Archive for the ‘Doug Gibson’ Category

The great Ian Ferguson “blurbs” The High Road

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Ian Ferguson is wonderful writer and a very funny guy. I read his Leacock-winning book, Village of the Small Houses, some years ago, so I was thrilled to meet Ian at last year’s Leacock Luncheon. What a great guy. We’ve maintained contact via email and Facebook ever since. In a cool twist, Ian’s book and TBLP later shared 10th place on the CBC Book Club’s top Ten Books to Make You Laugh list last April.

When it came time to invite prominent Canadians to read the manuscript of The High Road and provide what they call in the publishing biz, “blurbs,” I thought of approaching Ian. He could not have been more gracious and readily agreed.

I was a little nervous when I knew the manuscript was in his hands. But he knocked me for a loop earlier this week when his official “blurb” arrived. Here’s what he wrote:

  • “In a perfect world, the federal government would establish a Ministry of Humour and put Terry Fallis in charge of that department.  THE HIGH ROAD is brilliantly written and hysterically funny.  You are cautioned not to attempt to read it in a public setting, since you will laugh – audibly - to a disturbing degree and many people will find this annoying.  Trust me on this.  And if you, like myself, enjoy reading in bed, be prepared for spousal banishment.  Apparently loud bursts of laughter make it difficult for your bed partner to fall asleep.  Who knew, eh?  Worth it, though.  Terry Fallis manages to top his first novel THE BEST LAID PLANS with this relentlessly enjoyable follow-up.  No small feat, since the original won the Stephen Leacock Medal .  Do yourself a favour and pick up this book, find a quiet place to read it, and enjoy…you will laugh out loud on almost every single page.”
Ian Ferguson author of VILLAGE OF THE SMALL HOUSES
How cool is that? Douglas Gibson and the team at McClelland & Stewart will likely use a portion of it to appear on the back cover of The High Road. The early suggestion is:
  • “In a perfect world, the federal government would establish a Ministry of Humour and put Terry Fallis in charge of that department.  THE HIGH ROAD is brilliantly written and hysterically funny. You will laugh out loud on almost every single page.”

Ian Ferguson author of VILLAGE OF THE SMALL HOUSES

I had to sit down after reading Ian’s kind words. I’m humbled and honoured that he would be so supportive. Here’s a shot of Ian and me at last year’s Leacock Luncheon in Orillia.

Enjoyed Toronto Premiere of Robertson Davies Play

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

As I’ve noted several times already in this space, Robertson Davies is one of my literary heroes. His novels were among the first to show me that literary prose, compelling stories, and deeply developed characters could coexist with a heaping helping of humour. John Irving also helped enlighten me on that score. That Robertson Davies and I appear together on the list of Leacock Medal Winners (he in 1955, for Leaven of Malice) still sends a tremor through me when I think of it. In December 1995, shortly after his death, my wife and I attended Robertson Davies’ memorial service in Convocation Hall at the University of Toronto. It was the first time I’d ever laid eyes on Douglas Gibson, Davies’ longtime editor, and miraculously, now mine. Last night, some 14 years later, my wife and I attended Robertson Davies: The Peeled I at the wonderful Hart House Theatre, just across the quadrangle from Convocation Hall. It was a one man show featuring Reed Needles as RD. He bears a striking resemblance to the great writer. We thoroughly enjoyed the play. It only runs for a couple days, so if you’re a Davies fan and are anywhere near Toronto, check it out.

Here’s the photo of Robertson Davies that hangs in our third floor library, supervising my writing. Whenever I hit a dry spell or am struggling with a sentence, I look up at this photo for inspiration. Then I get back at it…

Writing Update: Final manuscript submitted

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

My editor, Doug Gibson, dropped by yesterday morning with the final version of the manuscript for The High Road. He’d wanted me to see and approve a couple of dozen or so added commas and other punctuation changes to put the book to bed. It took me less than an hour last night to walk through the entire manuscript, searching for Doug’s modest pencil edits. So it’s really done now. Well, you think it’s finally done, but it’s never really done until it’s sitting on a bookstore shelf. But the final manuscript is now handed over to one of McClelland & Stewart’s skilled copy editors. As Doug describes it, it’s the copy editor’s job to make Doug and me look like idiots by discovering many errors in syntax, grammar, spelling, and continuity that neither Doug nor I caught the first 47 times we’d reviewed the manuscript. And rest assured, additional minor edits will arise as we wend our way towards publication. That’s just how this works. But, it feels good to have reached this stage, and before our deadline too. The manuscript isn’t contractually due to M&S until January 11th.

This copy editing phase apparently should not take too long. Then they’ll format and lay out the book block, as it’s called. This is how the inside of the book will look when it’s finally published. We’ll then print out several copies on 8.5 x 11 inch paper and send them around to literary luminaries who might read it and pass favourable judgement on the novel. Ultimately, we’re looking for endorsements that can be quoted in publicity materials, and even on the book itself. Finally, they’ll move into cover design. Doug Gibson’s idea is that The High Road should look like a companion novel to TBLP. So there will almost certainly be graphic and thematic elements from TBLP’s cover that will be found in the cover design for its sequel. I find the publishing process to be endlessly fascinating, so I’m looking forward to what comes next. Still, we’re at least eight months away from the release of The High Road. That’s just how long it all takes. Sigh.

This has all gotten me thinking about what may come next. So I spent this past Friday mapping out novel #3. (And that’s what it’s called at this stage, Novel #3.) It’s not part of the Angus canon, but is something new. I’m enjoying plotting the story, but it still needs more time just steeping in my head before I’m ready to start the formal outlining and chapter notes, let alone the actual writing. Strange not to have Angus in my head, but I’m sure he’ll return…

Three years later…

Friday, December 25th, 2009

For the last two years, on Christmas Day, I’ve posted about what has happened in my humble life since I signed up with iUniverse on Boxing Day in 2006 to self-publish my first novel. Every year at this time I re-read those two annual posts, One year later… and Two years later…. This year is no different. I just had a walk through those earlier two posts and find myself yet again counting my blessings. In my sideline life as a writer, it would be hard to top 2008. But I’ve had a wonderful time in 2009 and taken a few more strides down the writerly road. TBLP continues to sell well even though it’s been on bookstore shelves since September 2008. I also kept up a steady stream of readings, signings, and talks about the novel and the strange way it came into print. I think I’m up to about 60 book-related gigs since the Leacock Shock, with more being added steadily. Many authors dislike the “book tour” part of promoting their works. I, on the other hand, really enjoy getting out there and meeting those who have read the novel. It helps that most who read TBLP seem to like it, or at least they don’t dislike it enough to say nasty things to the author’s face. I’ve loved doing book clubs and public library readings, and bookstore signings. For me, that’s the fun part.

The big achievement in 2009 was outlining and then writing the sequel to TBLP, called The High Road. It was a great joy to write, and a great relief to finish, the sequel. It took about the same length of time to write as TBLP. What’s more, as 2009 wound down, McClelland & Stewart and my editor Douglas Gibson, agreed to publish The High Road in September 2010. Needless to say, in these uncertain times in the publishing world, I’m thrilled. In 2010, I became more active on Twitter and enjoyed connected with many writers and readers in this way. You can find/follow me on Twitter (@TerryFallis).

So I couldn’t be happier as 2009 draws to a close. My day job at Thornley Fallis has been busy and satisfying, and it’s shaping up to be a very fulfilling year professionally. On the writing front, the final manuscript for The High Road is due at M&S on January 11th so I’m in final tweaking mode. Then the focus moves to cover design and cover copy etc. Finally, I’m about ready to start outlining my third novel, as yet unnamed. It will not be another installment in the lives of Angus McLintock and Daniel Addison (although I expect I’m not through with those two yet). The characters and plot are still steeping in my mind but the general story line is there. It’s not as narrowly focused as my first two and I hope it might appeal to a broader audience. I think I’ll leave it at that for now. But it will be another satire.

All the best in 2010 and thanks for a year of encouragement and kind words from so many!

McClelland & Stewart to publish The High Road

Sunday, December 13th, 2009


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.


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…

McMaster’s Historical Perspectives on Canadian Publishing

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Mac logo

I’ve just stumbled upon a fascinating resource for anyone interested in the history of publishing in Canada. Created at McMaster University, my beloved alma mater, Historical Perspectives on Canadian Publishing is a web-based cornucopia of information, letters, essays, articles, photographs, and audio recordings about publishing in Canada. There are nearly 100 interesting case studies in the following different categories:

It really is a must-visit site if you’re interested in the world of publishing in Canada. My own editor Douglas Gibson figures prominently, and there are even scans of letters he’s sent off to one of his treasured authors, Alice Munro and a letter he received from another of his authors, the late, great Robertson Davies, one of my literary heroes. Doug had mentioned to me that he’d donated his papers to McMaster and clearly they are being put to good use.

In my travels within the site, I even found an article about Helen Humphreys by Kiley Kapuscinski that discusses her travails finding a publisher. Stephen Leacock‘s self-published but very successful 1910 book, Literary Lapses, was cited as an historical example of good works being overlooked by the publishers of the day. Then, I was quite surprised to find that I am actually mentioned in the article as a modern example of a writer who had faced challenges breaking in to the publishing world. I had no idea. Very cool. Here’s the brief excerpt:

McMaster Publishing Study graphic

Manuscript has been submitted…

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

manuscript image

Last weekend, I finished polishing the manuscript of The High Road, the sequel to TBLP. It felt very good to close the document and send it off to my agent Beverley Slopen. My wonderful editor/publisher Douglas Gibson at McClelland & Stewart still has to read the second half of the novel and I’m sure he’ll have some edits and suggestions as he did on the first half. So the process is not yet complete, but we’re getting closer. Provided he has no major issues with how the story unfolds, (and I suppose he might), we’re really in the home stretch now.

Believe it or not, I was actually jotting down notes today for my third novel. I think I’ll be taking a break from Angus and Daniel for the next book. An idea is steeping and fermenting in my head. It needs to rattle around for a while yet but there’s something there. Thinking, thinking, thinking…


…thinking, thinking, thinking…

Writing Update: Getting so close now…

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009


I’ve told my editor/publisher Douglas Gibson that I’ll have the completed manuscript to him by October 31st. So I thought it was time for another update. (Anything to distract me from actually finishing the book!)

I’m actually quite far along now and feeling good. It seems to go faster when the finish line is in sight. There are 20 chapters in The High Road, and I’ve just started to write Chapter 18. Yes, only two and a half chapters to go and I’m done. Well, not so fast. Actually, when I finish Chapter 20, I’ll then go back to the beginning and take another pass through it all to edit and polish. But I’ll make my Halloween deadline. Doug has already reviewed the first 60,000 words or so and has made some suggestions that I’ll incorporate. Mercifully, there are only minor edits to make and he’s quite pleased with what he’s seen so far. So I’m breathing again.

Usually, if we’re not too busy on weekends, I can write a first draft of an entire 5,000 word chapter from Friday night to Sunday evening. And it almost always happens on weekends when I can carve out several hours at a time to write. I don’t seem to be able to get much writing done during the week after a long day at the office. So thanks to my very indulgent and understanding family, I able to sequester myself in our third floor library for long stretches on Saturdays and Sundays. I’ll report in again when Chapter 20 is in the books (as it were).

Who was that mystery guest on The House?

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

Just before Christmas I had a call from the producer of CBC Radio‘s wonderful public affairs program, The House.  It was time for their annual book show and I was asked if I would be their “mystery guest” for the show.  She went on to say she would record me over the phone giving some clues as to my identity.  (You never suggest to a podcaster that you’ll be recorded over the phone!  I immediately offered to record my clues and the big reveal message on my own and forward her the MP3 — much better audio quality than a phone recording.)  I followed the instructions and dutifully recorded my two segments.  The “clues” aired on December 27th (you can hear it here if you scroll back to the December 27th show).  In a curious twist of fate, my amazing editor/publisher Douglas Gibson was interviewed in the program about his experience editing the memoirs of three Canadian Prime Ministers, Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, and most recently, Paul Martin.  As usualy, he was witting and thoughtful.  You can hear Doug’s interview here (just scroll back to the December 27th show and then jump ahead to the 37:40 mark in the show). The second clip wherein I reveal my identity just aired this morning.  Lots of fun.

Reflections on self-publishing

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008


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…