Monday, December 5, 2011

Box of Shocks Study Guide Now Available

These dancers are dancing up a storm . . . Why? Because they've just heard that the all new, fresh off the brain, Box of Shocks Study Guide is available for teachers, parents, or anyone else who wants to dig down into the depths of this new novel.

To get your free copy . . . Yes! You read that right . . . Free copy . . . All you have to do is let me know the general geographic region you live in (just because I'm curious where Box of Shocks has gotten to), and I'll send you the attachment.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Marshmallow Pizza?

One of the highlights of the book launch of Box of Shocks was being presented with Oliver's "most favourite food in the whole world" . . . marshmallow pizza. Rea put this together, and later in the evening, I had a taste. I can assure you, it was VERY sweet. I can confirm that marshmallow pizza is most definitely something Oliver would declare to be his favourite food. As for me . . . well . . .

Out to Launch!

Thanks to all of the 250 or so people who came out for the Box of Shocks launch. What an evening! These two photos captured the left hand side of the crowd followed by the right hand. I missed a whole bunch of people on either side and a bunch at the back, but I think you get the idea. Many thanks to Silke, Heather, Loyola, Rea, Lisa, Melanie, Madison, Josh and many many more who helped make this such a great event.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Great Box of Shocks Book Hunt!

The Box of Shocks Book Hunt is officially off the ground . . . er . . . in the ground . . . or whatever . . .

Anyway, thanks to a small army of dedicated GPS-slinging book hiders, copies of Box of Shocks are scattered in remote and not so remote locations throughout British Columbia.

Would you like to find one? Of course you would! Just go to and you can get all the details of how it works.

A special thanks to Amy and her friends in Victoria, Nancy in Nelson, Ivor in Williams Lake, Sheena in Prince George, Chris (not me) in Armstrong, Shannon in Salmon Arm, Karen and Geoff in Whistler, Gord in Golden, and Peter in the Lower Mainland for all of their efforts and enthusiasm.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Box of Shocks Ready for Take-off!

The official launch of Box of Shocks will be taking place on Friday, November 18th, 2011 at 6:30 pm. Come and join us at Highland Park Elementary School in Armstrong, B.C. for a great evening of joyful jollity, hilarious hilarity, and an all-round fun time. Proceeds from book sales will be donated to Right to Play.

Be there or be rectangular!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Box of Shocks Unleashed!

My latest novel with Orca Books, Box of Shocks, has now been officially unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. It's available online from Orca Books, Amazon, Chapters-Indigo, other fine brick and mortar bookstores, and pretty much everywhere that sells new books. Stay tuned for details of the book's official launch, as well as the Box of Shocks Book Treasure Hunt, coming to a forest near you.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

North Okanagan Shuswap Young Writers

Congratulations to all of the young writers who participated in the School District #83 North Okanagan Shuswap Young Writers Project.

At the outset of the project, I had one primary goal:

Have students write a short story and go through the experience of revising it a number of times (three) with the help of an editor (me).

In terms of personal growth as a writer, working closely with an editor has had the most profound impact upon my own writing. I've read dozens of books on writing and taken countless workshops, but nothing can replace the experience of working with an editor on one's own writing.

I wanted these talented students I was working with to take their writing to the next level. The way to do that was to go through a series of intensive revisions, re-examining their work from the broader aspects of plot, characterization, and setting, to the specifics of word selection.

I was wondering how open to such intensive criticism of their work they would be. Many young writers (and old ones, as well) aren't open to the criticisms of an editor.

These 40+ students that began the project ALL came through the revision process with determination and dedication. Every single one responded extremely well to the editorial critiques I presented and raised the level to their writing to stratospheric heights. Hats off to them all (and, of course, their very supportive parents!)

Thanks also to Shera Niewenhuizen for her organizational wizardry in pulling the project together and in the production of the anthology.

We're already looking forward to the 2011-2012 version of the project!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


What is one of the best ways for a writer, artist, scientist, accountant, ballet dancer, photocopy repair person, circus contortionist . . . anyone for that matter . . . to rejuvenate? Head for the mountains for some rambling and scrambling, that's what.

Pictured above is Lake McArthur, situated in Yoho National Park. Mid-July and the ice is still on the lake. And I packed my swimsuit all the way up there for nothing!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Box of Shocks Cover Revealed

Here's a sneak peek at the cover of my new book due out this fall with Orca Books.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tabloidology Hits Korea!

Tabloidology has arrive in Korea. With a complete make-over of the cover, Vidam Publishing has produced a fine edition complete with cover flaps, high quality paper, and a textured cover. Of course, the great paradox here is that I now have a book I've written but can't read. Who said life always makes sense?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Returning Home

Have you ever gone back to a house you used to live in? It’s a strange experience. The furniture’s all different. Maybe the walls have been painted. The pictures on the walls aren’t the same. Maybe some renovations have been done to significantly change the insides. No matter what, the house just doesn’t look right.

It doesn’t look right because you’re comparing the house now to the house then, when you lived in it.

Pictured above is a house I lived in when I was between the ages of about four to eight. When I was writing my upcoming novel Box of Shocks, it was this house I re-imagined for the setting. Of course, the beauty of creative writing is that you have free license to twist, reshape, chop, glue on, and generally refabricate reality. It's like cosmetic surgery for your memory.

But even if I wanted to accurately represent this old house in my novel, I couldn’t– my memories of this house are like a patchwork quilt with a bunch of missing panels. I have vivid memories of parts of the house and events that took place. But I’m quite willing to admit, there are huge gaps in my memory for many details. To fill the gaps, that’s where the imagination comes in very handy.

It’s been said that History is part fiction, and Fiction is part history. In the case of this house and my new novel Box of Shocks, never was this statement more true.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Endings and Hamstrings

There’s no doubt in my mind that one of the most challenging aspects of writing a novel is the ending. In the revision process for Klutzhood, I had to redo the ending three times.

One thing I have discovered, however, is that it’s impossible for me to write towards a pre-planned ending. The best approach for me is to delve into the story, beginning with a situation from which the characters grow. Events unfold, and I have to have confidence that the ending, unknown as I write, will emerge.

Maybe my approach to life should be more like that.

One of my non-writing obsessions is cross-country ski racing. This week, I’m taking part in the Masters World Cup being held at Sovereign Lake, near Vernon, B.C. In my first race– a 30 kilometre skate ski race– everything went as well as I could have hoped. I had a respectable finish with a personal best time.

But in my next race– a 10 kilometre classic race– the proverbial wheels fell off. I fell near the start and pulled my hamstring. I tried to ski on, but by four kilometres, my body started shutting down– a condition I later learned is called vasovagal response. My race, with all its expectations, was done.

Certainly I was greatly disappointed, but then, this episode got me thinking.

Maybe I should approach life more like my writing. Maybe I should drop into the situation and see what outcome emerges, rather than getting all stressed about achieving imagined expectations. Thank you hamstring!

(Photo by Peter Jobbins)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Just Write!

In Salmon Arm on February 18, 2011, I'll be appearing at the conference shown below, along with Gail Anderson-Dargatz, Harold Rhenisch, and a host of other writers and teachers. Don't worry. For some reason, the brochure PDF I got looks kind of spooky with the negative images, and all. But really, we're not a negative group, and it should be a very ____________ (PROVIDE YOUR OWN SUPERLATIVE) day.

I'll be doing a bit of a reading in the morning, then giving a workshop called, "Jumper Cables for the Imagination." Anyone brave enough to show up will be able to try out some of my creative writing tricks for writers young and old.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Unfriendly Giants

The Big Ceilidh Fiddle

One of the great landmarks in Sydney, Nova Scotia is the Big Ceilidh Fiddle. Canada seems to be a land of giant things. There's the giant hockey stick in Duncan, B.C., the giant Easter Egg in Vegreville, Alberta, the giant cross-country skis in 100 Mile House, B.C. and now, if you drive along Deep Creek Road between Armstrong and Salmon Arm, you'll pass the giant push lawn mower. Believe me, it's worth the trip!

All of these giant things inspired for the short story for adult readers, "Unfriendly Giants," which appears in the December edition of Other:_________ magazine. I don't want to disappoint any T.V. fans out there, so I'll forewarn you that Jerome and Rusty do not appear in the story. Nor is there a chair for one who likes to rock or a chair for two to curl up in. In spite of these shortcomings, please check the story out if you manage to get your hands on a copy of this magazine.