of doing readings and speaking gigs at writers festivals with some of Canada’s finest writers including Joseph Boyden, Fred Stenson, Andrew Davidson and Bill Gaston.  Two years later, I’m nearly finished outlining the sequel to TBLP and almost ready to start writing again in earnest.

I certainly don’t mean for this to sound self-congratulatory in any way.  In fact, this is not a litany of accomplishments but rather a counting of blessings.  I write this with an almost overpowering sense of gratitude and a heaping helping of disbelief at my own good fortune.

Two years later, I’m drawn inexorably back to a phrase I blurted out in my impromptu Leacock acceptance speech last April, to describe how I felt about my surprise win.  It remains for me the most apt description, not just of the Leacock shock, but of the whole year.  2008 has been a head-on collision of shock and joy.

And looking ahead to 2009, it’s back to late nights with my laptop, trying to do it all over again with the sequel.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year…

My CEO TV Debut…

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

About a month ago, the good folks at CEO TV shot a segment about TBLP and my day job as a PR professional. They also sent a camera crew up to Orillia for the Leacock Award weekend to help round out the segment. Well, it aired nationally on Global a week or so ago and in case you need a laugh, you can watch it here…

McClelland & Stewart to publish TBLP

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008


I’m certain I’ve now exhausted my lifetime allocation of good fortune. Yesterday my wonderful agent, Beverley Slopen, confirmed that McClelland & Stewart will publish TBLP as one of its fall releases. M&S is the heavyweight Canadian publishing house with a long and rich history. What’s more, Douglas Gibson, yes the Douglas Gibson, will not only work with me on the manuscript, but the novel will actually be published under his prestigious imprint, Douglas Gibson Books. To me, this outcome is kind of like aiming to win the high school track meet, but instead ending up going to the Olympic Games and bringing home a gold medal. Doug is probably the most respected editor/publisher in the country having worked closely with some of Canada’s and the world’s leading literary lights including Robertson Davies, Alice Munro, and W.O. Mitchell to name but a few. I am over the moon.

As the Globe and Mail article below mentions, there is some irony in this most welcome outcome. Doug and I are actually friends, because our respective wives are close friends. I’ve so enjoyed the times the four of us have spent together. When you’re a passionate reader and weekend writer, nothing is more enjoyable than listening to Doug’s wonderful stories from his illustrious publishing career. It was a discussion with Doug three or four years ago about three-time Leacock Medal winner Donald Jack that ultimately got me off the couch and writing TBLP. Until last week, I’d never really spoken to Doug about my novel. I can only imagine how often he is accosted at parties or conferences by writers hoping that he’ll review their manuscripts. So I chose not to talk about my writing with Doug so as not to complicate the wonderful relationship we have. But after the Leacock Medal, Beverley Slopen did make an approach and the publishing deal was consummated yesterday. I could not be happier and I’m so looking forward to working with Doug.

The M&S edition of The Best Laid Plans, with new cover and interior design, will be launched this fall. I’m counting the days…

The Globe and Mail to review TBLP

Friday, April 18th, 2008

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Well, things are starting to happen courtesy of the Leacock Medal shortlist.  The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, will soon be reviewing TBLP in the pages of its wonderful weekend Books section.  I’m thrilled but ever since I found out, my stomach has been in knots.  My agent, Beverley Slopen, told me not to worry about what they may write.  What’s important is that the Globe is actually reviewing it.  Fingers crossed.

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Media coverage in Leacock’s wake

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Since TBLP was named a finalist for the Leacock Medal for Humour, there’s been a trickle of media coverage beyond the initial shortlist stories. A story appeared in the McMaster University Online Daily News written by the writer Mark Leslie (Lefebvre) who plays a senior role at the McMaster University Bookstore called Titles. Mark’s been a strong supporter of TBLP and I thank him for his efforts:

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As well, a front page article ran yesterday in the online version of Quill & Quire, Canada’s magazine of book news and reviews. This is a subscription based article so I won’t cut and paste the whole article, but here’s the first couple of paragrahps. I was very happy with the piece:

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I may have more to report on the media front in a short while. Onwards!

First Leacock, now an agent!

Friday, April 4th, 2008

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Beverley Slopen is a leading and respected literary agent based in Toronto. She represents some outstanding writers including Howard Engel, Robert Fulford, Donna Morrissey, Morley Torgov (a Leacock Medal winner), and William Weintraub. My friend Mike Tanner is also in her stable. It seems that now I am too.

A year or so back, Beverley was very kind to me as I was trying to make my way through the world of mainstream publishing . She freely offered good advice, which I dutifully followed. We stayed in touch and I kept her up to date on my publishing travails. I e-mailed her again earlier this week and we met for a drink at the bar in the lobby of the Four Seasons. The upshot is, I know have the only agent I ever really wanted and I’m thrilled. In the three days since our initial meeting, a national news release has been issued, and review copies of TBLP have been hand-delivered to four major mainstream publishers courtesy of Beverley’s relationships in the publishing world. It’s a wonder to watch her work. Who knows what may come of it, but the goal is to find a home for TBLP with a publishing house so that it will gain much broader distribution than it currently enjoys.

The next 26 days promise to be a whirlwind as we try to capitalize on my Leacock Medal shortlist status. It’s been quite a ride so far…