Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Tag, I’m it, on the CanLit Blog Hop

Monday, September 1st, 2014

My friend and fellow writer Farzana Doctor ‘tagged’ me for this CanLit blog hop challenge. No ice bucket is required. I’m to answer the four questions below (check), and then ‘tag’ two other writers (still working on it) to take the challenge. So here goes:

1. What am I working on?

I’m about 20,000 words into writing my fifth novel, tentatively called Poles Apart. It’s my pro-feminist comic novel. You can see feminist themes lurking in the background of my first four novels, but they’re front and centre in my fifth. Feminism has been a long-term interest of mine. If all goes well, we expect publication by McClelland & Stewart in the fall of 2015.

2. How does my differ from others of its genre?

Well, I’ve yet to unearth any other feminist comic novels, but I’d love to find one. (Drop me a line if you know of others I should be reading.) Beyond that, I’m at a loss to describe how my novels are different from other funny novels except perhaps that I wrote them and they’re in my voice. Kind of a thin response to this question, I know, but there you have it.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I’m a member in good standing of the ‘write what you know‘ school of writing (except for the S&M scene in my first novel). There are pieces of me and pieces of my life strewn about the pages of my novels. Not so much in an autobiographical sense. But I just find it easier to write with authority, conviction, and authenticity if I’m writing about things I know about, or care about. In short, it’s easier for me to “feel” the story, and then write it.

4. How does my writing process work?

How good of you to suggest that my writing process works! I’m an engineer by academic training. Engineers don’t build bridges without blueprints, and I don’t write novels without blueprints. I’m a big time planner or outliner. Writing the manuscript is the very last stage in my so-called process. By that time, I know nearly all there is to know about the story. It’s captured in a 40-70 page chapter-by-chapter outline that guides the writing of the actual manuscript. A nearly-fulltime day job means that I don’t write everyday. I write when I can. In writing mode, I can usually sustain a pace of one 5,000 word chapter each week until the novel is written.

I’ve reached out to a couple other writers and I hope in a few weeks you’ll see their responses to these questions.

Now, back to my manuscript…

Update: The great writer Patrick Bowman has accepted the challenge. One down, one to go. Stay tuned…

I’m out of the blocks on my 5th novel…

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Out of the blocksLooking back through the archives of this blog, I seem to have a tradition of announcing when I’ve actually started writing the manuscript for each of my novels. You see, the writing is the very last step in the process for me. I spend a long time, many months, concocting the story, mapping it out, and finally developing a full, chapter-by-chapter outline. This means that when it’s time to write, I really only have to focus on crafting sentences. I know the story already.

Well, I’m pleased to report that I have officially started writing the manuscript for my fifth novel, tentatively called Poles Apart. I’m about 10,000 words in, with about 90,000 more to go. It’s always a good feeling when the actual writing starts. The story and characters instantly feel more real to me, which makes it easier to put words to my outline. Poles Apart continues the exploration of family dynamics I began in No Relation (though the two novels are not connected in any way), and also indulges my long-standing interest in gender equality. Feminism has lurked in the background of my four earlier novels, but takes a more prominent role in Poles Apart. I tend to write about what I know, or have experienced, or care about. This new novel is no exception. Gender equality has been an important social issue to me since my days in the student movement in the early 1980s. As in my first two novels, both political satires, I’ll try not to veer over the line into preaching and proselytizing, but I may not always succeed. Rather, the plan is to let the funny story and the quirky characters carry the social message, I hope with a light touch. So I see this novel as satire, not pure comedy. But in the end, you’ll be the judge of the that.

The hope is that I’ll finish the manuscript by early in 2015 so that McClelland & Stewart can publish and release the novel in the fall of 2015. Now, back to writing…

“Blurbs” for No Relation

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

It’s always very gratifying when other writers and prominent people agree to read your manuscript, and then offer glowing words to adorn the cover of your book. I tend to read these “blurbs” when I’m buying books, and I think others do too. So you can imagine how honoured I am to share the three blurbs that will be featured somewhere on the front or back covers of my new novel, No Relation, due to be published by McClelland & Stewart May 20, 2014.

“Terry Fallis writes with a light touch and fine sense of the inherent humanity of humour, while still addressing one of the biggest questions we all have to face: Who are you? Who are you really?”

Will Ferguson, author of 419, winner of the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize

“Born of a cheerful mood and a clever mind, Terry Fallis’s No Relation is an endearing book with a big heart.”

Trevor Cole, author of Practical Jean, winner of the 2011 Leacock Medal

“Terry Fallis is a brilliant and very funny writer who also understands the human heart. His words will split your side on one page, and put a lump in your throat on the next. You’ll not only come to like his quirky characters, you’ll want to meet them, and take care of them, too. Terry Fallis is a writer to watch, and more importantly, to read.”

Ali Velshi, host of Real Money on Al Jazeera America

I’m feeling very fortunate. My heartfelt thanks to Will, Trevor, and Ali for sticking their necks out on my behalf…

Seven years later…

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014


While it seems impossible that seven years have escaped since I created this blog, the date staring back at me on my iPhone must be right. It’s New Year’s Day, and time for the annual accounting of my literary blessings in the gift that was 2013. Here are at least some of the highlights that made 2013 such a great year in my writing life:

  • I squeezed in 137 speaking engagements, readings, talks, etc. in 2013, up from 121 last year. I really don’t know how I fit everything in but it would not be possible without the patience and forbearance of my wife and two sons. My travels took me all over the country including, Vancouver, Calgary, Whitehorse, Ottawa, Montreal, Banff, and every region of Ontario.
  • Work continues on the stage musical of The Best Laid Plans but there’s no word on when it might be finished, let alone staged. Stay tuned.
  • In June, I was shocked to be named the winner of the 2013 Libris Award for Author of the Year, presented by the Canadian Booksellers Association. I’ll be forever grateful.
  • Up and Down continued to sell well, and the second edition hit the U.S. market in late June.

It was quite a year. Looking ahead to 2014, I’m really focused on:

  • The Best Laid Plans TV miniseries on CBC starting in a few days;
  • starting to produce the chapter-by-chapter podcast edition of my fourth novel, No Relation (look for Chapter 1 in February);
  • the publication and launch of No Relation in May;
  • writing my fifth novel, Poles Apart (I hope to have it finished by the end of the summer (he says optimistically)).

My undying thanks to so many who have made 2013 such a banner year in my writing life. Here’s to a wonderful 2014 for us all.

Thrilled to sign with M&S for my next two novels

Friday, July 5th, 2013

This happened a while ago, but the news was just released today. I’ve signed a two-book deal with McClelland & Stewart, under the Douglas Gibson Books imprint. Doug Gibson will still be my editor. My fourth novel, No Relation, is written and edited, and is already in M&S’s hands for copy-editing, layout, and cover design. It will be published in May, 2014. It’s possible I’ll actually have my fifth novel written by then, (he says, optimistically) as I’m now deep into the planning stages of it, and hope to have started writing the manuscript by the end of the year. It’s tentatively called Poles Apart. (I’ll write more about novel #5 later in the summer, when the story is more fully developed.)

It’s an honour to be with McClelland & Stewart for my next two novels. My gratitude to my agent Beverley Slopen, and the great folks at M&S, Ellen Seligman, Doug Gibson, Bhavna Chauhan, Kristin Cochrane, Anita Chong, and of course my tireless publicist, Frances Bedford. Onwards…

Writing Update: No Relation (4th Novel)

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

On January 5th, 2013, I recorded on this blog that I had officially started writing the manuscript for my fourth novel, No Relation. Well, I’m thrilled to report that two days ago, my editor, Doug Gibson, passed along the final manuscript to McClelland & Stewart for copy-editing and proofreading. In other words, the book is essentially finished. (WooooHoooo!) Last week, I went through Doug’s minor but thoughtful and very beneficial suggested tweaks to the manuscript. It’s a better book and it’s in better shape thanks to Doug’s insights and experience. So for the time being, it’s now out of my hands.

If you’re thinking that six months is not a long time to write a novel, do not be deceived. Writing the manuscript is the very last step in my particular writing process. In the preceding six to eight months, I’ve been carrying around the whole story in my mind, developing it, changing it, putting it back the way it was and then changing it again, refining the plot, developing the settings and characters, and eventually drafting a 50-70 page chapter-by-chapter outline to guide me in writing the manuscript. In other words, by the time I get to the actual crafting of sentences, I know everything there is to know about the novel, from start to finish. So at that stage, the writing itself is, thankfully, relatively straightforward and efficient. It just requires that I put my ass in the chair long enough to bang out 100,000 words, preferably in the right order. But you’ll eventually be that judge of that.

Finishing No Relation liberates my mind to start mapping out my fifth novel. I’ve had an idea simmering in my brain-pan since last December. I think it’s almost ready to see the light of day. (You don’t want to be inside my head for longer than seven or eight months!) So I hope to start wrestling novel #5 into shape so I can start writing it as early as the fall. Onwards…


Congrats to Cassie Stocks on her Leacock win

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

I know how Cassie Stocks feels. Late last month, Cassie won the 2013 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour for her debut novel, Dance, Gladys, Dance. I was there, too. The look on her face when her name was announced from the podium was priceless, and confirmed that she had no expectation of winning. I’m thrilled for her. I know what winning the Leacock Medal can mean to a writer. I hope that it buoys her writing and her book sales and leads her to more literary recognition, because she deserves it. Dance, Gladys, Dance is a wonderful, warm, funny, and heartfelt novel that I think Leacock himself would have enjoyed.

I was honoured to be a finalist again this year for Up and Down. But I was very happy for Cassie Stocks. Write on, Cassie…

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…

I’m out of the gate… on novel #4

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Well, it’s official. Having spent the fall taking the ever-evolving idea for my fourth novel from my head, where it’s been steeping for a year, and mapping out the story in a 46 page outline, I have now started writing the actual manuscript. In fact, I’ve already written a first draft of Chapter 1, just over 5,000 words. So far, so good. It looks like there’ll be 17 or perhaps 18 chapters in the 90,000 to 100,000 word manuscript.

It feels great to be writing again. The only difference this time around is that I’ve crossed over to the Mac world and am writing on a brand new MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch laptop. It is beautiful, and the keyboard in particular is wonderful. Writers care about keyboards. So I expect the next six to eight months or so to be a tough slog, but it’s nice to have the outline done and the first chapter in the books, so to speak. Next, I’ll take another quick pass through Chapter 1 for initial editing, set it aside, and then jump into Chapter 2. I’m quite methodical at this stage in the process (actually, at all stages) and never write chapters, or even scenes, out of order. I start at Chapter 1 and write until the novel is done. It’s the engineer in me.

The novel is tentatively entitled “No Relation” although anything could happen between now and the publishing date, which I hope will be the fall of 2014, preserving my ‘a book every other year‘ publishing cycle. I’ll update you from time-to-time as the writing progresses. Now, back to the manuscript…