Monday, July 21, 2014

Navigating the Neighborhood

Volume 6 of my NEIGHBORS series is out! Lester Tibbett, former rodeo cowboy, is back in Volume 6 - Navigating the Neighborhood.

Lester Tibbett is back after a near death experience that has put a few things in perspective. It hasn’t stopped his friend Jed from harassing him about women or the upcoming bull riding competition. Nor has it made life any easier when it comes to dealing with his teenage sister. Just when he is at the end of his rope, he makes an unexpected discovery. Is it fate or mere coincidence?

Are you enjoying the series? If so, drop me a line or write a short review at or

Here are all the volumes so far. More to come!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Inscribe link and a new release

Check out my regularly scheduled post on 'Inscribe Writers Online' entitled: A Branding Nightmare. I discuss my dilemma of writing in different genres and what that does to one's 'brand'.

I also had a new release! NAVIGATING THE NEIGHBORHOOD - Volume 6 in the Neighbors series, released on Thursday!

Finally, you may wish to read this thoughtful review of WIND OVER MARSHDALE by Antony Millen.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Guest Author - Grace Yee

COLONY ZERO, a Science Fiction series that I am pleased to be collaborating on, is into it's sixth volume 'A Matter of Time' by Grace Yee. Don't miss out on this exciting series.

In the wake of a harsh betrayal, order must be sought as the Earthers run free with the aid of a Zero turncoat. Schneider and the dwindling crew must return to Earth. This must not be allowed to happen. Beneath the lightless stare of the dwarf star, it is a race against time to apprehend the Earth crew before they can send word to the Relocation Ministry about the survivors on Colony Zero. Yet even with time and ally against them, the real danger is the one the colonists can't see. It is the one that would bring devastation to both Paradise and Earth.

I talked to contributing author Grace Yee about her part in the process.

Q: What is it about Science Fiction that inspires or intrigues you?

I love that with Science Fiction, you can take a pre-existing concept and completely twist it around to create something totally mind-blowing. I have an art book by Jessica “NeonDragon” Peffer where some of her fantasy creatures are placed in a Science-Fiction-type storyline. There’s a goblin in a dystopian-England and a Harley Quinzel-type fairy in the shadow of an eclipse. But my favorite example of Science Fiction has to be the television show Firefly. Although no longer on the air, I always find it fascinating how Joss Whedon incorporated themes of the Old West with spaceships and a posh totalitarian government.

Q: How did you find the whole ‘collaborative writing’ experience? Were there any surprises, what  did you find difficult, and what was the best part of the experience for you? 

I had butterflies in my stomach the whole time! Especially in the beginning I was thinking, “This isn’t gonna work, there are too many of us, how can all of our voices come together to sound as one,” etc., etc., etc. But once the initial reluctance to a new style of working wore off, the entire experience was rather thrilling! I was surprised by how open everyone was to tweaking and sharing ideas. For some reason I was most caught off guard by how much people contributed behind-the-scenes. Travis Perry blew me away. The amount of detail he contributed to all of the technical stuff caught my attention immediately. That was when I really took this thing seriously, where I thought, “Okay. This could work. This could actually be really good!” The hardest part for me was not being able to expound on the character I chose for the series. There is so much more to her than we see in the first installment and, as was pointed out, I really had to dial it down to move the story along. I comforted myself with the knowledge that readers would see more of her in the near future. The best part for me was probably seeing the finished product. It was thrilling to read everyone’s sections as a whole. Everyone’s styles of writing coordinated so elegantly.

Q: I totally concur with everything you said. I was impressed with Travis as well, (and everyone) and in my opinion, the 'origins' story was a complete success. How did you get involved in the COLONY ZERO project?

Our mutual acquaintance, Gio, said he wanted to make a game-plan of what would be in store for me for 2014. I actually thought I was in trouble and made up this list of bullet points that I wanted to talk about so he would see I wasn’t a total waste of imagination. But he surprised me by saying, “So I’m putting together a bunch of series and I wanted to see if you’d be interested in collaborating on one with a bunch of different authors.” I was dumbstruck for about three or four seconds. Write something with other authors? It wasn’t exactly something I was comfortable with. Having other authors with way more experience read my stuff and be justified with telling me if it was schmutz. The idea was daunting to say the least. But I found myself saying yes. It had to be a God thing. Only He knows what we really need, and I have learned so much while working with everyone. Not just about subplots and subliminal messages, but about working with other authors and how to make the story the best that it can be.

Q: Working with others can be both humbling and exciting, as as you said, the learning that comes out of it is immense. Tell us a bit more about your writing ‘history’.  

I didn’t really get into writing until I was fourteen or fifteen. Wow. That sounds so long ago. Anyway, I found writing fantasy stories something that came very naturally to me. I would see the story in my head and know what I wanted to say, how I wanted to describe it, and the words would just flow onto the page. I was homeschooled, and every year we have to present a creative writing piece in our English section. My creative writing piece was something like twenty pages long. That same year I wrote the first draft to what would become my first published story, THE WOMAN IN SCARLET. (A short story.) It was eighteen pages. After that I kind of knew that writing was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Granted, I was a freshman, and when you’re a freshman, the words rest of my life carry a different weight than they do after you graduate. But even now, at twenty years old (I’m so ancient!) I know writing is something I will do for the rest of my life. I love it. I can’t imagine not doing it. If I tried, I think I would go crazy.

Q:  Interesting. I homeschooled my children for nine years and I like to think they turned into well adjusted, inquisitive adults who think outside the box. Is there anything else you’d like to share?

This is a piece of advice given to me by a good friend at my graduation party, and it has stuck with me ever since. “Dear Grace, thinking back on the time that has passed since my high school graduation, I want to offer this: Don’t wait until tomorrow! Obey the Lord and then follow your dreams with relentless vigor and passion. Do not let obstacles deter you. Don’t wait for the ‘perfect timing’ to occur. Make it happen with prayer and persistence. If you delay, time is lost, and you can’t get it back. (At least this side of Heaven!)”

COLONY ZERO A Matter of Time by Grace Yee is now available at Amazon. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Getting to Know the Neighborhood Cast

Characterization is one of my favourite parts about the writing process. Perhaps my background as a drama teacher has made me interested in what makes each character tick. I genuinely enjoy delving into the inner workings of my characters. My NEIGHBORS Series is peopled by a host of interesting and quirky people living in an apartment block in Calgary, AB. Starting next week, I will be posting separate interviews with many of the main characters, beginning with Lester Tibbett, the main man from the first volume, 'New In the Neighborhood'. To get things rolling, I offer up a list of the main individuals that appear in this series. Leave a comment and you will be entered in a draw for a free copy of Volume 1.

Lester Ray Tibbett – 32 year old 'country boy' and protective older brother and guardian to Patsi Mae. Former rodeo cowboy now moved to the city to work in construction.

Patsi Mae Tibbett – 18 years old, na├»ve and definitely not a city girl, although she is ready to 'try her wings', much to her brother's dismay.

Sherri Chan – 30 years old and twin sister of Sherman Chan. Teaches math and is the youngest professor on staff at the University. Smart, independent, and usually conservative, she surprises herself when she steps outside her comfort zone.

Sherman Chan – Sherri's twin and a third generation Chinese Canadian. Even though he is a successful architect, his parents expect him to uphold many of their old fashioned traditions, especially when it comes to love and marriage. Best friends with Steve Russell and Cory Roberts.

Tamara Spence – 29 and from the Blood First Nation in Southern Alberta. Proud of her ancestry, a bit of an activist, and co-owner of the 'Brew', a trendy downtown coffee shop. Has a 7 year old son named Matonabee.

Carmen Lamont – 28 and co-owner of the 'Brew’. African Canadian, she loves to dress in bright bold colours and is a former set designer.

Cory Roberts – 30 year old African Canadian with dread locks. A bit of a ladies man, he is co-owner of the 'Urban Cowboy' and does DJ-ing on the side. Best friends with Sherman Chan and Steve Russell.

Steve Russell – 30 year old newspaper journalist who doesn't mind getting his hands dirty in order to get a story. Grew up with Sherman and Cory.

Jacques Marcett – 34 year old Quebecois working as a bartender at the 'Urban Cowboy'.

Jed Malloy - construction worker originally from Newfoundland, and the first to befriend Lester when he moves to town. A boisterous character, he is the eldest of a large family, many of whom will be moving into the neighbourhood...

Joseph and Lani Chan – Sherman and Sherri’s parents. Joseph is a second generation Canadian but went to Hong Kong to find his wife Lani. They are hard workers, and help run two family businesses: a restaurant and a convenience store in Chinatown. Providing a good education was upper most for them, despite their tendency to hold onto traditions.

Millicent Peacock – A self righteous spinster who likes to stick her nose in other people's business.

Megan McMillan – a 19 year old 'princess', she takes Patsi on as a 'project'. Very spoiled, her parents are corporate lawyers and have given her whatever she wants. Still, she isn't satisfied...

Brett McMillan – Megan's 22 year old brother. In and out of college, he hasn’t settled down and only wants to have fun, which includes DJ-ing and hitting on Megan's new friend Patsi.

And I haven't even mentioned the Carravagio sisters, their brother Rocky, Rev. Wallis, Cory's love interest Renee Tucker, his father Tad Roberts, neighbor Goldie Harper and her son Jason, P.I. Vinny Kirkpatrick, and the whole Malloy clan - coming straight from 'the Rock' to you in NEIGHBORS BOOK 2.

Monday, July 14, 2014

How Can I Serve You?

I have been doing a lot of analysis of late. In order to formulate a business plan that is more specific and less nebulous, I'm trying to get a handle on such things as my long term goals as an author, my target audience, my competition, etc. I've come up with five main ways that my 'product' (aka my books) serve my audience. (And in homiletics style, I made them alliterative!)

1.    Entertain
2.    Encourage
3.    Enlighten
4.    Expand
5.    Evangelize

1.     My primary purpose is to entertain and provide an escape for the reader.

2.     Second, I hope to encourage them in their Christian walk.

3.     Next, I usually bring some potentially difficult or controversial topics/issues to the book. Examples from previous books are: racism and prejudice; native spirituality and cults; pornography; addictions, abuse, intelligent design, evolutionary conspiracy theory – all topics that are relevant in the church and that Christians may struggle with, but are not necessarily being talked about openly.

4.     Expand the reader’s viewpoint. This is tied to number three directly, since my purpose is not to offer a definitive answer (other than Jesus – period.) I try to stay away from a ‘hardline’ fundamentalist or legalist viewpoint and focus instead on grace. I intentionally try to leave some loose ends and unanswered questions for the reader to ponder, hopefully coming to their own conclusions or delving further into a topic.

5.     Evangelism is not my primary focus since my assumption is that my target audience is already Christian. However, the gospel message is usually included so someone coming to Christ would be a definite bonus.

If you are an author, what is your primary purpose for your writing? If you are a reader, what kinds of things do you look for in a book?