Archive for the ‘University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies’ 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!

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!

Eight years later…

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

2014

It’s hard to believe, but eight years after writing my first blog post in this space, it’s time for my annual look back across the past year to reflect on how fortunate I’ve been in my writing life:

  • It was a very busy year on the talks/readings front. I gave 142 talks and/or readings in 2014, up from 137 last year. So much for my attempt to slow down a little bit. Again, my annual refrain, my deep appreciation for the patience and forbearance of my wife, Nancy Naylor, and our two sons, Calder and Ben. I truly believe these gigs are important in the never-ending quest to sell books, which, in turn, allows me to write another. My travels took me from Halifax to Vancouver, Sault Ste. Marie to Mexico City, and dozens of ports in between.
  • Starting in January, CBC Television aired the six-part miniseries based on my first novel, The Best Laid Plans. I loved it, and many others did, too. It pulled some very strong viewership numbers, but the travails at CBC, starting with the loss of Hockey Night in Canada, mean that, alas, there won’t be a second series. But we’ll always have six! I also enjoyed my brief cameo appearance in the final episode, though my phone has not been ringing off the hook for auditions.
  • At some point in the year, I can’t remember when, I became the 2014-2015 writer in residence for Hillfield Strathallan College in Hamilton. This isn’t that onerous an undertaking, but I’ve enjoyed my time at the school working with the students.
  • In May, my fourth novel, No Relation, hit bookstores and opened on the Globe and Mail Bestsellers list where it stayed for many weeks. I’ve been on the road promoting it ever since.
  • In the fall, I developed and taught the Humour Writing course at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. I teach the eight week course again starting in May, 2015.
  • I have just finished the manuscript for my fifth novel, Poles Apart. The last couple of chapters were written in Paris during a welcome vacation visit my wife and I made in November. We now move to the editing phase, as well as cover copy and design. It is slated for release on October 6, 2015. I’ll start to record and post the podcast version of Poles Apart sometime in July.

I’m sure I’ve missed some happenings from 2014, but I’m already focused on 2015 (I still can’t believe I just wrote 2015.). Looking ahead to July, I’ll be one of the writers on an Adventure Canada trip up the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As well, I’ll be participating in several literary festivals in various Canadian cities including Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and Eastport, Newfoundland. And my fifth novel, Poles Apart will hit bookstores in early October. Many thanks for all the support I’ve received from readers around the country. I’m grateful. Onwards and Happy New Year!

There’s still space open in my course at U of T…

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Starting next Wednesday evening, September 14th,  I’ll be teaching a course at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies in the Creative Writing program. The course is called How to Build an Audience for Your Writing. It runs for five Wednesday evenings and covers a range of techniques including blogging, podcasting, YouTube, Facebook, speaking gigs/readings, Twitter, and awards. The last session is a class reading, which was really wonderful in the first class. This is the second time I’ve taught the course. Last term we had about 25 writers in the class. It looks like the September enrollment is a little lighter, so there’s still plenty of room if you’d like to register. Click here or on the graphic below for more info on the course and how to register. Why not give it a shot?

Still space open in my U of T evening course…

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

I’ll be teaching a five week course on Wednesday nights starting June 1st for the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies as part of their Creative Writing program. The course is less about writing than it is about how to build an audience for your work. We’ll be exploring various ways to elevate the profile of your writing including blogging, podcasting, Twitter, speaking gigs, readings, and even awards. So if you’ve written the great Canadian novel but can’t get anyone to read it, you just might learn a thing or two to help you get noticed. I developed the course and this will be the first time I’ve actually taught it, although “taught” seems too formal a word. So spread the news or sign up yourself. I think we’ll have some laughs along the way.

Still spots open in my U of T evening course…

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

There remain a few spots open in the evening course I’m teaching at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. As you can see from the description above, the course is all about using social media and other techniques to  build an audience for your writing, whether you’re published or not. The course is only four Wednesday night sessions and starts on November 10th. You can register online here.

Trying my hand at teaching next fall…

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

There’s an old adage that “those who can’t do, teach.” Thankfully, I’ve never really subscribed to that notion. In fact, I’m going to try teaching a night course next November as part of the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies’ Creative Writing program. I’m not sure what the official name of the course will be, but here’s the description that will appear in the school’s next academic calendar:

My idea is to take what I’ve learned from promoting TBLP (such as it is), and share it with other writers who are looking for an audience. In my day job in public relations, I’ve really enjoyed the hundreds of hours of  media training and presentation skills training sessions I’ve led for clients over the last 15 years. I hope this course will have a similar informal and interactive vibe to it. It’ll be only four sessions in November, so I’ve plenty of time to get my act together (famous last words).

This all came about last fall at the suggestion of Kim Echlin, the Giller short-listed novelist. We were chatting about her love of teaching and she encouraged me to give it a try. She suggested I contact the novelist Lee Gowan, who heads the Creative Writing program at U of T’s School of Continuing Studies. I read his first two books (Make Believe Love, and The Last Cowboy) when they came out a few years ago, and I really enjoyed them both. So Lee and I met last November and came up with this idea for a new course on shameless self-promotion and audience-building. At our meeting, I brought him a copy of TBLP, and he kindly reciprocated with a copy of this third and most recent novel, Confession (love the cover, below).  I want to thank Lee for letting me try my hand at teaching. Very brave of him. If you’re interested in the course, there should be a new academic calendar available sometime in the coming months and it will have all the information you need to register. Stay tuned…