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


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!!!