Thursday, December 30, 2010

My 2010 Ups & Downs

So that was 2010. The year we made contact, according to Arthur C. Clarke. Things didn't exactly turn out the way he envisioned. Or me, for that matter.

Let's look at the positive, shall we? My wife and I survived another year of recession. I was more or less steadily employed for the whole year. I found a drug that is really helping. The French and German rights for Evil? sold, and I got a contract for my next novel, The Cupid War. Plus, I finished the first draft of A Walk-In To Remember, and wrote a number of short stories. And of course, this is the year Violet and I adopted Ron, our second cat. Good times.

On the not-so-positive side, otherwise known as the negative, I suffered a great deal from my mood disorder before I started getting the help I've been needing in the last couple of months. My job, though steady, has brought me to new heights of humiliation on an ongoing basis (the latest insult? One of my teenage supervisors dismissed a complaint of mine with a wave of his hand). And, Evil? has been bombing. Less than five hundred copies sold between January and June, while over a thousand were returned to the publisher for a refund. Career-wise, this is a disaster.

Every year has its ups and downs, and 2010 was no different. I can only hope that 2011 brings a little less struggle and a lot more fun.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Today Is The Day

My Birthday. A day of fun. It's not about aging for me, although that does certainly happen. For me, birthdays have always been a day of celebration. I've got plenty of time to feel old throughout the coming year. Today is about fun with friends and family.

I will see both groups today. I'm meeting my brother and sister for lunch, then I'll meet up with a large group of friends in a pub this evening. Good times will be had. I'm not working tonight, either, which is my present to myself.

I'm 38, with many more years to go. Three cheers for me!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Month


My month.

My Birthday month.

And Christmas is pretty nice, too.

I start this month in pretty good shape. My job is still boring, but I've still got it. The Welbutrin has really helped; my emotional state has more or less stabilized. And, I got some more money from the sale of language rights (German & French) for Epoch and Evil?.

Writing wise, I've been productive. I've written two short stories recently - I'll discuss them in more detail in my other blog. I've reached chapter 18 of my current novel project, a re-imagining for my character Rytis Maxwell. I've also done the first two chapters on a secret project... I'll announce what that is on Worlds Of Tim soon.

Concluding sentences for blog posts always give me trouble. Any suggestions?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Doing Better

The wellbutrin is really working for me. My wife has noticed a big difference, and so have the people at my depression support group. I finally feel more positive, less irritable, and more energetic.

My writing is back on track, too. I've done more in the past two weeks than I have in the last four months. I've written a couple of short stories, which I'll talk more about in my other blog, and I'm getting more done on my current novel project as well.

I'm still stuck doing telephone surveys, but it doesn't feel as bad as it used to. They don't bug me about having my notebooks on my desk (they just don't like puzzles, it seems), so I'm able to write in-between calls. It's still a boring job with uncertain hours and very little respect for employees, but it no longer feels like a prison sentence.

At last, it seems I am getting better. Yay!

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's been a week now since I started on Wellbutrin. While it is still too early to say for certain if it is working, I do feel a bit better than I did last week. The only side effect so far is that it makes me drowsy - the exact opposite of what I'd been told would happen. Medications really do affect everyone differently!

It hasn't affected my writing, for good or ill. I'm still producing at a slow pace, but I certainly haven't stopped. I'm nearly done the next chapter in my update of Rytis Maxwell, and have very nearly reached the climax. I've still got a few more months to go before the first draft will be finished, but I'm sure I will get there.

Work has been very slow this week. One shift was canceled, and the two I've had were only three hour shifts. I'm delighted about not having to spend more time there, but at the same time it means I am earning less money. Things are always slow at the end of each month, but this is the slowest I've seen it in a long time. I need to find a better job soon.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Well, But Rin

These last few months have been a trying, difficult time. My depression has gotten worse, and help has been inconsistent. But not non-existent. I'm seeing a new doctor for it now, and he's prescribed to me a new medication (Wellbutrin) to add on to my current pills. It's only been three days, but I've felt a lot better. At least until yesterday, when I got nailed at work for something stupid (again).

Work has been painful. I hate going, I hate it when I'm asked to stay late (even though it means extra money), and I really hate being called into the office so that some 19-year-old kid can tell me how to do my job. I've now been put "on probation" for not reading the survey scripts verbatim. I would make improvements to the flow of the script, making it sound better while cutting down the length of each question. The basic nature of the survey, and each question, was not changed at all. At least, that's what I thought.

But no. They say each sentence, each word has to be read exactly as it appears on the screen. Which is ridiculous, considering we are expected to improvise to get people to stick with the survey, or to answer their questions. They told me they can't show my surveys to the client, because of the things I've done. So all the surveys I've been doing for this particular client, for the last I don't know how long, have all been deleted. As if I wasn't even there.

The survey job is my only source of income (apart from my writing, but those cheques are few and far between). Nevertheless, I'm probably going to quit very soon. I just can't take any more damage to my mental health right now.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Work Woes

I scored twenty surveys a few days ago, a new personal best for me at work. Two days ago, I scored nineteen. Did anyone at work congratulate me? No. In fact, I got another warning the other day for not saying a couple of words during a survey (you're supposed to read every word VERBATIM), and yesterday I had a 'coaching session' because I'd been off the phone for too long. You have to be dialing consistently, they told me. Of course, the reason I wasn't dialing was because I'd run out of numbers to call, and I couldn't find a supervisor to report that fact to.

And speaking of supervisors, I have had to ask them repeatedly to keep their voices down when I'm on the phone talking to a respondent. The other day I was seated next to the supervisor's desk, and had to ask her to keep her voice down TWICE. The glare I got back could have frozen salt water. They like dishing it out, not taking it.

One of these days I'll be able to look back on this and laugh. And maybe use it for a story. Until then, my suffering for a dollar continues.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Jobs in August

My wife Violet was fired last week from her just-acquired job at a paint store. No reason as given, either. And after she'd helped them move store locations, too. She was hired for her customer service skills and knowledge of paint, and yet she spent the majority of her time lifting heavy things.

And then they fired her.

Just like that.

For no reason.

Needless to say, we're not very happy. Violet is pretty pissed off at them, and understandably so. I'm not too thrilled, either. Once again, I'm back to being the sole provider for the family. It doesn't help that I'm in a minimum wage job with erratic hours - not the sort of income you can depend on. I'd been hoping we could finally get ahead of our financial situation, and maybe treat ourselves to a luxury or two, like a trip to the dentist.

Being poor sucks. It really does.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Another Evil? Review!

And here's another review of Evil?!!! This one is from the blog Dreaming In Books, written by John Jacobson. Check out the review by clicking here.

I'm also doing an interview with John, so check back later to see that posted.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Another Interview & Guest Blog!

I did a guest blog for TRT Book Club, the book club of Teens Read I also answered a whole bunch of interview questions in my own special way. Do check it out here !

Friday, July 30, 2010


I haven't done cat pictures in a long time. I have another cat now, you know... his name is Ron - short for Ronald Weasly. Violet and I adopted him from a friend who named all her pets after characters from Harry Potter. He's a lovely boy, and he's on my lap at this very moment!

Now, on with the pictures!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I have not been keeping my word. It's almost August now, and I haven't even touched on July.

It's been a good month. Better than most. I had a second job thanks to one of my temp agencies, and it lasted six weeks. I was therefore able to cut back on the hours at my phone survey job, which has been good for my mental health. Plus, one of the worst supervisors at that job has quit! Apparently he was upset that none of the other supervisors were trying to be as big of a jerk as he was. It will be easier to work there now that he's gone, but I still need to find something better as soon as I can.

Violet is working now! And as a bonus, it's at a place really close to where we live. It's a paint store, and there's a lot of physical labour involved, but she seems to be liking it. Not as stressful or as boring as her last job.

I attended Polaris, the big sci/fi convention I've been attending for the last few years. That was a blast; you can read all about my experience there on Worlds of Tim.

My writing has remained slow but steady. I've got nine chapters written on a new middle-grade novel, and I'm also well into a new short story in the Section K universe. I'm also contemplating sequels again; I have an idea for an Evil? follow-up, and The Cupid War is just crying out to be a series. And then there's my ideas for Epoch 2. I can see the story in my head; I just don't know if it's what I want to write next.

July's been good. Here's hoping for a great August!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

June Blues

The less said about June, the better.

Well, okay, it wasn't that bad, but as you all have noticed I wasn't able to keep my promise of more frequent blog posts. I've been very busy, and very little of that busyness has been doing things I've enjoyed.

One thing I did enjoy was meeting fellow blogger Farida Dowler. Here's a picture of this epic blogger team-up:

The link to Farida's blog is in my list on the right. Do check it out.

So why am I so miserable? I'm currently working three jobs. That's right, three. Never rains but it pours. I'm still doing the phone surveys, though I've cut back on those hours quite a bit. That got me into trouble - I was given two written warnings for canceling one of my shifts. Apparently, the guy I spoke to didn't like my 'attitude'.

The second job I have came up suddenly from one of my temp agencies. It's a government position, proofreading documents for the Ministry of Health. You'd think that would be a fantastic job for me, but it isn't quite what you think. I'm looking at lists of drugs and drug numbers all day, making sure they are spelled correctly and noting any discrepancies. I'm doing well - they've extended my contract twice now - but it can be dull and hard on the eyes sometimes.

The third job, for those of you that need to be told - is my writing. That hasn't been going so well. Various life stresses have interfered with my output, and I've only been able to put pen to paper every other day. That includes my blogging, when I actually have time to sit in front of a computer. Things have picked up in the last week, however, and I'm feeling more creative again. My feeling is that July will be a lot more productive.

To end on a good note, I had the pleasure of spending Canada Day in Ottawa with my family. I took Violet to Parliament Hill to watch the fireworks - very crowded, but well worth all the trouble. I also got to introduce her to some of my old high school friends. All in all, a great four-day trip, and a positive cap to an otherwise less-than-stellar month.

Monday, May 24, 2010

More On May

May has been a good month for me. Work has been steady, with longer hours but unfortunately longer surveys. Tricky to keep people on the phone for half an hour, but I've been succeeding enough to keep my bosses happy.

My next novel, formerly titled Cupidity, is officially a go. Now titled The Cupid War, it is due next spring from Flux. I'm looking forward to working with their editors over the summer to polish it up.

I've finished the first draft of my latest novel, A Walk-In To Remember. While I am certainly happy with that accomplishment, the book will require a TON of rewriting and editing before it is ready to be shown to the world. Still, the basic story is down, and I know what needs to be done to improve it. If all goes according to plan, it will be a terrific followup to The Five Demons You Meet In Hell.

My writing attention now turns to my 'remake' of Rytis Maxwell. I've written five chapters, and so far it is going very well. I expect it will keep me entertained throughout the summer.

I'm also contemplating a return to Section K. My editor at Burningeffigy, Monica, would like another short story from me, to be turned into another chapbook/promotional tool for the main book. I'm working on an idea featuring the character Johnny Tall and vampires. Because everyone's doing vampires these days.

That's my news for this post. I'm going to try to blog a little more often, and I could use your help, readers! Keep bugging me for new posts! And tell all your friends to bug me, too.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

May Is Here!

It's one of my favourite months, May is. The weather is nicer, going for a walk is more appealing, and the summer movies start playing! I can't wait for Iron Man 2 and The A-Team.

It's also the time of year when I usually receive a royalty statement for the July-December period from the previous year. Before long I'll finally know how EVIL? is doing! I'm sure the statement, when it comes, will bring good news. I've had many promotion opportunities thanks to many wonderful people out there, most of whom I'm proud to call friends. I've got my name out there, and now I need to keep it out!

Work has been steady, if not very lucrative. At the beginning of this year I was working at two market research (telephone survey) companies; I quit one of them, and have received a few more hours from the other. I still have to deal with shifts being cancelled or shortened at the last minute, but at least they seem to like me and the work I do.

My writing has slowed down considerably. I'm still working on A Walk-In To Remember, a novel I started over a year ago. I'm also finding it hard to do revisions. I'm still editing The 5 Demons You Meet In Hell, and have been for the last six months. I need to push myself a bit harder, get the fun back.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ad Astra 2010

Last weekend I attended Ad Astra, and it was a blast. How big of a blast was it? Well, you'll have to head on over to Worlds of Tim to find out!
I've written a thorough report, complete with three photos. Like this one here of me trying to break up a fight between Luke Skywalker and a Stormtrooper. Go check it out!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ad Astra 2010 Today

After a one-year hiatus, I will be returning once more to Ad Astra, one of Toronto's science fiction and fantasy conventions. I will be on three panels, one of which I suggested to them, and I will also be doing a reading and an autograph session! I will also have a table in the dealer's room to sell and promote my books.

Tonight I will take part in the panel, Choosing A Format, a discussion on the various formats of publication (novel, short story, etc) and whether or not an author knows in advance which format will work best for their latest idea.

Tomorrow I will take part in an official autograph session(!), which will be my first at a convention. This puts me a step closer to acceptance in the eyes of the sci/fi convention community. In the evening I'll have two panels, both regarding the Doctor Who universe. The first is about who your favourite Doctor is (there are eleven of them now), and the second is about the five-part Torchwood: Children of Earth special that aired last summer. That's the one I suggested; I thought the special was brilliant, and I look forward to talking about it.

On Sunday morning I will do a reading. Hopefully I'll have a nice crowd of eager book buyers in attendance.

I'll post again soon, hopefully with photos, to let all of you know how it went. I'm excited, as I usually am. Conventions are a lot of fun.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

CUPIDS Due Next Spring!

I have finally heard back from Flux regarding my next book, tentatively titled Cupids. They want it, and we are in the process of negotiating the particulars of the contract. Based on their estimate, it should be released next spring. They are also still considering Young Nostradamus.

I finally understand why they waited so long to get back to me on this(at least, I have an educated guess). Evil? was released in August, and it is only now that the sales figures for the July - December '09 period are known. Most likely they were waiting to see how Evil? did before offering me another book contract. This suggests that Evil? must be doing all right, which is also very good news!

More details will follow once I have them. I'm very excited! My next book is on the way. Yay!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Another Virus Guy? Most Likely

Lately I've been getting a lot of Anonymous comments both on this blog and on Biblical Proportions. Some are bizarre and unreadable, some are complimentary, and some are downright filthy. I'm deleting them as I find them, but in case I miss a couple here and there I'd like to warn my readers not to follow any of their links. I don't know what it might do, and I don't want to risk ruining my wife Violet's computer finding out.

Anonymous Guy, whoever you are, please stop sending me your crap.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Of Sequels And Remakes

I've blogged in the past about doing followups to my current published work. I've been asked about sequels to Epoch and Evil?, and every now and then I've tossed ideas around in my mind. My current project, A Walk-In To Remember, is a sequel to one of my as-yet unpublished novels.

And, I'm planning a major remake. More on that later.

I've actually got a really good idea for an Epoch 2, one which would expand on the first while introducing new elements. It is a story that will stand on its own, but it might also draw new readers to the first book.

So, why am I not writing it yet? That's a bit complicated. Any sequel I write to Epoch, I'm contractually bound to offer to Flux first. That shouldn't be a problem, but I haven't heard from Flux about the last two books I sent them. That was a year ago. My future with them, if you'll pardon the pun, appears to be in flux.

I'm sure there is a good reason for the delay (we are in the middle of a recession, after all), and I hope they are still interested in working with me. However, if the opposite turns out to be true, then an Epoch sequel makes no sense, career-wise. Why should I put in a year's work on a book I'd have to offer them, if they no longer want anything from me? I'd be far better served to put my efforts into a project that isn't bound by any contract, at least until I know what's going on.

These are the type of things you have to think about when you become a published author. It's no longer just about writing whatever I want - there is now a business and career aspect that must come into play with each project.

With that in mind, let's turn to that major remake I mentioned. I want to get back into the Middle-Grade market, and I want to bring one of my favourite characters to light. Before I began work on Attack of the Intergalactic Soul Hunters, I'd already written a series of five short novels about a 10-year-old boy named Rytis Maxwell. He was my antidote to what I saw as the typical kid in a supernaturally-themed children's book. You know, a kid who'd never been involved with the supernatural before suddenly being confronted with ghosts, aliens or something else weird and evil. His parents don't believe him and neither do the authorities, forcing the kid to deal with it on his own.

All well and good, but I decided to have some fun with it. Enter Rytis, who by the age of ten has already dealt with every conceivable form of supernatural evil. He's staked vampires, de-probed aliens busted all kinds of ghosts. And he's sick of it. All he wants is a normal, boring childhood, free from adventure and excitement. And, of course, he doesn't get it.

A fun premise from which to launch a series, which is exactly what I did. Unfortunately, I was still learning my craft when I began Rytis' adventures. The first story was nice, and very, very funny (if I do say so myself, and I did). However, I now see it is too short, and not as epic as it needs to be. I love Rytis - he's one of my favourite characters, and writing him has always brought me joy. The only way the rest of the world is going to get to know and love him, I feel, is if I give that series of mine a major overhaul. Again, a business decision.

So that's my next big project - a new (and much better) first adventure for my hero. And possibly Epoch 2, depending on how things go. And of course there's my current project, A Walk-In To Remember.

At least I'm not stuck for ideas!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fighting The Block

I do, from time to time, face the condition known as writer's block. I don't like to admit this - I've always thought, in my naive and innocent way, that it would never happen to me. I receive a near-constant flow of ideas for stories, so that isn't the problem. All the ideas in the universe can't help me when the writing itself dries up.

Sometimes I just don't feel like it. Sometimes I'm stuck for something to write. I'll have ideas, but which ones do I commit myself to? Writing a novel can be a daunting prospect - you need enthusiasm to get you through to the end. Worrying about whether I'll have that enthusiasm can kill a project before it begins.

The time between finishing a novel and starting a new one is always a hard time for me. My wife, Violet, is used to it now, and she always assures me it will pass. And she's right, bless her. It always does. However, that knowledge does me little good while I'm in the thick of it.

I can also get blocked in the middle of a project. I'll lose some of that valuable enthusiasm, and the writing starts to feel like work. Or I'll get an idea for an even better project, a story so exciting I can't wait to tell it, and the current project starts to look kind of lame in comparison. I'll try to rush myself, to just get this current novel done and over with so I can move on to the better one. Or, I'll toss the current book out (or put it on hold) while I launch into the new, more exciting project. Many writers I know would caution against this. Indeed, for me it's had mixed results. The writing block will be broken and I'll get several chapters into the new project, only to have the same thing happen. And then the old project will start to look really good again. And I'll start to do them both at the same time.

I'm not necessarily saying that jumping between stories is a bad thing. My last three novel projects came together this way, after all. I've found I can pick up from where I left off with no trouble at all, especially if I believe in the story. However, I have found that an awful lot of editing is required to make the first part match up with the second.

Sometimes, the block can come because of outside pressures. A bad job is a creativity killer if you aren't careful. Bad news also puts a dent into creativity. I was halfway through the third Soul Hunters novel when I found out my publisher wasn't interested in picking up the second one. That basically knocked the wind out of Soul Hunter 3's sails - I haven't touched it since.

One way I combat the dreaded block is to launch a bunch of little projects (for example, this very post). That usually stirs up the creative juices, and gets me rolling on my main project again. It doesn't always work, however; in some cases I'll get a bit done on each small project, only to end up blocked on all of them! Usually I'm able to get moving on one eventually, and then the others follow.

Currently, I'm three-quarters of the way through my current novel, A Walk-In To Remember. Things have slowed down considerably; financial pressures are worrying away at me, along with a few professional ones. I've launched a number of smaller blog-post projects (like this one, and a few more reviews over on Biblical Proportions), and several ideas for much more exciting novels are bubbling away in my mind.

But am I worried? Well... kinda, yeah. I'll see it through, however. I always do. After all, I got this thing done, didn't I?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

More Great News For Me!

I received a very special bit of news from the publicity department at Flux yesterday! Please head over to Worlds of Tim to see what that exciting bit of news is.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

2010 Has Begun

By the time I think of something to do a blog post about, I realize that way too much time has passed. Here I am, back from the netherworld bloggers seem to be in when they aren't posting regularly, to update on the life that is mine.

Many things are the same. I'm still waiting to hear on the fate of two of my books. In fact, it was just about this time last year that those same two books were submitted. If any of you writers out there think that the wait-times for a response from a publisher go down after you've been published (and have an agent), think again. It's humbling, realizing just how disposable you are.

The same is true of my current job. I usually work six hours every weekday evening and another six on Saturday afternoons doing telephone surveys. However, due to bad luck in the business world, those hours have been cut back severely. For the time being, it will be three and a half hours Monday to Thursday, with no Friday or Saturday shifts. Just when I thought my financial situation was about to get better.

All is not lost - I finally got the second payment for the German rights to Epoch. That was a nice little sum. More will be coming for the rights to Evil?, but I imagine I'll have to wait a bit to see that. I still don't know if Evil? is a success. It seems like it is - I've had a lot of feedback, blog reviews and even interviews this time around - but I won't know for sure until I see the royalty statement.

I'm currently on Chapter 22 of my current novel, A Walk-In To Remember. It's a sequel to The Five Demons You Meet In Hell, which I am currently editing. I'm hopeful I'll have a draft ready to show my agent by early February.

Karma continues to be a source of joy. He's grown more affectionate, but no less curious of the world around him. He's also developed a worrying addiction to cat treats (no surprise there). As a matter of fact, he's due for his next fix. Excuse me...