Monday, June 1, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
1. You will never look at a photocopier the same way ever again.
2. You will be haunted by the question, “Is the news meant to inform or entertain?”
3. You may have second thoughts regarding your ambition of becoming a school principal.
4. Every time you bite into a pickle, you will think of Razor and his guitar.
5. Every time you enter a public washroom, you will listen for voices coming from the strangest places.
6. You will always attend school fundraisers with a feeling of anticipation and just a little fear.
7. You will wonder what the photocopier’s real name is.
8. If you ever hear the name Trixi, you will think of giant sewer rats, flying outhouses, and attacking maple trees.
9. You will always wonder just exactly what the photocopier technician is really up to.
10. Every time you look at a newspaper headline, you’ll think, “What if . . .?”
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Also on April 1st, and quite suitably so, I might add, my newest book, Tabloidology, will be unleashed upon the world.
Why is April Fools' Day a suitable day to release this book, and let it run rampant across the planet?
Simply because at the heart of this book is a prankster named Trixi Wilder who tries to make the world around her a little more interesting by dressing pigs up as Cupid, organizing softball games with water-filled balloons, and inviting guest speakers to bring their motorbikes down the halls of her school. And when a photocopier begins to perform in ways that could only be described as magical, Trixi’s pranks are taken to a whole new level.
But that’s not all the book's about, of course. There’s much more depth, intrigue, suspense, action, slapstick, and other elements that will make reading this book a truly momentous moment in any reader’s life.
If you want to pre-order a copy of Tabloidology– and let me assure you that you will– you can find it at:
Happy April Fools' Day!
Monday, March 9, 2009
The Top Five Reasons Why I Like Saskatchewan
1. On a cross country bicycling trip, my brother and I concluded that Saskatchewan tied one other province as the friendliest place in Canada.
2. My grandfather homesteaded near Maple Creek in the early 1900s.
3. My first book, Buddy Concrackle’s Amazing Adventure, was published by Saskatchewan publisher Coteau Books.
4. It’s the most symmetrical province in Canada.
5. Klutzhood was nominated for a 2009 Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Willow Award!
How can you not love such a province!
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Another event in Klutzhood which was based on a memory of mine was the scene where Arlo had to ride his bike through the school. When I was in grade six, I went to a small boys’ private school. The building was one long hallway from end to end with classrooms off this one long hall and doors at both ends.
After school one day, one boy dared another to ride his bike from one end to the school to the other and out the far door. Unfortunately, he got caught by the janitor. The next morning, at our regular assembly, the two boys were punished in front of the entire school. (Let’s just say their punishment was rather painful.) The incident of that bike ride through the school seemed to fit perfectly with one of the dares X gave Arlo.
So, there you go. When you’re writing, the memory churns out ideas right when you need them. The only catch is, I can’t force ideas to come forward. They have to come forward of their own volition. All I can do is relax, and keep an open mind. Then, the ideas will just jump out of nowhere and announce their arrival. In creative writing, there’s never a dull moment.
Monday, March 2, 2009
In my novel, Klutzhood, there are a number of events which are based (very loosely) on my own personal experiences. Here’s an example:
On my first day at a new school in grade three, I threw up on the way into the school. In Klutzhood, Arlo throws up at the door of his new classroom, splattering the shoes of the principal. Throwing up at school is just about one of the worst experiences you can have. At least, it was for me. I remember they used to call the janitor to come up from the boiler room in the basement. He’d bring a bucket of sawdust and a trowel to clean up the mess. While he cleaned up the mess, you'd be looking around for a rock to hide under.
So you can see, even some of the more horribly awfully traumatic events in your life can become great material in writing fiction. As a writer, no experience is wasted!
Friday, February 27, 2009
So, where do these ideas spend their time until they jump forth? I’d say they live a life of quiet luxury in some deep dark corner of my brain. I’m sure some ideas live quite contentedly, and never feel the urge to spring forward into my wakeful mind. Others just won’t leave me alone.
Most ideas get their start in personal experiences. Some quirky little experience I’ve have sometime during my life will take up residence in my brain and stay for good. When I look back on my first two novels, Buddy Concrackle’s Amazing Adventure and Klutzhood, many of the events portrayed are based on memories of past experiences. Not that I climbed through air ducts or rode a bike through the school or anything.
That’s the beauty of fiction. Novels can be like a tall tale of your own life.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
The most common question I get when I talk to audiences about writing is, “Where do you get your ideas?” There’s no simple answer to this question, I’m afraid. Well . . . I guess there is, because I could say:
“I HAVE NO IDEA!”
The way it seems to work is that when I’m writing, an idea will jump out of nowhere and land with a thump in my mind and shout, “I’M JUST WHAT YOU NEED!” or “I WAS MEANT FOR THIS STORY!”
Yes, it’s just that weird. The ideas seem to just pop out of nowhere. So, getting ideas is pretty much out of my control as I’m in the flow of writing.
How's that for an answer?
Thursday, February 19, 2009
My final memory tip to the readers in the High Prairie Reading Challenge is one I call, The Secret Weapon! This method of memorization was developed, supposedly, by a group of traveling musicians who lived in Bolivia in the 17th Century and were known for memorizing very long songs in short periods of time. Although the method is said to be very effective, it can also be very painful.
Although I was sworn to secrecy not to reveal their top secret method, I will say, it involves standing on your head and reading the book backwards. I know it sounds crazy, but if it worked for the traveling musicians of Bolivia, why can’t it work for us?
Now that I’ve shared three incredibly effective methods of memorizing Klutzhood’s 34,610, I wish all participants in the High Prairie Reading Challenge the best of fun, and the best of luck.
Monday, February 16, 2009
And now for the promised second memory tip for readers taking on the Klutzhood Reading Challenge.
It is a well known fact that one of the best triggers of memory is the sense of smell. This second tip in helping with your Reading Challenge is sure to work, for it is based upon a large body of scientific evidence. At least, I’m pretty sure it is.
Buy a large package of smelly felts. Take a copy of Klutzhood and a selected smelly felt flavour, and highlight the entire first chapter, running the felt over the words.
My suggestion would be black for licorice, simply because I really like licorice. Unfortunately, although Chapter 1 would smell great as a licorice chapter, it would be very difficult to read. Maybe you should go with orange for Chapter 1.
After you’ve highlighted the words, read it and take a good long sniff at the end of each page.
For Chapter 2, I’d got with banana yellow. For Chapter 3, it’s definitely a purple grape. With Chapter 4, it’s a toss up between lime green and blueberry blue.
I think you get the idea.
When it comes time for the challenge, for any question from Chapter 1, you’ll pull out your smelly felt, jam it up your nose, inhale, and the answer should flash immediately into your mind.
At least, that’s the theory.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Further to my earlier post on the High Prairie, Alberta Reading Challenge, I would now like to offer some tips which will help young readers memorize all 34,610 words of the novel Klutzhood. In addition to memorizing all 34,610 words, be sure you don’t overlook the spaces.
Memory Tip #1
Measure the wall and ceiling space of your bedroom. Buy one copy of Klutzhood for every 17,328 square centimetres of ceiling and wall space. Remove the binding of the book and wallpaper and ceilingpaper your room with pages from the novel. To plaster your room with the full novel, you’ll need at least two copies to get both sides of each page. Over the next few days, you will be surrounded by the pages of Klutzhood. Surrounding yourself with words is a great start in your quest for memorizing the novel.
Look for Tip #2 (and I can assure you, it's even better than Tip #1!) in the next few days.
Friday, February 13, 2009
The brave, young readers of High Prairie, Alberta are undertaking a perilous challenge. They are facing a barrage of 34,610 words that will show no mercy, take no prisoners, and leave the faint of hear quaking in their boots. Yes, let the World of Literature know that the young readers who frequent the High Prairie Municipal Library are taking on the Klutzhood Reading Challenge!
To survive the challenge and emerge victorious, young readers are required to read the book and commit every tiny, miniscule detail to memory. Who knows how difficult the questions might be?
- What is the seventeenth word on page 96?
- What was the size (in cubic centimetres) of the engine in the truck Arlo’s mother drove on his first morning of school?
- What was the colour of Pinball’s left eye?
Don’t worry, kids! I don’t think the questions will be quite so obscure. But still, to win the challenge, you will need to remember many, many details.
To help you prepare for the challenge, I thought I would offer up some tips in the next few days which might help you with your memorization of the novel, Klutzhood. Stay tuned.