Archive for the ‘Up and Down’ Category

I’m so inspired by Wally Funk today

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

This morning, I was glued to my screen watching as Blue Origin launched their first sub-orbital mission to space carrying Amazon and Blue Origin founder, Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, paying passenger 18 year-old Oliver Daemen from The Netherlands, and 82 year-old Wally Funk, one of the original Mercury 13 women who trained to be astronauts in the sixties but were never given the chance to fly. As a writer, I’m not a huge supporter of Amazon and Jeff Bezos, but his decision to invite Wally Funk to be part of this voyage to space was inspired and left me quite emotional about it all. For nearly her entire life, Wally Funk has dedicated herself to flying and reaching space. Barriers were thrown in her path every step of the way, yet today she was weightless in space, finally. Her journey is not unlike that of Landon Percival in my third novel, Up and Down. I’ve had a lot of emails in the last week or so about the symmetry of Wally Funk’s odyssey and Landon’s in the novel. Life imitating art, perhaps.


Up and Down (US)


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…

Up and Down somehow wins Evergreen Award

Monday, November 18th, 2013

I am feeling very lucky. I may just pick up a lottery ticket on my way home from the office. I found out late last week that Up and Down had been named the winner of the Ontario Library Association’s 2013 Evergreen Award for the best in fiction or nonfiction as voted by library patrons across Ontario. I’m honoured and thrilled. When the finalist list was announced last February, I was chuffed to have been included among so many wonderful writers. So I really wasn’t expecting to win (hence my lottery ticket purchase plan).

I do want to pay tribute to my fellow finalists and thank them for their wonderful books. I encourage you all to read these fine works. As well, I’m grateful to all of the library patrons who voted in the sixty different branches participating in the Evergreen Award.

Q&Q Evergreen


Up and Down hits the U.S. market tomorrow…

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Tomorrow, June 25th, the American edition of Up and Down hits bookstores south of the border. The new cover is quite similar, but eliminates the Canada Reads reference across the top of the Canadian version, and replaces the Marc Garneau blurb along the bottom with a lovely comment from U.S. broadcasting superstar, Ali Velshi. I think it’s a very clean and compelling cover. But then again, I’m biased. The book itself is a more traditionally-sized trade paperback, without the French flaps and the funky, unevenly cut pages. This version will also be available in Canada, replacing the original higher-end edition, starting tomorrow. Here’s hoping it triggers a sales resurgence here at home.

I have no idea how the novel will be received by American readers, or whether there will be deep penetration in bricks and mortar bookstores, although there was a nice Publishers Weekly review that may help. Time will tell. But it’s exciting to test another market. It’s also a bit early to know if I’ll be visiting the U.S. anytime soon to promote Up and Down. In the meantime, my fingers are crossed. Feel free to cross yours as well.

Writing Update

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Just thought I’d bring you up to date on my progress in writing my fourth novel, tentatively called No Relation. Having started the manuscript in the first week of January, I’m very happy with what I’ve been able to write thus far. As of today, I’ve written nearly 30,000 words with drafts of Chapters 1-5 completed. I anticipate the novel will have 17 or 18 chapters, so it feels good to have a solid chunk in the can already. Of course, the wheels could fall off my writing at any time. In fact, they probably will now that I’ve crowed about how well it’s all going! All things being equal, it feels like I should be able to finish the manuscript sometime in the summer.

I’m still happily very busy with readings and talks on my third novel, Up and Down, so the trick is to keep my butt in the chair in the time I have leftover and sustain the pace of my writing. I aim to complete one 5,000 word (approximately) chapter each week. Then I’ll  start back at the beginning to edit.  I’ll keep you posted.

BookManager releases bestsellers list for 2012

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

This is a thrill and a half. The fine folks at BookManager, the organization that tracks sales from independent booksellers across Canada, has released their annual list of the top-selling books of 2012. Narrowing the focus to this country, what an honour it is to have two of my books among the ten topselling Canadian novels of 2012. It’s wonderful to be on the list with two other Leacock winners, Will Ferguson and Patrick deWitt, my friend Eva Stachniak and so many other fantastic writers. It’s also nice to see that three of the top ten are comic novels. I’m not sure that’s happened in a long time. This is great and encouraging news as I dive into writing “No Relation, my fourth novel. Happy New Year? It certainly is…

Six years later…

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Each year for the last six, I’ve been enumerating the blessings in my writing life in an annual blog post. This is it for 2012. I have much for which to be thankful.

  • Great progress was made on the CBC Television miniseries based on the first half of The Best Laid Plans. Scripts for all six episodes, penned by the star writing team of Susan Coyne and Jason Sherman, have now been submitted to CBC. As for what happens next, it’s always a bit of a mystery, but I gather that when CBC is happy with the scripts, we then move on to things like casting, location scouting, and eventually shooting. Still not sure about timing, but it all seems to be on track. Fingers crossed.
  • This past spring, we signed agreements with Touchstone Theatre in Vancouver setting the stage, so to speak, for them to develop The Best Laid Plans as a stage musical. They have engaged Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Vern Thiessen and accomplished composer Bryce Kulak. This will likely take a couple of years, but it’s a thrill to be a fly on the wall as this creative process unfolds.
  • In September, Up and Down hit bookstores. We had a wonderful launch at the Dora Keogh pub here in Toronto. It was a great relief to have the novel so well received by critics and readers alike.
  • The Canadian Booksellers Association Canadian Fiction Bestseller List for the week ending September 15th showed Up and Down at #3, The Best Laid Plans at #7, and The High Road at #14.
  • In October, I did a twelve-day western book tour to promote Up and Down, with stops in Victoria, Calgary, Turner Valley, Banff, Edmonton, and St. Albert. It was the first time I had ever spent twelve consecutive days as a writer, and it was great.
  • Just a few weeks ago, it was confirmed that in the fall of 2013, Random House will publish/distribute Up and Down in the United States.
  • Just last night, New Year’s Day, I finished the 45-page outline for my fourth novel, tentatively entitled No Relation. I’ll  be starting to write the manuscript later this week. If all goes well, it’ll be published in September 2014.

I hope your 2012 was as rewarding and interesting as mine. Thanks to all those readers, book club members, festival-goers, friends, family, and perfect strangers who have helped me along the way, and there were many. I am truly grateful.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2013. Now, time to get writing…

Go west young man…

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

So I did. I’ve just returned from a 12-day book tour through western Canada, organized by the incomparable Frances Bedford, my publicist at McClelland & Stewart/Random House. It was really the first time in my writerly life that I’ve spent 12 consecutive days as a writer, without my day job intervening (well, mostly). And it was wonderful. It began in Victoria with a reading at the famous Bolen Books, organized by my friend and fellow writer, Robert Wiersema. It was a great event with a big crowd in a beautiful, big and independent book store. Afterwards, Robert and I had a great time catching up over dinner. The next day, it was off to Calgary for WORDfest, one of the largest writers’ festivals in Canada. I hosted and moderated a session called Lattes, Love and Laughter with Shauna Singh Baldwin, Billie Livingston, and Lorna Crozier. It was a fun event with lots of laughs sparked by these three very talented writers.

That evening, I was driven to the picturesque town of Turner Valley to give a talk and reading at their brand new library. What a great crowd and a great event. I signed a lot of books that night and I’m grateful.

After Turner Valley, it was off to The Banff Centre for four glorious days at what’s called the Summit Salon, communing with fellow writers and getting a big chunk of work done on my fourth novel. As you can imagine, the scenery was breathtaking, and more importantly, inspiring. I found it quite easy to spend large spans of time writing away amidst the mountains. I was also asked to write a guest post for The Banff Centre blog about my podcasting experiences. It was the least I could do. I hope that somewhere in my future is another visit to the Banff Centre.

Here’s a shot taken by Meghan Krauss, a photographer studying at The Banff Centre, to accompany the blog post. If you look past the figure marring the shot, you get just a glimpse of the beautiful scenery

Then after another day in Calgary doing media interviews and signing copies of Up and Down in various bookstores around town, I caught a flight for Edmonton. After a few more media and book signing stops, I gave a reading at the Chapters South Point store. Another warm crowd showed up and we had a good time.

My final event was in St. Albert, a suburb of Edmonton at their annual STARFest, the St. Albert’s Readers Festival. What a fun night it was. The prominent and popular Edmonton Journal columnist, Paula Simons, interviewed me on stage before I did a reading and then took questions from the floor. Paula asked some very insightful, even penetrating questions. I had to be on my toes, but thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Now my western swing is over and I’m trying to get back in the swing of things. But still lots of events to promote Up and Down. Off for readings in Bayfield tonight, and then Flesherton tomorrow night. And so it goes…


Up and Down: Chapter 17

Friday, September 21st, 2012

In Chapter 17, the final chapter in the novel, David Stewart makes an unexpected trip out to Cigar Lake B.C.

The novel is now available in bookstores or through online retailers including Amazon and Chapters-Indigo.

The voiceover that opens each episode of the podcast was provided by my friend, Roger Dey.

Comments are always invited and appreciated here on the blog, or over at iTunes, or via email to [email protected]

Thanks for listening to Up and Down.

Up and Down: Chapter 16

Friday, September 14th, 2012

In Chapter 16, Landon and the crew of the Aeres make a triumphant return to Earth, while David has a near-death experience when he makes it back into the Turner King offices in Toronto.

Next week, Chapter 17, the final chapter, as David makes an unscheduled trip out west.

The voiceover that opens each episode of the podcast was provided by my friend, Roger Dey.

Comments are welcome here on the blog, via email to [email protected], or over at iTunes.