Category: Writing (page 1 of 16)

The Leader

Still so much to learn…

There once was a man named Moe
Who was hired to run the show
He was quick on his feet
Could bounce back from defeat
His self-esteem? Not very low

Moe could figure things out real quick
He usually wasn’t a dick
His decisions flew 
His mistakes were few
On a team he would usually click
 
But Moe sometimes got lost in his head
And missed what others had said
Missing the clues
Gave him the blues
And made others around him see red
 
Fearing criticism might do more harm
He concealed displeasure with charm
Lack of success
Would sometimes depress
But usually did not alarm
 
Sometimes, Moe talked too much
And he wasn’t assertive as such
Though he rarely got mad
When he did it was bad
So he usually preferred a soft touch
 
If one were to look for a theme
It’s that Moe cared a lot for his team
For them he would grow
So that he would know
His faults, how to redeem


					
		

Book That Day! May 4th for BookMarkIt!

Maybe you’ve heard of our book fair by now.

It’s called BookMarkIt!, complete with capital letters in strange places and exclamation marks that Elmore Leonard would almost certainly frown on.

BookMarkIt! happens May 4th—Star Wars Day—at the Whitby Curling Club 815 Brock Street North in Whitby, 10am until 5pm, rain or shine.

Special Guest Robert J. Sawyer

Many authors from all over Ontario will be present. Award winning science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer is our Special Guest. Well known producer, author and interviewer Mark Askwith of Prisoners of Gravity fame will also be on hand to interview some of our amazing authors. Which authors? So many to choose from! We are pleased to have Dale Sproule, Sarah Tolmie, Douglas Smith, Bernadette Dyer, A.A. Jankiewicz, Maaja Wentz, Lesley Donaldson, Yahaya Baruwa, and many more. We are also honoured to have publishers Bundoran Press, Brain Lag, and ChiZine Publications taking part. ChiZine authors David Demchuk, Stephen Michell, Michael Rowe and Brent Hayward will also be dropping by.

BookMarkIt! is designed to introduce books to to readers and readers to books.  Our mission is to promote the work of Canadian, Small Press, Independent, and genre authors. All of our resources and efforts are focused on these tasks.

David Demchuk,
Author of The Bone Mother

We are proud to be sponsored by the following terrific and generous organizations: SF Canada, Amazing Stories Magazine, On Spec Magazine, Constellate Publishing, Groupa Concrete, and Bookshelf (Writer’s Community of York Region).   

Our industrious team is active on Twitter (@it_bookmark), Facebook (@whitbybookmarkit), Instagram (whitbybookmarkit) and more. Check us out at www.bookmarkit.ca.

If you’re an author or deal in book related products, it’s not too late to join us. Tables are $75 apiece. You can sign up at www.bookmarkit.ca

If you’re a reader, reach out to us on one of our social media feeds. And by all means drop by the Whitby Curling Club May 4th to meet your favourite—or new favourite—author in person!

Review of a Review

Cover Art for A Time and a Place, by Jeff Minkevics A Time and a Place

Time now to amuse myself by revisiting the Publishers Weekly review of my novel A Time and a Place.

Generally I don’t react much to reviews. Well, I do write to reviewers from time to time to thank them for taking the time to read A Time and a Place and for writing a review. I will even do this sometimes for less than stellar reviews–hey, everyone’s entitled to their opinion. But I will not engage them or take issue with their reviews, and I’m only commenting on this one from Publishers Weekly, because, well, it amuses me to do so.

And no, in case you’re wondering, I’m not missing an apostrophe when I write “Publishers Weekly.” Apparently they dropped the apostrophe a while back; I don’t know why. Can we take a review seriously from a publication that doesn’t even know how to punctuate its own name properly? Sure we can! Especially if it’s a positive review. 🙂

Now, is drawing attention to a positive review in Publishers Weekly boasting? Of course it is! That is, if bragging about a review of an almost entirely obscure book that’s sold (let’s face it) hardly any copies (compared to say, J.K. Rowling) and written by a completely unknown author can be said to be bragging.

Anyway, onward:

Our anonymous reviewer begins thusly:

“Debut author Mahoney…”

I choose to imagine our reviewer as female. A part of me suspects it’s someone I know. Someone doing me a favour, maybe. A moonlighting friend, say, scoring a few extra bucks writing reviews for Publishers Weekly during her scant precious free time to supplement her meager public broadcasting income.  Why else review a debut novel by a completely unknown author? I have no other evidence to support this conjecture. Whoever it is will carry their secret to the grave.

“…this entertaining, chaotic adventure.”

Whoever the reviewer is, I think I love them. They called my book entertaining! And chaotic isn’t bad, is it? Not if the chaos is entertaining! And who doesn’t like adventure? It seems a very positive review so far.

“…temporal loops where effects come before causes…”

She’s actually read the book. No head scratching on the part of this reviewer. She might even have understood the book better than I did. When I read that line I had to stop and think about it. Yes, effects do come before causes in A Time and a Place. Heck, had anything happened to me while writing A Time and a Place this reviewer could easily have stepped in and finished writing it for me. She understood what she was reading. She could summarize it afterward effectively, pithily. I should have had her write the synopsis and query letter before pitching it to publishers. Could have saved me a lot of time. Maybe got me a better deal.

“Mahoney skillfully (but unsubtly)…”

My head almost exploded when I read that. Skillfully! A reviewer for Publishers Weekly thinks my writing exhibits skill! It almost makes me want to write this blog post well. The word “skill” gives me joy. I spent years writing  A Time and a Place trying to get it right, and not just right but exactly right. Can you say validation, anyone? And from someone who obviously knows how to write well themselves because this is one, well, “skillfully” crafted review. And I’m not just saying that because they think I write “skillfully.” Okay, maybe I am. But still.   

Oh, but then there’s that “unsubtly.”

Was that “unsubtly” really necessary? Could we not have just left it at skillfully? Perhaps that was to ensure that I could get my head through doorways in the future. Okay, clearly she’s saying that A Time and a Place wasn’t quite as subtle as it could have been. Noted. I’ll try to do better next time.

“…moments of comedy, tragedy, horror, and philosophical contemplation of time, free will, and personal responsibility.”   

That pretty much sums up what I was trying to do. I mean, aside from just trying to get the damned thing written. Here our friendly neighbourhood reviewer conveys the sense that she both understood what I was trying to do and maybe even—dare I say it?—appreciated it.

“Despite occasional segments that distract or feel a little overdone…”

Okay, so it’s not perfect. I accept that. I may have been a tad self-indulgent here and there. Perhaps I should have taken out the line about Ridley’s nose that Arleane (the first editor of A Time and a Place) wanted me to cut. You know the one:

Emotion played over Ridley’s face like ripples on the surface of a pond. A pond from which, I might add, his nose protruded like the dorsal fin of a shark.

Again, noted.

Mahoney’s work is great for those who like their speculative fiction thoughtful, eloquent, and messy.”

The final line of the review. The money line, really—the one I quote when promoting the book. Sporting an Oxford comma, no less. As if we didn’t already accept this reviewer’s credentials.

What did she mean by “messy?” Something to do with the plot, I imagine. I don’t really know.  Who cares?  

Not me.

Not after a review like that.     

Here’s the review in its entirety:


A Time and a Place
Joe Mahoney. Five Rivers Chapmanry, $38.99 trade paper (412p) ISBN 978-1-988274-25-6

Debut author Mahoney sends a mild-mannered fellow on an interdimensional journey in this entertaining, chaotic adventure. Barnabus Wildebear needs to know why his teen nephew and ward, Ridley, is acting so strangely. Unfortunately the cause is an ominous entity, possibly a demon, named Iugurtha. She whisks Ridley away to dimensions unknown while implanting mysterious information in Barnabus’s mind that allows him to (sort of) control portals to other dimensions and times. The odyssey that follows bounces him to other planets, the minds of other people and creatures, temporal loops where effects come before causes, and a war against a merciless enemy seeking to steal the knowledge in his head. He’s accompanied by an increasingly vocal artificial intelligence named Sebastian. Mahoney skillfully (but unsubtly) uses Barnabus’s multilayered adventures to yank readers into moments of comedy, tragedy, horror, and philosophical contemplation of time, free will, and personal responsibility. Despite occasional segments that distract or feel a little overdone, Mahoney’s work is great for those who like their speculative fiction thoughtful, eloquent, and messy. (Oct.)

BookMarkIt! About a Book Fair

On Saturday May 4th, 2019, we’re holding a book fair in Whitby, Ontario called BookMarkIt!

What’s a book fair? It’s where authors come to sell their books. It’s where people come to sell products related to books. It’s where yet others come to peruse these wares, meet a favourite author or two, and discover new favourite authors.

Why hold a book fair?

In my case, it’s because I published a book recently. And since becoming an author I’ve discovered something:

Books are hard to sell.

This made me want to do something to make it a bit easier. Not just for myself, but for other writers too. 

You might be thinking, how are books hard to sell? Can’t I just walk into a bookstore and buy them? What about online? Can’t I just buy them there?

Sure, you can do both those things.

But you’re not necessarily going to find the best books by doing that. Just because a book is online doesn’t mean it’s going to be visible there. Take for example fellow BookMarkIt! organizer and author Pat Flewwelling’s first Helix book, Blight of Exiles. Despite thirteen excellent reviews on Amazon.com and a 4.7 Star rating, it’s still sitting at #10,911,700.    

(I recommend you all go purchase Helix: Blight of Exiles right now to correct that problem.)

And you might be surprised to learn that a lot of good books aren’t even in bookstores. Most major book retailers don’t carry books by independent and self-published authors. There are a lot of reasons for this, starting with lots of high octane competition and limited shelf space. 

As you can imagine, this is a bit of a challenge for those who don’t get shelf space.

Independent publishers are committed to publishing voices you’re not going to find elsewhere. Here in Canada, that often means Canadian voices. These are publishers willing to take chances, not wholly driven by the bottom line. They are like craft brewers, except instead of producing beer, they produce quality books, every bit as unique, distinctive and flavourful as the suds produced by your favourite craft brewer.   

Hmm… Beer… (Image courtesy of Little Beasts Brewing of Oshawa, ON, which you should also check out)

Also, in the last decade or so there’s been an explosion of self-publishing. Costs have gone down and quality has gone up. Unfortunately, like the books of many independent publishers, these books don’t usually make their way into bookstores.

Shelf space in bookstores isn’t the only challenge for authors and publishers. It costs money to sell books. I mean beyond the cost of making the books in the first place. There’s the cost of marketing and advertising those books, which is frequently a challenge for small publishers and independent authors. Not to mention that everybody involved in the production and selling of a book has to get their cut. Here’s an example of how it can work:

One day I took my book to a bricks and mortar Indigo bookstore to sell it. Before I could do this I had to purchase several copies of my book from my publisher to have copies to sell. This was a fair investment to begin with. Indigo kindly gave me a table and a chair and a prominent spot on their floor. I met a lot of nice people and sold nine books that day.

Unfortunately, Chapter’s non-negotiable policy is to take 45% of the sale price of each book sold. This forced me to charge a rather high price for each copy of my book to break even. At the end of the day, after Chapters took their share, I made a little under two dollars profit for that day’s work (never mind all the work that went into creating the book in the first place). I don’t see the point of ever trying to sell my book at Chapters again.

Fortunately there are other avenues to sell books. Farmer’s Markets and Dealer’s Rooms at conventions, for example. Still, although these places don’t typically take a share of your profits, you are required to rent a table. The cost of renting a table varies, anywhere from $10 a table (at a Farmer’s Market in Summerside, P.E.I.) to over $150 a table (at a science fiction convention in Toronto). Sometimes you can share a table with another writer, which helps a lot. But if you’re shelling out for a table, you need to sell a certain number of copies of your book in order to break even.

Whether a convention, a Farmer’s Market, or another type of event at which you rent a table to sell your books, you don’t always break even. Why not? Sometimes the sad truth is that no one wants your particular book. Maybe it just isn’t the right crowd. For example, sometimes these events are populated predominantly by writers as opposed to readers. So you wind up trying to sell your books to other writers who are also trying to sell you their books. This is not entirely an obstacle as writers are a uniquely supportive lot who frequently buy one another’s books. I have a lot of friends’ books on my shelves.      

Of course, these examples are not the only means by which writers can sell their books. Many writers do book tours and interviews. Others successfully do outreach to libraries and schools which raises their profiles while giving back to their communities. 

But the more opportunities writers have to sell their books, and the more opportunities readers have to find those writers, the better it is for everyone. Which is why my friends and I decided to create BookMarkIt!

Our goal is to create an attractive environment to expose as many writers and readers to one another as possible. And we want to do so at as little cost to writers and readers as possible. This is why admission to BookMarkIt! is free. BookMarkIt! itself is a non-profit organization. And writers can rent tables as inexpensively as we can manage, and share those tables if they choose.   

Whitby Curling Club
Whitby Curling Club, which, on May 4th, 2019, we’ll be renaming the Whitby BookMarkIt!

We’ve decided to hold BookMarkIt! at the Whitby Curling Club, located on Brock Street, the main street in Whitby, just north of Whitby’s downtown. There is a lot of traffic on this road, and the Club has a huge sign outside to draw people in. We’re placing Food Trucks in the parking lot to attract further traffic and create a bit of a stir. It will be a family friendly event. The Whitby Curling Club itself is an attractive venue, well laid out inside with plenty of room for vendors and visitors and another whole room we’ll be using for interviews and readings, which we’ll post on social media later to help writers sell their work after the event.

It’s called BookMarkIt!

And we hope to see you there.

Audiobook Tour: Nina Munteanu and The Splintered Universe Part Three

Here is Part Three of my feature about Nina Munteanu and her audiobook series The Splintered Universe, narrated by Dawn Harvey, presented in association with Audiobookworm Promotions. 

The Splintered Universe is science fiction, published by Iambik Audio, and consists of three separate audiobooks.

In the third book of the Splintered Universe series, entitled Metaverse, Rhea Hawke travels back to Earth, hoping to convince an eccentric mystic to help her defend humanity from an impending Vos attack – only to find herself trapped in a deception that promises to change her and her two worlds forever.

Here’s an audio excerpt from Metaverse:

And just for fun, here’s a selection of proverbs that Rhea Hawke, the main character in the series, is known for using when confronting a challenging adversary or situation. Proverbs that we all can learn from:

“There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same.” Chinese proverb

“Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.” Zen proverb

“The acts of this life are the destiny of the next.” Eastern proverb

“Never cut what can be untied.” Portugese proverb

“A little help is better than a lot of pity.” Celtic proverb

“What a fool does in the end, the wise man does in the beginning. “Italian proverb

“Be careful what you wish for; you’re apt to get it.” Chinese proverb

“She who has been bitten by a snake fears a piece of string.” Persian proverb

“He who wants a rose must respect the thorn.” Persian proverb

“A beautiful thing is never perfect.” Egyptian proverb

“Good soyka should be black like the devil, hot like hell, and sweet like a kiss.” Hungarian proverb

“The night hides a world, but reveals a universe.” Persian proverb

“The difficult is done at once, the impossible takes a little longer.” French proverb

“If you can’t dance, you’ll say the drumming is poor.” Jamaican proverb

“A cat pent up becomes a lion.” Italian proverb

“It’s not enough to know to ride; you must also know how to fall.” Mexican proverb

“Each of us must sometimes play the fool.” Yiddish proverb

“The only Zen you find at the top of the mountain is the Zen you bring with you.” Zen proverb

“Beauty without virtue is like a rose without scent.” Swedish proverb

“After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box.” Italian proverb

“Call on God, but row away from the rocks.” Indian proverb

That’s the end of this special three part series on author Nina Munteanu and her series Splintered Universe. I trust by now you’ve purchased each book and devoured them all. If not, what are you waiting for? 🙂

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