Archive for the ‘Margaret Atwood’ Category

Ten years later…

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

2016-a

Early January is traditionally when I take a reflective look back across the preceding year and give thanks for all the good fortune that still seems to be trailing me around in my now ten year old life as a novelist. I do find it hard to believe that a decade has elapsed since I started this blog and began podcasting my first novel, The Best Laid Plans. A decade! If you’d told me back in 2007 that ten years later McClelland & Stewart would be publishing my sixth novel, One Brother Shy, I’d at least have scoffed if not collapsed in hysterics. Yet here we are.

2016 was another eventful year in my writerly life:

  • I slowed down a bit more on the readings, signings, and talks front. I logged 75 appearances, down from over a hundred in 2015. This wasn’t really a conscious decrease, but just seemed to work out that way. (It’s of course possible that people are growing tired of me.) However, I did seem to travel to a few more exotic locales including visits to Whitehorse, Galiano and Pender Islands, Cape Breton Island, and, of all places, the United Arab Emirates.
  • November was an unprecedented month of travel for me, though only one stint of the voyage was book-related. I happily spent time in New York, Orlando, Paris, and the aforementioned United Arab Emirates. I was in UAE for the Sharjah International Book Fair. I spoke at the American University of Sharjah and then, likely for the one and only time in my life, sat on a panel at the book fair where the language was Arabic and I was given headphones for simultaneous translation. It was a fascinating experience.

I think that about wraps up the highlights of another busy year. I’m hard at work planning my seventh novel as we head into 2017 and hope to be writing the manuscript by the time One Brother Shy is released in May. In March, I’ll be starting to podcast One Brother Shy, chapter-by-chapter, as is my practice. It’ll be available as a free download on iTunes and this blog. I also have some travel coming up later in the spring with a seven day reading tour of the Gulf Islands off BC’s west coast. I’ll also likely be teaching my Humour Writing course at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies starting later this month.

Happy New Year!

A wonderful evening with Margaret Atwood

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

IMG_0844

I’m a little tardy recording this memorable event, but better late than never. Back in May, Margaret Atwood invited me to be the speaker at an annual fundraiser in Windsor in support of the Pelee Island Bird Observatory, an organization to which Margaret and her husband, Graeme Gibson, are deeply committed. I was honoured to be there. Margaret introduced me, which was a surreal experience. I imagine it would be similar to a rookie singer-songwriter being introduced by Paul McCartney, only more so.

I managed to get through my talk and it all seemed to go well. I noted that two very big highlights of my writing life had been when Margaret had tweeted favourably about my first novel, The Best Laid Plans, and then again about my current novel, Poles Apart. It was not just extraordinarily gratifying when she did this, but it gave me a big sales kick as she currently has over 1.2 million followers.

Margaret Atwood tweet re TBLP

Atwood Tweet re Poles Apart

I sat with Margaret for dinner and then again after the event for a signing. An experience I’ll not soon forget.

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!

My first virtual e-book signing…

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

This was kind of neat. Margaret Atwood has a stake in a company called iDolVine that has created software and a social networking site that allows authors  to meet virtually with book lovers, and then inscribe their ebook  remotely. I tried it out yesterday for an event organized by the bookstore at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, while I was sitting in my office here in Toronto. It all worked very well. A steady stream of customers (well it was steady for a few minutes!) sat down in the hotseat and pulled on the headset so we could chat for a few minutes through cyberspace. Then at what seemed like the appropriate moment, I inscribed the cover of my second novel, The High Road using a stylus and a tablet computer. Then I hit the “Send” button and the electronic image was sent to the customer’s email address. I’m told that when the system is fully developed, the inscribed cover of the novel will actually be embedded directly into the customer’s ebook stored in his/her online library, whether it’s with Kobo, Kindle,  iBooks, or other ebook services. Slick!

Five years later…

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Time to look back on my writing year, as I’ve done annually since starting this blog back in January, 2007. It was another year of counting my literary blessings. Here are a few highlights that made 2011 such a memorable year for me:

As you can see, it was a very happy fifth year in my life as a writer. I am one, very grateful novelist.

Looking ahead, there’s more excitement coming in 2012. First and foremost, my third novel will hit bookstore shelves in September. Beyond that, who knows?

 

Just one more surreal TBLP moment…

Monday, December 26th, 2011

A few weeks ago at the Writers’ Trust Gala, I chatted for a few minutes with Margaret Atwood. Yes, Margaret Atwood. If you’d told me three years ago that in November of 2011 I’d actually be speaking with Margaret Atwood, I’d have scoffed until I had no scoffs left to offer. I’m still amazed that I managed to construct complete sentences and not fall down throughout the brief but memorable (for me) conversation. Margaret (I dared not use “Peggy,” which I assume is reserved for closer acquaintances) left me flabbergasted when she said that several audience members at a reading she’d given recently in Picton, Ontario had suggested strongly to her that she read both of my novels. She went on to note that they were so eager to ensure her compliance that the titles of my first two novels were dutifully written down on a piece of paper and given to her lest she forget them. As she conveyed this miraculous story, I did my best to plaster a modest smile on my face even as what felt like a hockey game broke out in my stomach and my heart rate soared into the red zone. I thanked her and let her move on to the throng of fans gathering on the periphery of our conversation. I then sat down for a moment to… well, to recover. Eventually I collected my wits that were strewn about me on the floor, stood up, and ventured into the reception. It was a lovely night, but my brief exchange with Margaret Atwood was certainly a highlight.

Our encounter came back to me this morning when I opened Twitter on my iPad to get caught up on all the news. Of course I’m one of Margaret Atwood’s nearly 289,000 followers. I had to sit back down again when this Tweet passed through in my Twitter stream:

I guess she kept that piece of paper from Picton. What a thrilling way to close out a wonderful year in my still fledgling life as a writer. Well, twelve hours later, I’m still sitting down. Tomorrow I may try to stand up, but I don’t want to rush it…