Friday, December 28, 2007

Creative Exhaustion

I like to do funny calendars for people as Christmas presents. I like to take an ordinary calendar and add to the pictures, putting in word balloons and pictures of my own to give the image a new, comical meaning. For example, if there's a water setting in one of the calendar's pictures, I'll draw in some shark fins and maybe a swimmer or two getting eaten. It's fun, it's creative, and it's a challenge.

This year I did five calendars. I did one for my parents, my brother and his wife, my sister, my sister-in-law, and Violet. Five calendars, each with twelve pictures (some had December '07, and therefore 13 pictures). All that added up to a lot of creative work needing to be done by Christmas. I'm happy to say I finished the last one off on Christmas Eve, and the next day they were all very well received.

However, for all the time I was working on those calendars, I couldn't write a thing. It actually isn't all that easy to come up with funny stuff for every calendar picture. With some images I have ideas straight away, but there are always a couple of pages that stump me right up until the deadline I simply couldn't do that and work on a novel at the same time, and when I was done I needed three days before I could pick up my pen once more. I'd strained my resources to the breaking point, and needed a rest.

Was it worth it? Hell, yes! Seeing my family laugh at the work I'd done was so rewarding. Yes, I do wish I'd been able to push further ahead with The 25 Demons You Meet In Hell, but I'm back into it now. I don't think I'm going to finish it off by New Year's as I'd hoped, however. My new target date for that one is the end of January. I'd better mark that on a calendar...

That In-Between Time

We are now in that time between Christmas and New Year's, a time to recover from the holidays while gearing up to start fresh in 2008. It's a strange time that feels sort of anticlimactic; Christmas is over, the presents have been exchanged, family members have been hugged, but now it's time to go back to the real world.

I went to visit my family in Ottawa, and it was a packed house. In addition to my parents, Violet and myself, there was my sister Claire, my brother Richard, his wife Claire, and their daughter Imogen. It wasn't the greatest of times for everyone; my sister was sick, then whatever she had spread to Richard and Imogen. Violet and I escaped that, but we had bad news of our own. On Christmas morning we learned from Violet's sister Georgina that their mom had gone into the hospital, and that it was fairly serious. She's been in and out of the hospital a lot lately, due to blood problems in her legs, but this time it was her kidneys and liver. Violet and I had to decide whether to return to Toronto immediately to check on her, or wait for more news from Georgina.

In the end we decided to stay with my family. There was nothing we could do for her even if we did make the five-hour trek, so we waited and hoped for the best. After dinner, Violet got through to Georgina and learned that their mother was doing much better. The relief was enormous. We visited her in hospital as soon as we got back into the city on Boxing Day, and she was in good spirits. She will have to stay there a while longer, though.

I'm glad Violet and I didn't rush off. I'd been really looking forward to that holiday after the stress of a month and a half of fruitless job hunting. It's selfish, but I really didn't want my time with my family to be cut short. We had a lot of fun together, and I'm very grateful for that. I'm also very grateful that my wife's mother is in good hands.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Book Signing A Success!

Yesterday I had my book signing at Indigo Spirit, and it went really well. The staff were glad to have me back (I've signed there twice before for Attack of the Intergalactic Soul Hunters), and so was I. Here's how well I did:

Attack of the Intergalactic Soul Hunters - 5

Epoch - 19!

Twenty-four books in total. Not a bad haul for four hours work. A few of my friends turned up, including my actor friend Vijay (thanks, man!) and my former co-workers Regina and Anna. Even Lorraine, one of my contacts from my temp agency, turned up! Awesome! Their support was great, but selling to complete strangers is a real confidence-builder for me. I have a good pitch ("It's a comedy about the end of the world!"), the cover is awesome, and the book is successful.

It's days like this that I live for.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My Birthday Party

I'm happy to say that my birthday party this weekend was a great success. Friends came in from all over the city, in spite of hideous weather conditions. Booze was uncorked, laughs were had, and little Karma was the life of the party. There was a nice mix of people from the spoken word community, as well as three friends Violet reconnected with on Facebook.

I told my friends not to bring presents, so naturally they all brought presents. I got booze (whiskey, wine and Baileys) and I got books. One book was titled: Marriage and Homosexuality - A Christian Response. My friend Paisley knows of my weird obsession with freaky religious stuff, so she went and got it for me from the Focus On The Family people. We all took turns reading it, and got very angry at the backward thinking and general offensiveness it represented. I'll definitely have to review it in Biblical Proportions soon.

The other book I got was Stephen Colbert's I Am America And So Can You. Cheers, Jeff!

Today was basically a relaxing, stress-free day for Violet and I. We worked on various projects - she on her final school assignment, and me on my Christmas calendars. Every year I like to take various calendars and adding stuff to them (dialogue, extra pictures, captions, etc) to make them funny. It's something unique I can give to people, and they are fun to do.

Next week I will continue to job-hunt, although I fear my chances of finding work before the new year are slim. I've also got my book signing coming up on Tuesday. That will be a lot of fun!

Friday, December 14, 2007

...And I'm Fired.

Yep. Just like that. I worked half a day for them on Wednesday, then yesterday after only half an hour, they told me it wasn't working out. No explanation, nothing.

True, I'd made a couple of mistakes that morning. The supervisor asked me to use a machine that measures and cuts strands of velcro, and I put in the wrong code. In the wrong spot. And I didn't feed the velcro in properly. I'd worked with it the previous day, so the supervisor no doubt felt I was up to speed on it. I figured it was no big deal. Everybody makes mistakes, especially in their first couple of days, right?

Well, apparently she felt differently. When the manager arrived she rushed off to talk to her, then the manager came over to give me the bad news. She didn't say it was because of the mistakes I'd made that morning, or because of something I'd done the previous day. Like I said, no explanation.

They just fired me. On my Birthday. Can you beat that?

The worst part was telling Violet. She was very upset - angry on my behalf, and distressed at the same time. We'd both been so happy that I'd landed another job, it hadn't occurred to either of us it could be snatched away so quickly.

The day didn't end badly, however. Violet took me out to dinner at our favourite restaurant, The Willow. We had one of their best dishes, then shared a deep-fried ice cream. Excellent stuff. We chatted, we laughed, we looked longingly into each others' eyes, etc... We left feeling happy.

And that's the best way to end a Birthday, isn't it?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My 35th Birthday!

Today I turned 35. Yay! Birthdays are always happy days for me. Unlike some, I don't care how 'old' I get, as long as I remain a big kid inside.

I was going to say something really deep and profound, but then Karma knocked over a glass of water on the dining room table. Now that the table's dry once more, I forgot what I was going to say. Oh well. It probably would've been rubbish anyway.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Back To Work!

It seems my decision to start taking my antidepressants again was the right one, as my life has instantly turned around! I start a new job today, working as a shipper/receiver/general office person at a company called Muttluks. Apparently they make boots and other assorted items for dogs. Sounds like a fun atmosphere. And the pay rate is excellent, too!

I'd like to thank Craigslist, where I found the posting that led me to Hunt Personnel, who got me the job. I'd also like to thank my friend Paisley Rae, who suggested I try looking on Craigslist. Thank you all!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Back On The Meds

A couple of weeks ago I proudly announced I was going off my antidepressant medication. Now I'm back on them again, as of this morning. I don't want to go into great detail, just that Violet and I both concluded it was the best thing for me at the moment. I gave it a good try, but it is clear to me I still need medication until I get a better handle on my thoughts and the moods they set off.

At least I have some good news. I had a job interview today for TD Bank, and it went so-so. Then I spoke to someone at Hunt Personnel, who had posted a job offer on Craig's List last week. They have a well-paying job on the offering, and thought I would be perfect for it. I go in for my interview (and temp agency testing) tomorrow morning. If all goes well, I could be employed again by the end of this week!

Also, I had a toothache off and on this weekend, and this morning it seemed particularly bad. However, my local dentist gave me an X-ray and found nothing wrong, all for the cost of $50. That's only a quarter of what I expected to pay! Then again, I didn't get a full cleaning, which apparently costs the other three quarters. So I don't have a cavity, as I'd feared! And I didn't have to break the bank to get it checked out! Sometimes, a little peace of mind can do wonders.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Tim Burton Owes Me 40 Bucks!

Twice this week the movies interfered with my desire to earn an income and not starve. On Wednesday I went out the the Queensway cinema (as far West out of the city as I am East) for a free advance screening of Sweeney Todd, courtesy of my good friend Monica. I thought the movie was one of the most pretentious pieces of garbage I've ever seen, but everyone around me seemed to like it. Then I got home and found a message from my temp agency, telling me to call them back for a four-hour job the next morning! I left my apartment at 4 to get to the cinema early, so I missed the call at home. Then I was in the cinema, and missed the calls to my cellphone. Needless to say, I didn't get that job - by the time I found out about it, it was far too late to call anybody back to get details. It would only have been for four hours at $10 an hour, so no great loss.

And it did mean I got a good title for this post out of the deal. No, Tim Burton, you do not owe me 40 bucks. Nor do I want my money back for that movie. It was a free screening, and worth every penny I paid.

Fast-forward to yesterday, when I went to George Brown College to drop something off for Violet, who was at work. I decided that, since I was downtown and close to a cheap Rainbow cinema, I would take myself to The Mist, which I've been wanting to see for a long time. This time I was clever and had my cellphone at the ready, and called to see if the agency had anything for me. They did not. But no sooner had I ended the call when I found I had a voicemail - from someone at the agency who'd been calling me at the same time I'd been calling them! After waiting ten minutes on hold I finally got through to him, and he told me I had an interview lined up for Monday! Excellent! I went off to see the movie in good spirits.

Those good spirits were dashed by The Mist, not because it was bad but because it was so very good. One of the best horror films I've ever seen, and one of the few to actually frighten me. When I got home, however, I found two messages not from my agency but from job postings I'd contacted on Craig's List, asking me to call back to them straight away!

The lesson here seems to be, if you're unemployed, never go to the movies. It's not disastrous, though - I'll call everybody back on Monday, and it seems I will soon have my pick of jobs. Good things come to those who wait... at home.

Friday, December 7, 2007

But Seriously...

When I was at Con*Cept two months ago, I was on a panel discussing urban fantasy, and I said something that I now realize wasn't really true. I told that audience that, when it comes to my writing, my first instinct is to go for something funny. I'd like to think that about myself - I like the image of me as a funny guy - but that doesn't accurately describe everything I write. As soon as I'd said it, hundreds of examples of my 'serious' side went through my mind.

For example, I have two as-yet-unpublished novels called The Last Nephilim and The Last Nephilim's Decision that aren't funny at all. They tell the story of a girl who discovers she is an angel/human hybrid (a nephilim), and that angels have been hunting her kind into extinction since the beginning of creation. In fact, she's the very last one. The books have elements of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Star Wars in them, and I could have easily chosen to write them funny. I did not, however. I wanted them serious, and I wanted them dark. And, not to toot my own horn or anything, but The Last Nephilim came 3rd place in a literary contest.

Another example is Cupidity, one of the books I'm working on now. It's about a teen who dies and becomes a Cupid, responsible for making people fall in love with each other. I planned for it to be funny, but I think the mix will be more half-and-half when it is done. It won't be as funny as Epoch or Soul Hunters, but I'm happy with the way it is turning out. The thing is, that might make it a bit harder to market, since my previous books have established me as a funny guy with wacky stories. I love telling people that Epoch is a comedy about the end of the world, because that always gets people's attention. And people love to laugh. But will readers follow me if my next book is dark and creepy?

Is there a place for my more serious side? I'd like to hope so. Some writers manage that balance quite nicely; Tanya Huff and Peter David come to mind. Basically, I'm still developing my voice, and I write the way the story tells me it wants to be written. Hopefully I will find that balance that Tanya and Peter do so (seemingly) effortlessly. Until then, I'm thinking of shoe-horning some more jokes into Cupidity.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Review in School Library Journal!

Brian, my publicist at Llewellyn, sent me the following review from the School Library Journal:

CARTER, Timothy. Epoch. 264p. Flux. 2007. pap. $8.95. ISBN 978-0-7387-0166-2. LC number unavailable.
Gr 7 Up–At his school’s end-of-the-world-themed science fair, 14-year-old Vincent Drear’s presentation consists simply of literature from his parents’ church. The teen’s family is Triumvirate, followers of a branch of Christianity that believes that dire times are ahead and that only they know the path to salvation. Vincent, not an observant follower, wonders if there is more to life. Then he learns from pixies Clara and Nod that Earth’s rejuvenation will begin in two days. In order to rid the world of the current dominant species, whose epoch is at an end, Portal Sites will appear to allow all life-forms to leave this world for another. When they close, demons will destroy any who remain from the formerly dominant species, and many others as well. Vincent, with the help of his brother and friends Chanteuse and Big Tom, as well as elves, pixies, and ogres, sets out to discover why the portals have been hidden and who seeks to destroy humanity. In this fast-paced novel, readers will identify with Vincent’s ability to see goodness in the world, and will root for him and his companions as they triumph over evil. At times things seem too superficial and a bit silly, but the story will hold readers’ attention. The countdown clock at the beginning of each chapter adds to the suspense. The issue of the apocalypse and its religious overtones might not be everyone’s cup of tea but, overall, Epoch is entertaining.–Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY


Wow, the worst thing they said about me is that, at times, I can be silly. Actually, there are very rare moments in my life when I'm not silly! Okay, it's about half-and-half. Either way, this is a good review and I'm very happy. Thank you, Donna Rosenblum!

Jobs, Jobs, Where Art Thous?

A bit of luck on the employment front. I had a job last weekend, working at a craft class for kids at the Oneofakind show. I helped a truly lovely person named Penny to teach kids how to make magic wands out of art supplies, and had a jolly good time doing it. It was only four days, and hard and (at times) stressful work, but well worth it and I'm very glad I did it.

Then, on Monday, the unemployment continued. I got really miserable about it, then decided to just let it go. I'm applying online for jobs now, and I've reactivated my accounts at two other temp agencies. I'm doing all I can do. Until then, I shall refuse to be stressed. The universe will unfold as it should.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Am I a Bad Person For Not Buying Your Book?

I was really cheesed off a few months ago during the Burningeffigy Press launch of my sci/fi comedy, Section K. I put in the legwork, did a decent reading and entertained a not-inconsiderable number of people who'd come out to the event. At the end of the evening, however, I found out we'd only sold three copies.

Three copies? I was livid! This was the launch of the book, for Heaven's sake! People who come to launches are supposed to buy books, I thought. After all, what else was that event for? I wanted to jump up on stage and yell at them, "What is wrong with you people? Get back here and buy something! We didn't go to all this trouble just so you could admire the pretty cover art!" I knew they had money on them; plenty of drinks were served that night. So why weren't these people who'd come out to support local artists buying more copies of Section K?

Well, last Saturday it was my turn. My friend Monica, editor and publisher of Burningeffigy Press, threw a launch to promote two new new chapbooks, Words Written Backwards by acclaimed horror scribe Gemma Files, and Sea Change by Toronto's Junior Poet Laureate, Adebe D.A.. And I didn't buy either of them. Last Saturday, I was the one not supporting local talent. Does that make me a hypocrite? Or am I just an ass-goblin?

I like to think that I'm neither. So why didn't I shell out for their books? Simple - I knew I was never, ever going to read them. I've done a lot of supporting writers in the past, and their books sit on my shelf gathering dust. I do like horror, but I just don't like Gemma Files' writing. Sorry, Gemma, but your writing style doesn't do it for me. I'm also not that into poetry, unless it's really cool and speaks to me on a level that I get. My friend Cynthia Gould does that perfectly. Ditto most of Monica's work. To me, however, they are the exceptions that prove the poetic rule. Adebe is a very good poet, I'm sure, but I know I'm not going to read her work, either.

This year, with my finances already really strained, I simply can't support everybody. Therefore, I'm only going to buy books that I'm actually going to read. And that's hitting the nail right on the flat, non-pointy part, isn't it? When it comes to buying books, most people are only going to buy what they're actually going to read. And people in the literary community just aren't that into science fiction comedy. The same way I'm not that into poetry and literary works. It's not that the people who came to the Section K launch were cheap bastards - they just weren't ever going to read my book. Finally I can accept that.

Sorry Adebe and Gemma. If it helps, I did feel bad about not buying your stuff.

Temp Pest

It's official - I've become a pest to my temp agency. I called them up today to see if there were any job possibilities, and my contact said, "Yes, I got your message yesterday. Just call us once a week. We'll call you if anything comes in."

Yikes. Sounds an awful lot like "Don't call us, we'll call you." I know I'm taking that the wrong way; they're trying their best, and if there was a job they'd tell me about it. Nevertheless, it's not the sort of thing I want to hear when I'm going into my second week of unemployment, especially not with rent due on Friday.

Employment-wise, this has been a really bad year. I'm amazed Violet and I got through it. 2008 will be a better year. For starters, I'll get my first royalty cheque for Epoch! That will be sweet.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Writing This Week

Financial situation be damned! Sometimes it's just good to have a week off. My writing has been going very well - two chapters of The 25 Demons You Meet In Hell, a chapter and a half of Cupidity, and of course numerous blog entries. I've also started typing up what I have so far of Kids Who Know, and am dying to show it to Violet. It feels good to be back in the game. Plus, my agent recently emailed to congratulate me on Epoch's sales, and I couldn't help but feel good about that.

I also felt really good when I met a woman named Beverley Steeles on the subway last week (see, Beverley? I told you I'd blog about you eventually!). She noticed one of my Transformers buttons, and we got to talking about the Robots In Disguise and how cool the movie was, then we talked about gaming and how she was always beating her kids' friends (in video games, not real life). I mentioned I wrote for the young adult market, and she promised to look for my books. Awesome.

Tonight, I will be attending another launch party for Burningeffigy Press. My friend Monica is launching two new chapbooks, and has asked that all of her authors turn up and read something, and generally provide moral support. I will read a short story, but I haven't decided which one yet. If you are reading this and are in Toronto, the event will take place after 8:00 PM at the Renaissance Cafe (on Bloor Street, between Coxwell and Woodbine subway stations).

As fun as this week has been, I do hope I'll be going back to work soon. My temp agency is working on numerous possibilities for me, and I am confident they'll place me with something early next week. Then it will simply be a matter of working my writing schedule around the new job.

In Memory of Popsey

I'm afraid to say my family has suffered another feline loss. No, Karma is just fine, and is even now prowling around on top of the bookcase looking for something to knock over. No, I'm speaking of my parents' cat, Popsey.

Popsey, a beautiful white cat with cow-like black splotches, has been in my family for 18 years. She was a stray, found by neighbours of ours just before they were to head out on a holiday. They asked if we could look after her until they got back, after which they would start looking for a home for her. We didn't really need another cat at the time - Tigger and Christine were handful enough - but she just had such a sweet nature that we couldn't help but fall in love with her.

I'd like to stress that I was not responsible for her name. I'd suggested Pudding, but I was the only one who liked that one. My mom wanted to call her Popsey, and she was alone in that, too. However, she really wanted to name one of the family cats, and she put her foot down. Popsey it was. And looking back, I can't imagine her having any other name.

Apart from being very sweet - she loved licking fingers, and always had to be in a room with someone else in it - she was also extremely clever. While Tigger would just sit and howl for what he wanted, Popsey would try and figure out how to get it for herself. One of her greatest accomplishments was figuring out how to open folding doors. She worked out that if she pushed her head into the middle, a space would open up on the side that she could squeeze her way through. This was not always a welcome skill - we had to shut the cats in the kitchen area each night to keep them from howling us awake at all hours of the morning. Tigger was especially bad, and not just because he was he best howler. He also figured out that if he reached his paws under my parents' bedroom door and tore up the carpet, he got instant attention. To save the carpet, he and the others had to be shut in the kitchen. Which had a folding door. That Popsey loved to push open. You can see the problem.

She was also quite strong. When we were moving house, my mom shut the cats in my father's den in the basement and stacked a couple of crates of pop in front of the door. That would have kept most cats safely secure until all the furniture was out, but Popsey was a very determined little cat. She pushed and she pushed and she got the door open, leading to all kinds of pandemonium trying to get all the cats back in the house again.

Popsey started out very small, but then she discovered canned food and ballooned. It was hard to control her weight because we always had to leave food down for the other two cats. Tigger could be relied upon to eat his food promptly, but Christine was another matter. She liked to look at her food from a distance, then circle her dish a couple of times before finally having a little nibble. Then she'd go away, no doubt planning to finish off her food at a later time. Except there was no later time, because Popsey would woof it. And then, when Tigger started getting old and frail, Popsey would start headbutting him out of the way so she could eat his food. We had to shut Popsey away in order to let the other cats eat, and she would do what she could to outsmart us. She did not start significantly losing weight until Tigger passed away and my sister Claire took Christine with her to Toronto. With only one dish to worry about, my parents got her back down to a healthy weight again.

Sadly, Popsey had other health problems, and had to be put down earlier this week. I was very sad when I got the news - I'd hoped to see her one last time this Christmas. You can't always help these things, of course, and I respect my parents' decision. The house will seem so empty without a cat there.

Goodbye, Popsey. You were loved, and will be missed.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Work... Or Lack Thereof

Ahh, it's Friday. A very special day if you are employed. Sigh.

I'm still certain I made the right decision leaving Manulife's mailroom last week, even though I enjoyed the work and loved the people I was with. Sometimes, though, you can just tell that things will only get worse. The boss (and his bosses) were looking at every way possible to pinch pennies. It even got to the point last week where I finished the work early, so they sent me home early. Most people would be overjoyed with a situation like that. Those people are on salary, and not getting paid only for the hours they have worked. If a temp gets sent home early, they lose pay. "I'd rather stay until 4:30," I told my boss. "I'm sure you would," was his reply.

So not only had they cut two and a half ours out of each workday, but now he was cutting another half hour. As a reward for finishing my work early.

The sad thing is, my boss wasn't a jerk. In most cases he was the nicest of guys. He even had the Dr. Who theme on his cell phone! How cool is that? But when it came to matters of work ethic and money, his dark side came out. That incident wasn't the only time we clashed - we also fought over my breaks. I feel that, as an employee guaranteed two 15 minute breaks by law, I'm entitled to take those breaks when I need them. He felt that breaks should only be taken when all the work was done, or you ran the risk of throwing off the 'work flow'. There was always a constant stream of work, which meant there was never a time during the morning or afternoon when I could take a break.

Then there was the matter of my lunch breaks, but I don't want to get into that. You get the idea, and I didn't want this to degenerate into a sob-fest. Besides, he wasn't nearly so bad as the boss I had before him at Bank of America - the guy who wanted me to use a different photocopier because I could save 15 seconds walking to it. I'm slowly but surely developing a story premise around that guy. Just you wait.

So I made the right decision leaving Manulife. The pay was bad, and then my hours were cut, and it was clear to me my boss and I would get on each others' nerves over other issues, and I just don't want that. Here's hoping my next employers are better.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Withdrawal's A Pain

I've been feeling withdrawal lately, in more ways than one. Withdrawal from blogging, withdrawal from employment, withdrawal from writing, and honest-to-gosh withdrawal from my antidepressant medication.

For those of you who don't know, here is my dark secret. I've been fighting a mild but persistant form of depression for half of my life. I won't go into any great detalil about that here; suffice it to say, I've been dealing with it as best I can.

I made the controversial decision last Friday to stop taking my regular dose of Effexor (probably spelled wrong), the drug I've been on now for the last four years. The effect it was having on me wasn't bad, just not really doing anything for me at all. I've felt this way about Effexor for several months now, but have been afraid to go off it because of what the withdrawal would be like. I'd had a day here and there where I'd forget to take it, and I would feel dizzy and funny in the head the next day. The thought of going off it completely was not tempting.

However, a few things came together and suggested that now was probably the best time. For starters, I don't have a regular doctor any more. My last doctor was a terrific guy, and not just because he bought my books and has a love for Monty Python. Lately, however, he'd been cutting back on his availability, and last week I found out he isn't seeing patients by appointment any more - only on a walk-in basis, between 11-3 on Thursdays. That just wouldn't work with my schedule, and I really need an available doctor if I'm going to keep taking medication. For one thing, I need a doctor just to get prescriptions for the stuff!

Not entirely true - I was told by my pharmacist that they could call my doctor and arrange for a refill. Nevertheless, I decided to go for a fresh start, medication wise. Now was the perfect time to go through withdrawal, for one very simple reason - I'm out of work. After having my hours cut, I gave my notice at Manulife and ended there last Friday. It was sad, but I'll blog about that later. My employment agency had nothing for me for this week, but rather than panic over the lack of income I decided to put the free time to good use.

I am now in day six of my withdrawal from the stuff, and I'm through the worst of it. I'm still a little dizzy, but over the worst of it. What was the worst of it? Drastic mood swings. Really horrible thoughts. Super-intense dreams. I was scared to go to sleep, scared to be alone with my thoughts, and scared to have my wife around in case I gave in to my darker nature (which I never did).

Violet, by the way, has been great through this. She doesn't exactly think I'm doing the smartest thing going cold turkey, but she's there for me and she understands. On Thursday, Violet will take me to a meditation class. We both believe that will help.

And, as Optimus Prime would say, fate has yielded its reward. My writing is back. I really want to work on my projects now, rather than just feeling I should if I could only find the energy and motivation. I predict I will have a finished first draft of The 25 Demons You Meet In Hell by year's end, and Cupidity shortly after that.

Life, once again, is good. I feel good.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Enter the Chick Zone

For those of you who are interested, I just thought I'd fill you in on what's going on over in Biblical Proportions.

I've started reviewing the works of one Jack T. Chick, probably the most notorious tract maker known to humankind. A number of people have asked me since I started the blog when I'd be getting around to his work. Well, the time is now!

Enjoy. If you can.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Reduced Hours Begin

So begins day one of my reduced hours at work. Not so bad, actually - I have time to blog, and in a few minutes I'm going to watch The Daily Show. And I got to sleep in an extra hour. All good things, until you factor in that I'm not getting paid for any of this free time.

It's a shame - these new hours could really work out for me, if only the pay was higher. I like having the morning free - that's when I'm most creative. I need a job with this many hours but paying enough to live on. That would be ideal for my situation.

Sigh.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Blocked? Not Exactly...

Last week was not so good. For one thing, my writing output has really dropped off. Normally I get a couple of pages done in a day, but lately I'm lucky if I make it through a paragraph.

Stress kills writing. It kills my mood, and I can't write when I'm in a down mood.

And I had two really good reasons for being in a down mood this week. First, I found out that an author event I've been trying to set up at a big Indigo bookstore has been cancelled. Second, My boss told me that, starting Monday, my hours would be cut. It seems there simply isn't enough work to justify my position, at least on a full-time basis.

Two things led to this. One, the mailroom just got rid of some work. We were all very happy to see it go, but we should have known better. Two, we've been doing a process called Benchmarking for the last three weeks. This involves writing down exactly what we do and how long it takes us to do it. Looking at the numbers, and factoring in the work that's gone, someone's time had to get chopped. And when you've got three full-timers and one temp, well... it's a pretty easy choice.

The sad thing is, they were going to hire me on full time back in August. I went through two interviews, and then they went quiet. Now I know why. Too bad. I would have gotten dental benefits. I haven't seen a dentist in over a year. Suckage.

Heh. I remember I made a commitment to being more positive a few posts back. What happened to that?

I do have some good news. I have a book signing set up at a smaller Indigo store on December 18. It used to be a Coles, where I've done signings before. That will be fun. I'll have something good to blog about that day.

Small Press Fair

Last Saturday was the Fall Toronto Small Press Fair. My friend and editor Monica rented a table, and I joined her for the last two hours of the day. Sales weren't good - for anybody, or so I heard. Lots of lookers, but not that many buyers. Still, I managed to sell one copy of Epoch and three copies of Section K. Not bad. Not great, but not bad. And I got to hang out with my friends, which is always a good thing.

After the Small Press Fair, Violet and I went out to dinner. We hadn't been out for a date in a while, so it was long overdue. The service was slow but the food was good, and it was just great to relax in the company of the woman I love.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Another Epoch Review!

Ah, it's good to blog again. As with last year, I have to squeeze my blogging in when my wife Violet isn't doing her homework.

That's why I've waited until now to spread the good news about a new review of Epoch, courtesy of The Book Connection here on Blogspot. You can read the review by clicking on this sentence.

I was very happy to read that review after the pounding The Globe and Mail gave me. Ego boosts all around!

In other Tim news, I've got a signing gig lined up with Indigo Spirit in First Canadian Place here in downtown Toronto, for December 18. I've signed there twice before (when they were Coles), but this will be my first one for Epoch. I can't wait for that! I'm also trying to line up an author event at the Indigo at Younge & Eglinton. I've talked to all the people that need talking to, and they want me to do it, but we still haven't managed to secure a date. I am hopeful this issue will be resolved this week.

Writing-wise, I've finished Part 1 of Kids Who Know. And, even though I abandoned it in the summer, I've gone back to The 25 Demons You Meet In Hell. And, I'm also working on Cupidity. This seems to be the way I'll be writing for the foreseeable future - doing books a chunk at a time. I used to be able to stick with one novel all the way through, but now things are different. Now I'm trying to think of what my publisher will like best, and that's having an effect on my work. This is a new phase of my life as a writer. I just hope I'm up to the challenge.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Con*Cept

I meant to post this the moment I got home from Montreal last weekend, but by then Violet and I were exhausted and just wanted to sleep. Then, Violet needed the computer for schoolwork, so it has taken me until now to finally get back to blogging.

Con*Cept was fun, and a nice change from Toronto-based conventions. Violet and I drove down to Brockville on Friday night and spent the night with her sister Georgina, then the three of us drove on to Montreal the following morning and arrived at 10:30 at the convention. As we were setting up our table, I was informed I was supposed to be on a panel right then. Apparently someone forgot to email me and let me know this crucial bit of information. I missed that panel, but I did two more that day, and a reading that night - much more than I could have hoped for, given how late I'd got my panel requests in. Georgina went off to explore Montreal while Violet and I started to make sales.

My first panel was on the definition of Urban Fantasy, on which two of my fellow panelists were Tanya Huff and Nancy Kilpatrick. Both women are authors I admire, and it was a lot of fun to discuss Urban/Contemporary Fantasy with them. The next panel was a discussion on the end of the world in sci/fi and fantasy fiction, which was perfect for me given the theme of Epoch.

My third panel of the day was all about Transformers, my favourite fantasy. There were about ten people in attendance, two of whom were Violet and Georgina. Georgina was bored out of her mind, poor girl. We went out for Indian buffet afterwards, a delicious meal for the low price of $70 for the three of us. Ouch. Thank God for Visa.

My reading was at nine that night, and it was sparsely attended - just five people, one of whom was Violet. However, another attendee was Tanya Huff, who told me she once flew to Calgary to do a reading to only two people. That made me feel better. I stayed for the reading of Taly Danan, author of The Phoenix Child and a new friend of mine, then I went off to do some writing before calling it a night. Overall, Saturday was a very good day.

Sunday was not so good. I woke up with a headache, and it got worse as the day progressed. Having the world's worst breakfast in the hotel cafeteria did not help, especially when I saw the bill. Seventeen dollars for bacon, ham and sausages with no flavour? I won't make that mistake again.

My first Sunday panel - Making Fantasy Worlds Believable - was at 10. By this point my headache had reached epic proportions, light was making it worse, and nausea had been thrown into the mix. I held my own as well as I could, but I was suffering badly. I had another panel immediately afterward - Is Fantasy Necessary? - so I ducked out quickly to grab some Tylenol. Big mistake. Five minutes later I had to excuse myself from the panel to go throw up in the bathroom. Not pleasant at all, depositing my $17 breakfast into the porcelain phone, but at least it took care of the nausea. Still, the headache was overwhelming, and ten minutes after the barfing I had to excuse myself for the final time to find somewhere to lie down. We'd checked out by this point, so I had to lie down in the car. I put my jacket over my face to block out the light and lay still for an hour, and that did the trick. I was able to function again, and I returned to the dealer's room to make what sales I could.

I made only one sale that Sunday - one copy of Section K - but on Saturday I sold eleven copies of Epoch, six Section K's and four Intergalactic Soul Hunters. Not a bad haul, but in practical terms that barely covered the costs of the hotel and my barfed-up breakfast, let alone the table fee and the gas for getting to and from Montreal. Most of the convention was a good experience, but it is doubtful I will return next year. And not just because of the breakfast.

Monday, October 8, 2007

1500!!!!!

Today is Canada's Thanksgiving holiday, and Violet and I are stuffed full of turkey. Good stuff, turkey is, especially when cooked by Violet's mom and sister. Spoiled rotten, we are.

Today was also the day I'd set aside to talk to Andrew, Llewellyn's acquisitions editor, about The Right Hand of Evil. He didn't have much to say, as he hadn't finished reading it, but he is enjoying it. As for the subject matter... he said he'd love to pitch it to his sales team, just to see the looks on their faces. He did feel that the book could succeed, provided we can find the right way to pitch it. We'll talk again when he's finished reading the book, and see what ideas we can come up with.

But enough of that! Time for the really big news. I asked him how well Epoch was doing, and he told me that the sales figures for Barnes and Noble indicated that 1, 500 copies have sold.

Yes, 1, 500 copies of Epoch have sold. And that's just Barnes and Noble. That doesn't include Canadian sales. It doesn't include sales from Boarders either, but that's because they decided not to carry it at the last minute. Andrew is confident they'll want to pick it up before Christmas.

So there you have it - 1, 500 copies in three months. Isn't that awesome? I knew it was going to succeed, I just knew it!

Thanks to all of you who bought a copy, thereby helping to make that success possible.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Royalties!

It's October, which means it's royalty statement time! My agent just sent me the statements for both of my Llewellyn books, Attack of the Intergalactic Soul Hunters and Epoch, for the period of January to June 2007. Soul Hunters continues to sell, with a further 178 copies flying out of stores and into eager readers' hands. That will earn me very nearly $50. Not exactly fantastic or awesome, but a lot better than no sales at all.

Epoch sold only 57 copies, which had me bummed until I remembered the statement only covered the January to June period. Epoch hit stores in June but didn't officially launch until July, so most of those sales were pre-orders! I heard that Andrew, the acquisitions editor at Llewellyn, is "quite pleased" with how the book is doing, so I can't wait to see the next statement!

Speaking of Andrew, he and I are going to chat tomorrow about my newest book, The Right Hand of Evil. I learned from my agent that he really enjoyed reading the book, even though he thought it had the "least salable premise" of all time. Given that the novel is about a gay teenage boy who becomes a social pariah after he is caught masturbating, I can understand where he's coming from. However, I still feel certain that the controversial subject matter will only make the book irresistible. I just have to convince Andrew of that.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Aww, It's A Book

Word on the Street was a big success for all involved at the Burningeffigy table. In spite of my reservations, I sold six copies of Epoch, one copy of Attack of the Intergalactic Soul Hunters, three copies of Section K, and a few copies of my chapbook, Product of a Deranged Bottom. Monica, who paid for the table, told me she broke even for the first time at Word on the Street, and my friend Jeff sold many copies of his new chapbook, Guilt Pasta. I was very happy with how the day went.

Two amusing things happened. A kid asked me why Epoch is about the end of the world, and I replied, "Because it's funny!" She backed away quickly. Another kid picked Epoch up and flipped through it, then sadly said, "Aww, it's a book!" Not sure what he was expecting, but a novel wasn't it. I had to laugh at that.

Two weeks from now, Violet and I will be attending Con*Cept in Montreal. I strongly suspect Epoch will do very well there. I can't wait!

I must go now. Karma is trying to eat my shoes.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Word On The Street Tomorrow

Tomorrow I will be going to Queen's Park for Word on the Street, the annual literary festival featuring authors and booksellers and, most importantly, readers. My friend and editor Monica has reserved a booth there, and will be showcasing all the authors published by her press, Burningeffigy. Those authors are:
11:00am-1:00pm – Gemma Files
1:00pm-2:00pm – Jeff Cottrill
2:00pm-3:00pm – Adebe D.A.
3:00pm-4:00pm – Timothy Carter
4:00pm-6:00pm – Brett Alexander Savory & Gord Zajac

Each author will have a one-hour window in the booth throughout the day. My time is from 3:00 PM until 4, just in time for tea. An hour is not a lot of time to make a lot of sales, and I have to admit this format is fairly disappointing. Last year I helped Monica to run the booth, stayed for the whole day, and sold over 20 copies of Attack of the Intergalactic Soul Hunters. Of course, this year she is promoting many more authors. Space is limited, and so is time. I understand that. I'll just have to make the most that I can out of that hour.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

My New Blog - Check It Out!

Again, I failed in my goal to write two chapters of Kids Who Know this week. I got through half of one. There is, however, a reason for my slow output on that novel - I've been working on another writing project.

Allow me to introduce my new blog, Biblical Proportions. Those who know me, know I have a bone to pick with organized religeons, Christianity in particular. There's a fair bit of that in my latest novel, Epoch, and a whole lot more in the upcoming (soon, I hope!) The Right Hand of Evil. I've collected a whole bagful of religious tracts over the years, some for research purposes, some for story ideas. I finally decided to do something really fun with them, and Biblical Proportions is the result. In this new blog, I review tracts. I treat them as a form of art, and critique them based on five categories:

1. Likely to Convert
Exactly like it sounds. How likely is it that the tract I'm reviewing will achieve its goal of converting its reader to the Christian faith?

2. Artwork
Some tracts have striking images. Some have lame images. Some have only one picture on their cover, while others are cartoons. The best and worst of tract artwork faces judgment here.

3. Ability to Hold Interest
Some tracts are boring as hell (pun absolutely intended). This category lets readers know which ones have content worth actually looking at, such as...

4. Unintentional Hilarity
Some tracts are really funny for all the wrong reasons. They try to be deadly serious about the peril of your mortal soul, but end up providing guffaws instead of Salvation. They are so serious that you can't take them seriously (seriously!), which is at least better than the final category...

5. Level of Disturbing or Offensive Content.
I've read many that go after the gay community, citing a few out-of-context Bible verses as their justification. Others attack other religions, saying that Christianity is the only way to God. Some are simply in very bad taste - there's one I've just reviewed that suggests the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks might be in Hell now if they hadn't accepted Jesus. These are the tracts that fill me with anger, and deserve to be exposed for what they are.

So that's what I've been doing with most of my spare time. Check out Biblical Proportions, where tracts (and someday, videos and websites) face the wrath of my judgment!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

More Notes From The Wooden Racist

Well, I didn't succeed in my goal for this week. I'm mostly done one chapter, but not the two I'd aimed for. I've just been sluggish. Still, I don't think that two chapters a week is an unreasonable goal. I'll get back into the swing of things.

Karma just came home from the vet this morning. He's just had The Operation, if you know what I mean. The big snip. Rhymes with tutored. I missed the little bugger last night, so I'm sure glad to have him back now. I treated him to a plate of tuna, which he woofed in less than a minute. That's my boy!

Monday, September 10, 2007

I Got Served!

My publicist at Flux sent word to me of a review of Epoch in The Globe and Mail. Naturally this got me very excited, so I followed the link and read the review...

Ouch. Not only did the reviewer say the book was "wooden", he subtly accused me of being a racist. Never saw that one coming. I got served, big time.

You can find the review here.

There's no such thing as bad publicity, but still...

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Creative Blahs

I haven't been having a very creative weekend so far, and it's almost over. I've been feeling a bit blocked, and not at all sure why. My new book, Kids Who Know, was going so well, and then I seemed to hit a wall. That's been happening far too often this year for my liking. Money stress and creative output do not mix well.

Still, I'm up to five chapters on Kids Who Know, and I also added another couple of chapters to Cupidity. I'm also typing up what I've written so far of The 25 Demons You Meet In Hell. Maybe I just need to jump from project to project this year. If that's what keeps me going, then so be it.

I had a nice family get-together today. My aunt Anne turned 75 (or she will on Tuesday), so a large number of family got together to celebrate. Whenever I attend these family events, I always spend most of my time with my cousins' kids. I just love kids. Especially them. After all, they (and others like them) are the ones I'm trying to reach with my novels (most of them, anyway). That, and I'm a big kid myself.

I'm going to set a goal for myself this week - two chapters of Kids Who Know, written by the time I come home from work on Friday. I'll post again then to let you all know I succeeded.

Monday, September 3, 2007

More Karma!

Just felt like sharing a few more pictures of our wonderkitty. Enjoy!










Closets doubles its sales!

I just learned that a digital copy of Closets sold last month. That brings its worldwide total up to... two copies. That's right, there's the copy my mom bought last year, and then this latest one. I gave out a lot of flyers for Closets at the convention last weekend; likely the sale was due to one of those.

Promotion does work! Yay!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Epoch Site is Up!


Great news! The website for Epoch, created and designed by my wife Violet, is now up and ready for your viewing pleasure. You can see it by clicking on this sentence.

Check it out!

More Con Photos





I promised photos from last weekend's Sci/Fi Expo, so here they are! Enjoy.





This is me with Monica S. Kuebler, creator of Burningeffigy Press and editor of Section K.




Here I am, defending myself from the villainous Cobra Commander and Destro. Where are the Joes when you need them? Hawk? Flint? Duke? Gung-Ho? Roadblock, maybe? Hell, I'll even take Tripwire or Rip-Cord.











These are the buttons Monica made to help promote Section K. They were a big hit at the Con, because they were free!




One last shot of Violet and me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sci-Fi Expo

I'm happy to report that last weekend's Sci-Fi Expo at the Toronto Metro Convention Centre was a smashing success for me, my wife Violet, and my books. In total I sold twenty (!) copies of Epoch, nine copies of Attack of the Intergalactic Soul Hunters, and six copies of Section K. All in all, a most rewarding (and profitable!) weekend.

Money aside, I was just happy to get the word out about myself and my work. That's what you've got to do in this biz! I'm feeling so good about it, I might just sign myself up for Con*Cept in Montreal this October!

Here are some pictures from the event:


That's me at my table, doing my author thing.













This is my reaction to a truly horrible cup of convention tea. Ugh!








This is me wearing a 'Jayne' hat. All you Browncoats out there know what I'm talking about. For the rest, it was the hat sent to Jayne from his mother on the fantastic series, Firefly. Someone was knitting those hats and selling them, so Violet picked one up. Don't I look grand?










This is my lovely and adorable wife, Violet, wearing the Jayne hat. Isn't she cute?








Violet and I, at the table, selling lots of books.









More pictures to come.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Half-Baked Rules

I'll start this post on a positive note - I'm feeling much better than I did when I last posted. Today I'm winning the battle against despair and negative thoughts.

Good though I'm feeling, I did just get some bad news. This weekend is the Sci-Fi Expo, where I'll have a table to sell Epoch, Section K and Soul Hunters. I thought a great gimmick would be to have baked goods on my table. A friend of my sister is an excellent baker, and she was all ready to make me 100 of the most mouth-wateringly good treats you can imagine. And I just found out the convention people have a rule against exhibitors giving away food at their tables.

That was a bit of a blow. Still, I have plenty of other tricks up my sleeve. I have no doubt this weekend will be a smashing success.

Unless, of course, I blow all my money on stuff. Which is always a danger at these things.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Is It August Already?

Yes, apparently it is. Blogging has taken a real back seat for me lately. I've been working in a mailroom, which involves a lot more rushing around than I'm used to. I enjoy the work more than most other jobs I've done, but when I come home the last thing on my mind is blogging.

The past year has been a real test for me. I went from one job I didn't like into one that started well but quickly went to hell. My cat, the Moosh, passed away, and I went through four months of unemployment. I made a commitment to being positive, and found that promise harder and harder to keep.

This should have been a great year for me - Violet and I celebrated our second year as a married couple, and I launched not one but two novels. Today, my niece Imogen turns 2. Plus, I have an adorable kitten. And there's finally a live-action Transformers movie (I've seen it three times, so far). There's not a whole lot to be miserable about.

I've read The Secret and many books like it, and have seen evidence that positive thoughts can change a person's world for the better. So why is it so hard for me to be positive?

Today started badly - I was in a horrible mood, for no obvious reason. I spent my writing time just staring at my notebook, not even wanting to open it. Then, as the day wore on, I started to feel better. Then I felt depressed that I let myself fall so far.

This is the challenge for me, for this stage of my life. I have all the tools I need to conquer my sadness. I just need to learn how to use them.

Woah. I didn't intend for this post to get so depressing when I started - I just wanted to do a simple update. I promise my next post will be more uplifting, and fun.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Project Envy Part II: Abandonment

I blogged recently about having a fantastic story idea whilst in the middle of a project. Well, guess what? That fantastic story idea has now become my primary project, and Cupidity and The 25 Demons You Meet In Hell have been relegated to the backburner.

This wasn't an easy decision. For one thing, is sure as hell doesn't look professional. What if 25/Hell had been under contract? I'd have a hard time justifying that to an editor, or my agent. Thing is, sometimes it is a decision you have to make for your own creative good.

I wasn't happy with 25/Hell. Can't say exactly what it was; I had a funny main character, and a vision of Hell that I thought was pretty unique. Plus, a killer title. So what went wrong? I really can't say. I'd managed to get through 12 chapters, after all. Couldn't I have held on a bit longer?

But there's the rub - I was hanging on to that project simply to hang on to it. Inside I was wishing I were doing something better. Then I came upon an idea with some real meaning for me, and I longed to jump straight into it. I held that new idea at bay for two weeks, hoping that 25/Hell would reinspire me. It didn't. So now I've launched my next book, tentatively titled Kids Who Know, and I've already written the first chapter. It feels right, and the writing isn't just a struggle. At least, so far. Time will tell how well this new project will work out for me.

As for 25/Hell (and, for that matter, Cupidity and a few other half-finished projects on my hard-drive), I will hold onto it for the time being. Maybe I'll get to the point where I'll really want to tell that story again. Or maybe not. We'll see. In the meantime, please wish me luck with Kids Who Know. May it turn out to be everything I want - and need - it to be.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Karma


Some of you have asked to see a picture of the new addition to our family. Here is Karma, our adorable kitten, savaging my shoes. Isn't he cute?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Polaris & Beyond

It feels like forever since I've been here - my life suddenly got very busy and I've had very little time to sit down at a computer and blog.

First and foremost, I want to discuss Polaris, formerly known as Toronto Trek. This is another annual sci-fi convention for Toronto, and it happened July 6-8. I rented a table, spoke on six panels, and sold lots and lots of books. I created a bunch of fake religious tracts to promote Epoch and Section K, and they got a good laugh (though more than a few people thought they were real tracts and walked away quickly). I met and talked on panels with writers I respect and admire, including the wonderful Tanya Huff, who gave me a quote for Section K. All in all, a great weekend.

I owe lots of praise and thanks to my supportive wife, Violet, who came with me and managed the table while I was off doing my stuff. On the Saturday evening I had three panels in a row, meaning I had to leave her on her own for three hours. She managed, and even made some sales while I was gone.

It's great to have the perfect woman for you at an event like that. Not that I could keep her away - she loved the convention, and spent a lot more money than I did on sci fi stuff. She bought a remote-control K-9, the robot dog from Doctor Who. He rolls around our apartment making laser noises, saying "Affirmative, Master!" and frightening Karma, our kitten. I tried to limit my spending, but I did shell out for Cyber-Stompin' Bumblebee for Violet. Bumblebee is one of the Transformers, and my wife thinks he's really cute. She has a collection of Bumblebee action figures, and has every single version ever produced since 1984. When the Transformers movie came out, all of a sudden there were many more Bumblebees to buy. Cyber-Stompin' was one of them, and so Violet had to have it for her collection. She now has 18, but I think there are a few more out there somewhere.

Now that Polaris has been, come and gone, I'm back to a more or less regular life. I have a temp assignment that is going well, spelling an end to my four-month banishment from the workplace. I'm still writing The 25 Demons You Meet In Hell, but I've put Cupidity on hold for the time being. Plus, I've seen Transformers movie twice now, with more screenings soon to come! I'm a lot busier, but I'm having a great summer.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Epoch Reviewed!

Epoch is officially released next week, but already I have one glowing review from Canadian Review of Materials (CM)! Check this out!

I tell you, this brightened up my day like nobody's business. Completely blew away my disappointment over the rejection of Young Nostradamus. My editor didn't think the story had a very salable hook, not like Epoch had. Epoch had the end of the world as a comedy, whereas YN has a kid with the ability to predict the future - not half as catchy. He invited me to resubmit it in four months time, by which point the numbers for Epoch will have rolled in. If Epoch does well (which it will, say it with me!) then he will reconsider his decision on Young Nostradamus.

That means Epoch must be a hit. And with a review like the one linked above, it is on the right track.

It will be a hit. A big one. I can feel it!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Right Hand Revealed!

I promised a few posts back that when I submitted my novel, The Right Hand of Evil, to my agent, I would reveal what it is all about. Well, I actually submitted it over a week ago, so I owe you guys. Here it is:

The Right Hand of Evil is about a gay teenage boy living in a predominantly Christian town, who becomes socially ostracized when he is caught masturbating. Nobody in the town has a problem with his being gay, but they cannot deal with the knowledge that he plays solo on his joystick. The book is essentially about the ridiculous lengths certain religious types will go to in order to punish a specific sin, based on a line or two of text written thousands of years ago.

There you have it. I want to publish the first young adult comedy that deals maturely with the subject of masturbation. I don't make toilet-humour jokes out of the subject matter; rather, the humour comes from the town's reaction to it. Nevertheless, I am convinced that the subject of masturbation will make Right Hand so controversial that it will become a huge, gotta-have-it bestseller. First, of course, I can find a publisher brave enough to handle it.

I could of course be wrong; parents might not want their kids reading a book about hand jockeys. And masturbation might not be the hot-button topic I think it is. However, that's not what my instincts are telling me. And besides, I had to write this book, knew it with every fibre of my being as soon as it popped into my head. I'll let readers make their own judgments.

No word yet on what my agent thinks. I can't wait to have that conversation! I'll post as soon as I hear back from him.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tim, the Repentant Complainer

I love to complain. Just love it. Whinging and whining about all the bad things that have befallen poor widdle me.

I love it, but I'm finally starting to see how it is counterproductive, especially given my dedication to a more positive outlook.

I don't have much to complain about right now. My wife Violet and I recently celebrated our two-year anniversary, I am a published author, I have good friends, I have a new kitten named Karma (photos will come as soon as I figure out how to post them), and the Transformers movie is less than a month away.

And yet, get me started and off I go. I don't complain as much as I used to, but there is one subject I always jump for: bad jobs. I did a short job contract a couple of weeks ago, and my co-worker and I got to know each other by comparing and commiserating about our previous job experiences. The stories flowed out of me, stories of bad bosses and ridiculous business practices and negative job environments. And as I told those stories, I felt them.

Complaining about jobs puts me in a bad mood. If I was hurt or angered by them, it's as if it happened yesterday. Or five minutes ago. And that really doesn't do me any good.

It's not so bad when I laugh about things. If I talk about how stupid a boss was, or how insane a place was, I can make a joke out of it and we all laugh. However, my mind is still loaded with the negativity of the situation. It draws more negative thoughts to me, even if my mood remains jovial.

As a species, I think we are drawn by the pull of negativity. There's something about it that fascinates us. Action movies are popular, as is any story with a good conflict. Comedians get the best laughs by describing their observation and reaction to negative situations. Heck, I just wrote a comedy about the end of the world (Epoch)!

It's not all bad, though. Stories of overcoming negativity are vital. When we see, hear or read about someone going through a bad situation and coming out the other side, it gives us hope and leads by example. Negativity can be a force for good if harnessed properly.

I guess what I'm saying is, when I complain I feel I'm not harnessing it properly. I tend to dwell on old hurts, and whinging reminds me of all of them. I'm not a lost cause, though. I monitor my thoughts a lot more closely now, and keep my focus on what I want (instead of job situations I don't want). I'm winning the battle with my negative side, and I'm all the better off for it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Project Envy

I get project envy. I'll be working on one novel or story when I'll have a great idea for another one. The idea is great, absolutely brilliant, and I absolutely can't wait to get started on it.

Except, I'm in the middle of another story. I don't like stopping a novel in mid-stream; when I've done it in the past, I tend not to get back to the first project for a long time, if ever. I have a number of quarter-to-half-finished novels either sitting in notebooks or my laptop, waiting for me to return to them. Among them is the second sequel to Attack of the Intergalactic Soul Hunters. I just gave up on it when my publisher turned the first sequel down. Others I stopped doing because the new idea I had was too good to resist.

I don't like to stop in mid-project, so many times I will file the idea away for later. This will be the next one, I tell myself. I'll get to it just as soon as I'm done the current one. But later rarely comes. If I don't jump on an idea that good immediately, it will fade in importance until it simply isn't as irresistible any more. Another idea will gladly take its place.

So, what to do? And is it even necessarily a problem? I know a lot of writers who will say they wished they had too many ideas to choose from. Well, if you want to get one project finished, having lots of other ideas can be a mite distracting.

Currently I am working on two projects, one of which I started a year ago, based on a false start I had a few years before that. It is a project I have put on hold many times in favour of other books (like Young Nostradamus and The Right Hand of Evil), but I'm now feeling drawn back to it yet again. It's called Cupidity, and it's a YA fantasy about teen love and suicide. I'm certain I will finish it at some point, but other ideas keep getting in the way.

Like my other current project, The 25 Demons You Meet In Hell. This one is about a high school bully who dies and goes to Hell, only to find it isn't a place of fire and brimstone at all. Instead, it is more of a spiritual rehabilitation centre, where he is shown the effect his actions have had on others. I like this project a lot, and feel I am doing some very creative things with it. But is it as good as Cupidity? Which should I give my time to?

Time will tell.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Ideas

I've never been short on ideas. They come to me from everywhere, from anything. A couple of things will come together and bam! I have the makings of a story or a novel.

People will ask writers where they get their ideas. Some answer creatively - "From the store down the street. $14.99, this weekend only!" or "From the outstretched fingers of my dying victims." The former gets you a chuckle. The latter lands you in therapy.

The truth is, ideas come from the world around us. For example, a few weeks ago my wife was watching one of those weight-loss reality shows. It reminded us of a celebrity reality weight loss show we saw together where Liv Tyler's sister was being blasted by a panel of judges for not losing any weight. Liv's sister said she was happy with the way she looked. One judge asked her why she even bothered to live.

Typical reality TV drama moment. But it got me thinking, what if...

What if, in the future, women are forced by law to be a certain weight, with no exceptions? What if the women who won't or can't make that weight are hunted down like dogs? Maybe there's even a reality show where women are forced to slim down or die...

Great idea, full of potential. Relevant, too. It could be a dark comedy about out obsession with appearances, or a serious story about the continued oppression of women.

And that's just one story idea. And they don't all come from TV, I assure you. I had another idea while working my last job, when I was stuck with an obsessive micromanaging supervisor who was constantly worried about 'the perception'. "Don't have a newspaper on your desk. The perception could be that you have nothing better to do with your time but read newspapers." "Always face your desk, even when talking to someone behind you. If you turn around, the perception could be that our group sits around talking all day." He's so afraid of perceptions, I thought. What if there were these creatures called The Perceptors, who roam office hallways looking at and seeing everything that goes on? Are they supernatural entities, or agents of the company? And how do their reports affect the employees? You could be at your desk at work right now reading my blog, with a Perceptor hovering over your shoulder, Seeing you...

Another fun idea. And a great way to get something positive out of a negative situation.

Do you see how it works? I get ideas from the world the world around me. If you want ideas, get out into the world and ask that all-important question - what if? Then use your imagination. Want that in math? How about:

Ideas = what if(world+imagination).

Try it out. Let me know what happens.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

This Week

A lot has happened since last I blogged. My new job came and went (they literally ran out of work for me to do), Violet and I adopted a kitten (his name is Karma), and I got Violet's opinion on The Right Hand of Evil. She liked it, and after a few revisions I will send it off to my agent this afternoon!

It's funny, but now that Right Hand is done, I don't know what to do with myself at home. Editing that book was the driving force of last month, with Young Nostradamus rewrites going on before that. Now I have no pressing at-home project, but I need one!

To clarify, I do all my creative writing outside, and by outside I mean not in my apartment. I get best results if I write longhand in a notebook while enjoying a cup of tea in a cafe somewhere. Then I bring it home to type up, and eventually revise and edit. My creative writing is going very well - I've written eight chapters for The 25 Demons You Meet In Hell. I haven't typed them up yet - maybe that can be my at-home project for this month.

I also want to do more blogging. There are lots of topics I want to write about, many things I want to say. Now I have all the time I want - again. But I'm not letting it get me down. As a followup to my last post, I am feeling a lot more positive than before. I am starting to see better results in my life - for starters, the job was a very positive environment. I know I'm going to get more good results as time goes on.

Another happy note - Violet and I celebrated our 2nd year anniversary on Monday. Two years... it feels like I've known her all my life. I'll spare you the mush, except to say that when we're together, I feel like the luckiest man in the universe.

Say it with me... Awwwwwww!!!

Monday, May 28, 2007

A New Direction For Me

The Toronto Small Press Fair came and went, and so did the Burning Effigy Spring Launch. All in all, a very good weekend. I had fun selling my books and being among my friends.

The sales weren't spectacular, but then I wasn't really expecting they would be. The Small Press Fair was more of a literary affair, with not so many people interested in sci fi comedy. The Launch was more about performance - I got up and read about a chapter's worth from Section K, and that went over very well. Most people in attendance had already bought the book, so the sales I made after that were just gravy.

Now those two big events are over, and Section K is officially part of the published world. The next stop for the book will be Toronto Trek - or Polaris, as it is now called - this July, when I will be launching Epoch. That will be an awesome weekend. I can feel it.

Tomorrow I'm heading back to work, for real this time. I also finished editing The Right Hand of Evil, and am waiting for my wife Violet's review. She's a fast reader, so I will know what she thinks very soon. Then it will be off to my agent, and out into the world. I can't wait!

Life is looking brighter, and I'm feeling much better about the way things are going. I have made a commitment to be more positive, which means no more complaining. That will be a challenge for me - complaining has been a big part of my life, but it has also drawn much into my life to complain about. That hasn't been working for me, so it's time for new tactics.

To my readers, keep an eye on me, and remind me when I slip. I'm not perfect, after all. I will slip and be bummed about things from time to time. My goal here is to keep the bum times to a minimum while maximizing on the things that are great. I hope it makes for some good reading.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Section K Launch

Another chapter to my work saga... I'm off to work this morning. For one day. Yippee. Still, better than a boot to the head.

Then, my weekend will be spent working. Not in the job sense, but in the book sense. This weekend I promote the living heck out of Section K.

First, Saturday is the Toronto Small Press Fair. My editor friend Monica and I have a table there, and we will be selling as many copies as we can. We will also be promoting the Burningeffigy Spring Launch, wherein Section K and three other books (including my good friend Jeff Cottrill's Guilt Pasta) will be launched to the public. For my Toronto friends and readers, that event will be happening at the Victory Cafe Sunday night, starting at 7:30 PM.

In other writing-related news, I am three-quarters of the way through my second draft of The Right Hand of Evil. I'm also well into my next novel, The 25 Demons You Meet In Hell. Work on that one has been slow lately, but that's the way it goes with any writing project. Some days you write so much you can't stop until your arm falls off, and on others you're lucky if you get a sentence or two.

Also, my blog friend Graywave recently wrote about me. To read it, please click on this link.

It's going to be a busy three days, but well worth it in the end. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Curses - Foiled Again!

I came back from the Victoria Day long weekend ready to go back to work, only to find disappointing news on my answering machine. It seems the company didn't have money in their budget for the position they'd offered me, so they had to cancel it. That's it. No other explanation. Sorry, we're idiots who can't count, bad luck for you.

My exile from employment continues. I'm trying not to be down in the dumps about it, as that won't help me. I'd rather take the attitude that when God closes a door he opens a window. However, God closed the employment door two and a half months ago. I can only hope He knows what He's doing.

Imagine if He didn't... that might make an interesting story! Probably a comedy, with a metaphysical twist - exactly the sort of thing I'm best at! See, something good came from my situation already.

'Till next time, everyone!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Back To Work

Yesterday I got the call from my employment agency - I'm going back to work! Finally, after nearly three months, I will finally have an income once more! Ironically, I had just filled out an online form for EI. Taking action really does get the universe's wheels turning!

This new job will be a two to four week assignment with Manulife, a company I've worked for three times in the past. I will be working with a group that works right next to the second-last group I was with at Manulife, who let me go because the manager said I was a "daydreamer" who "couldn't meet the work targets." In your FACE, ex-manager! Sorry, couldn't resist. I am hopeful this will be a good working experience, and will lead to many more good ones over the coming years.

The new job also means that my free time is coming to a close. Not a problem - I'm used to doing my writing around work, and tend to be more productive that way, too. I do want to get a good chunk of editing done on The Right Hand of Evil before I go back (I start next Tuesday, following the Victoria Day weekend). I want to get people reading it by June, and get it off to my agent for July at the latest. Time for me to get cracking.

Later, all!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Ka-Ching!

A couple of weeks ago, my agent told me he'd received a royalty statement and cheque for me from Llewellyn. This statement was for the sales of my first published book, Attack of the Intergalactic Soul Hunters, for the period of July - December '06. When he told me the number of books I'd sold, I couldn't believe it. I was sure it was a mistake, and he'd get back to me saying it was really for another client's book. Not very positive of me, I know. But how else could I explain that I'd sold 812 books?

Yes, 812! Not fantastic numbers at all by anyone's reckoning, but here's the thing... My first royalty statement showed that, in spite of all my hard work promoting the thing, I'd sold barely over 300 copies in three months. That's what a book is supposed to make on its first DAY, my agent told me, not three months. My next statement was even worse - because of the number of returns (copies sent back to the publisher by stores), I now owed Llewellyn money! Well, not exactly - it came off the top of this new royalty statement - but it was still pretty depressing. It looked like Soul Hunters was beyond dead.

And yet, here I am today with the news that 812 copies of the book have sold in the latter half of 2006! That netted me a big fat check for... just under $200 US. Nowhere near enough to pull me out of my current economic slump, but nothing to sneeze at, either. And it shows that all the effort that went into promoting the book is paying off. By my estimation, Attack of the Intergalactic Soul Hunters has sold roughly 1, 000 copies, give or take. Still not great, but proof that I'm not down for the count! And more than enough to improve my mood. I think I'll take that cheque and blow it all on toys. Ha, ha, no really I'll use it to pay this month's cable bill.

Anyone out there who would like to purchase a copy of Soul Hunters can find it easily enough on Amazon.com, or they can use this link right here.

Until next time!

A Spot of Housecleaning

Hello again! I'm back after a week of not knowing what I wanted to write here. I did a little touching up for my blog layout, including some work on the links. I have my bestest blog buddies up top, followed by links that will lead you directly to my books. Someone asked me recently if they could buy Section K on Amazon, and sadly the answer is currently no. However, if you follow the easy-to-use link to the right, you'll find the site where it (and many other fine publications by Burningeffigy Press) can be purchased and ordered online. Or you can use this handy-dandy link here.

It is now just under two months before Epoch will be available to the general public. This makes me very happy and excited, as Epoch is one of my strongest books. I am also in the process of editing my next book, The Right Hand of Evil. I read through it last week, and made a pile of post-it note edit suggestions to myself. This week I'll bash it into better shape, then give it another read-through.

My writing, however, has suffered a bit lately. I am not as excited about my current project as I was about both Epoch and Hand. I suspect my continued unemployment situation has something to do with it - it's bringing my spirits down on all fronts. I need to do something about it to put my mind at ease before my writing routine (and enthusiasm) returns to normal.

So, positive thoughts! I will think them, and please send some my way.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Section K reviewed!

Monica, my friend and editor, just sent me an email telling me Section K has been reviewed by The Literary Word here on blogspot! I read it immediately, and my heart (and ego) swelled. Please go right now and read it. You will find the review here.

Very exciting to see the word getting out about my work. And the fact that it's a positive review doesn't hurt, either!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

My Profile

I've just updated my profile with some more info about me. Mostly, just listing randomly the movies & books I like the most. Enjoy!

I think this is the first time I've posted more than once in one day. It's amazing what unemployment can do for you.

The Time Has Come

It's been quite a week, and it's only half-over. First a potential five-day job gets cancelled, then I had to say goodbye to my cat, The Moosh. It hasn't all been bad news, however. For example, yesterday I finished my rewrite of Young Nostradamus and zipped it off to my agent. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and focusing my mind on the outcome I want - a third publishing contract with Llewellyn!

Now that YN is on its way, the time has come to revisit and rewrite my latest finished manuscript, The Right Hand of Evil. I finished it just under two months ago, and promised myself I would start the editing process in May. I've read many books on writing, my favourites of which are On Writing by Stephen King and The Right To Write by Julia Cameron. Stephen King suggests waiting a good three months before going back to revise a work, so that when you do revisit it the book will not be fresh in your mind. It will be slightly unfamiliar, like the work of someone else, and therefore easier to be a harsh critic. I could have waited three months, but I'm just naturally impatient. Plus, I feel certain that this book is really going to put me on the map. Epoch will do well, and Young Nostradamus will be a decent follow-up, but Hand is the book that will make me a household name. I am certain of it.

Why? I don't want to say just yet, not exactly. I don't like giving away big things too early on in the game. I will say this... as I was rewriting Epoch, I realized there is good potential for it to be controversial. I poke fun at fanatical religious beliefs, describing a family whose idea of a night at the movies involves not popcorn and soda but picket signs and righteous indignation. This gave me a good chuckle, but I thought for sure my editors would want me to cut that for fear of annoying people. Just the opposite - they told me to have at it, really cut loose. I gave them all I could without having the fun-poking take over the story, but it got me thinking - what if, for my next book, I really went for it? What if I picked a subject matter that would really take the controversy up to the next level and beyond?

I came up with an idea. I told my wife about it, told her I would use this idea as the basis for a YA novel. Her response? "Good luck with that." It did seem unlikely anyone would want to touch it, given the premise, but the idea would not leave my head. Thus, in September '06 I started writing, and now I am ready to rewrite. Wish me luck!

And yes, eventually I will reveal what it's all about. Tell you what - I'll spill the beans when I submit it to my agent. Fair enough?

- Timothy Carter

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

In Memory of a Moosh

This one's not going to be writing-related. I had so many subjects to talk about but no time over the last couple of weeks, but now that I have time to post again all I can think about is the absence of my beloved cat.

Her name was Ciramos, pronounced tseer-a-moosh. It is Hungarian for many colours. I always called her The Moosh. Simpler to say. And funnier. The Moosh was my wife Violet's cat, and when we put her down she was 20 years old. For a cat, that's really good. Violet grew up with her, and when we started dating I was introduced to the grumbly ball of fur. I was told she didn't show much affection, so I amazed Violet and her sister by getting her to lick my hand. In the last couple of weeks, I'd got her to lick my nose and face. The Moosh didn't like most strangers, but she took to me very nicely.

In return, I taught her to beg at the dinner table. "Oh no," Violet told me. "She's not interested in people food. Never has been." "Let's just see what she'll do," I replied, holding a piece of chicken in front of The Moosh's face. She gobbled it up, and I gave her another. This one I held just above her head, to see if she'd go for it. She did, standing on her hind legs and snatching it from me. Lately, every time Violet and I sit down for dinner, The Moosh would join us and stare up at us expectantly. Yep, I created a monster, all right.

When Violet and I married, The Moosh stayed with her mother. I would look forward to every visit not only for Violet's mom's great cooking, but also for a chance to see the cat. Then Violet's mom decided she couldn't take care of the cat any longer, and would we be interested? Thus it was that one year ago, The Moosh moved in with us.

She wasn't always our favourite cat. For some reason, The Moosh decided she only wanted to be fed at three times in the day: midnight, 2:00 AM and 4:00 AM. This, as you can well imagine, did not always sit well with us. Also, as arthritis took hold of her back legs, she could no longer crouch down in the litter box, so she'd leave some disgustingly smelly surprises for us on the floor. She couldn't wipe herself, either, and did not appreciate it one bit when I did that for her.

In the fall of 2006 she was diagnosed with kidney failure. She was prescribed pills, a special potassium-rich goop, and prescription food. None of which she liked. Getting her to eat anything became quite the chore. Also, with the continued deterioration of her back legs, she could no longer jump up on the bed. This was a problem, because her favourite sleeping spot was the lower-left corner of the bed, and no other spot would do. From then on, she needed a boost. That became part of the early morning feedings - plunk down food, wait for her to finish, then escort her back to the bedroom and boost her onto the bed. This was the way it had to be; The Moosh would settle for nothing less from her humans.

Yesterday morning, the cat did not want to move at all. This wasn't that much different from her normal daily routine, so Violet and I didn't become concerned until she wet herself on the bed. We tried standing her up, but she collapsed back down. She was simply in too much pain to move. We rushed her to the vet and were given some options, none of which were cheap. Violet and I decided that, even if they could 'fix' her, the quality of her life would no longer be any fun. We made the decision to end her life; as the vet injected the euthanol, I felt her go limp in my hands. Her eyes stayed open; Violet couldn't stand to look at them. The eyes didn't bother me nearly as much as the lifelessness in her upper body where I held her. Violet and I said our goodbyes, and cried for the family member no longer with us.

When we got home, I silently emptied the litter box and food dishes. I called Violet's mother, who assured us we'd done the right thing. While Violet called her sister, I had a chance to reflect on my current circumstances. I've complained in past posts about my lack of employment, but if I'd had a job I would not have been there to help Violet take The Moosh to the vet. Nor would I have been there to support Violet when we got home. Some things do happen for a reason.

Now we begin our life without her. Yesterday I thought for sure I heard her walking up behind me while I was eating dinner (it was beef stew, not something The Moosh would ignore). Each time I look into the bedroom, I expect to see her curled up and passed out on her favourite spot. Last night I slept with no interruptions, no wake-up calls. It's an adjustment; today my wife is at work, and I'm here all alone. I miss her, and wish I could pet her one more time, or feed her one last tidbit from my plate. She was a grumbly girl, but I'm pretty sure she was happy. I know for certain that she was loved.

Sorry for such a downer of a post (and a long one, too). I just wanted to get my thoughts and feelings out, express it in the way I do best. Thank you for reading.

- Timothy Carter

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sometimes You Have To Spoil Yourself

Yesterday I decided, to heck with pinching pennies due to continuing unemployment, I need to treat myself to a movie. I took off for the biggest screen I could find and watched Grindhouse, the Quinten Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez double bill. Loved it! Gory, cheesy fun.

As a writer (indeed, as a creative person), I think it's good to treat yourself to something fun and stimulating on a regular basis. Julia Cameron calls them artist dates in her book, The Artist's Way, and I believe in them. It's like you need to refill your creative gas tanks in order to keep running. After the movie I finished chapter 2 of my new book, The 25 Demons You Meet In Hell, so I know it worked for me.

And anyway, if you have to be unemployed, you might as well enjoy the free time.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Posting

I haven't posted much since my experiment with linking - a successful experiment, I might add. Thanks for the help, Justine! I use my wife's computer for all of my internet needs, because she has Safari and it is the best internet thingie I've used so far. The downside is, when she needs the computer, I can't blog. This last week she's been insanely busy with her school work, so I haven't had the opportunity to post until now. All I'm saying is I'll be light on the posts until her school year is done.

I haven't been idle, however. I've been busily rewriting my novel Young Nostradamus, and I started a new novel that is tentatively titled The 25 Demons You Meet In Hell. Sort of a play on Mitch Albom's title, but it won't be a spoof. I have a plan for it that steers well clear of his story.

That's it for now, true believers. See you soon!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Links

This is a short post to test links. My good blogging friend Justine gave me some instructions on how to do them, so here goes.

People who'd like to check out the website for Epoch should click here.

Let's see if it worked...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Rewrites

I'm currently rewriting one of my more recent finished manuscripts, Young Nostradamus. This one's about a teenager who discovers he's a clone of Nostradamus, created by the US government to help them predict terrorist attacks. I thought it was pretty darned good, but when I sent it to Flux, they rejected it. Too much like the last book, they told me. Plus, do I always have to write about the kid who gets picked on by school bullies?

I do that a lot, I've noticed. I like writing about the picked-on people who become heroes. You could say it's a theme of mine. However, Flux didn't want another one of those stories, and felt it didn't suit the character or the story, anyway. I looked back over the book, and discovered they are right. Some things you just don't see unless someone else points it out to you.

Flux is willing to take another look, provided I make a few changes. My agent has already sent them the first three rewritten chapters, and I'm hard at work revising the rest of it.

Writing is a continuing learning experience, and I'm very lucky to be working with people who are willing to give me the feedback I need to hear.