Archive for the ‘Leacock Medal’ Category

Poles Apart is a Finalist for the 2016 Leacock Medal

Friday, May 6th, 2016

2016 Leacock shortlist

I’m having trouble breathing right now. I just discovered that Poles Apart is one of three finalists for the 2016 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. I can hardly believe it. I was thrilled to be on the long list unveiled last week, but had convinced myself that I would not be among the finalists this year. (I think it’s a natural self-defence mechanism that just kicks in.)

The Leacock Medal changed my life as a writer back in 2008, so this means a great deal to me. My pal from out west, Susan Juby, is also a finalist for her hysterical novel, Republic of Dirt. She’s on a roll having just won the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize. I’ve read Susan’s novel and loved it. In fact, when I finished it, I remember visualizing Susan accepting the Leacock Medal. And Sarah Mian is the other finalist for her debut novel, When the Saints. I haven’t read it yet but it sure made a splash when it hit bookstores last year. I’ll be reading Sarah’s novel next. I look forward to seeing, and laughing with, both Susan and Sarah in June. Wonderful, wonderful…

2016 Leacock Long List includes Poles Apart

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

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I was thrilled to learn yesterday that Poles Apart has been long listed for the 2016 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. I’m in great company this year with Patrick DeWitt, Charlie Demers, Stuart McLean, and Susan Juby all in the running, along with some other fine writers. The short list of three will be unveiled on Friday, May 6th, with the winner to be announced at the annual Leacock gala in June. With all these other wonderful writers in the play, I’m truly grateful to have made the long list.

As for what may lie ahead, I’m studiously not thinking about it. What will be, will be…

A new edition of No Relation

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

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I just received a few copies of the new edition of No Relation. It’s due to hit bookstores in the next couple of weeks. I’ll miss the bears on the front cover of the original edition, but it seems the folks at McClelland & Stewart are trying to create a common look for my novels as this cover matches in general format of the cover of Poles Apart. Looks good to me!

Nine years later…

Friday, January 1st, 2016

2015

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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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!

Taiwan edition of No Relation to be released

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

The Taiwan edition of No Relation hits bookstores in, as you might expect, Taiwan, on October 21st, just one day after my fifth novel, Poles Apart, is released in Canada. And no, I have no idea why we landed a publishing deal in Taiwan, I mean beyond the tireless efforts of my literary agent, Beverley Slopen, and her global network of affiliates. But I’m glad we have a foreign publishing deal! Here’s the cover of No Relation in Taiwan.

Taiwan cover

No Relation to get new cover for 2nd edition

Monday, October 5th, 2015

The second edition of No Relation is due to be released in paperback form (with no flaps) on April 26, 2016. While I love the front cover of the original edition and its clever bear metaphor, I quite like the new cover the design wizards at McClelland & Stewart have come up with. As I understand it, the idea is to bring the second edition more in line with the design of Poles Apart. Makes sense to me. Here’s the new cover for No Relation:

No Relation Paperback Cover Final

The Best Laid Plans: A Musical

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Poster

It’s been four years in the making, but opening night is just two days away. This is the novel that keeps on giving. After the CBC Television miniseries, I never dreamed I’d be flying with my family to Vancouver for the premiere of The Best Laid Plans: A Musical. But we leave tomorrow morning. We’ll attend the preview Friday night, and then the official premiere on Saturday night. I’m giving a talk before the Sunday matinee and I’ll probably stay and watch it a third time.

I really must thank Peter Jorgensen, Katrina Dunn, Vern Thiessen, Ben ElliotAnton Lipovetsky, and the rest of the cast and crew for taking The Best Laid Plans from page to stage. I cannot wait to see the show that these talented theatre pros have mounted. Once again, I note how lucky and blessed I’ve been with my first novel that I never thought would ever see the light of day in print, let alone on television and now on stage. (That sound you hear is me counting my blessings.)

Here are some shots from an actual performance.

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Here a shot taken last fall at the Vancouver International Writers Festival with Vern, Anton, and Ben.

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The Leacock Medal: Humbled in Orillia

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

TF at Leacock Luncheon

 

I didn’t think I could be any more shocked than when I miraculously won the 2008 Leacock Medal for The Best Laid Plans. Wrong. When my name was called from the podium this afternoon in Orillia as the winner of the 2015 Leacock Medal for No Relation, I really didn’t know what had hit me. Had I heard correctly? Was that my name? Yes, and yes. I honestly didn’t think I was going to win. I can’t really explain why I felt that way, but I was convinced it wouldn’t happen this time around. And I was quite happy with that. I was thrilled to be a finalist. But it was in fact my name I’d just heard. It was.

I stood up, walked to the podium, shook hands with Leacock Associates President Mike Hill, and then strung together an ill-prepared (actually, ill-prepared is generous — it was unprepared) assembly of sentences to try to express my deep gratitude for this unexpected honour. I’m still processing it all, but suffice it to say that I’m over the moon. As I said in  my impromptu acceptance remarks, all roads in my writing life lead straight to Orillia and the Leacock Medal. I suspect that every Leacock winner in the award’s 68 year history has been grateful. How could they not be? But I can pretty well guarantee that no winner has been more grateful than I.

The 2015 Leacock Medal Shortlist – I’m honoured

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

2015 shortlist graphic

 

Up in Orillia this morning, the wonderful folks who kindle the Leacock flame in this country unveiled the shortlist for the 2015 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, one of Canada’s oldest literary awards. I was thrilled to see No Relation on the shortlist along with some very funny books by some very accomplished writers. My friend Zarqa Nawaz, the creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie, made the cut, along with one of my Canadian music heroes, Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea. I’ve loved his singing and songwriting for years. I only hope I might get to meet him now that his memoir has been named a finalist.

It’s hard for me to believe that each of my novels has been a finalist for this very special recognition. Anyone who claims it never feels quite as good after the first time is flat out wrong. That principle may apply to other pivotal events in our lives, but for literary awards, I’m just as tickled today as I was back in 2008 when I was Leacock virgin, as it were.

I offer my humble gratitude to the judging panel. I’m over the moon and look forward to attending the Orillia luncheon on April 30th, not just to find out who wins, but also to hang out with the warm and friendly guardians of Leacock’s Legacy. Deep thanks all around and my congratulations to my fellow finalists. It’s great to be in their company. They’ve all written worthy works that we should all read.

I must lie down now. The excitement of the day has taken its toll…

My talk to the Ontario Writers’ Conference

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Earlier this year, I was invited to give the closing address at the Ontario Writers’ Conference. It was not one of the standard talks I often give about one or another of my books or my strange journey to the published land. So I was a little nervous about it. Anyway, for what it’s worth, you can watch it here if you’re interested or suffer with insomnia…