Latest From The Blog

Buy A Signed Book To Support Fort Mac

Kickstarter Backer and soon-to-be-published author Ron Norman sent me this beautiful pic of his book. I use it everywhere now.

Kickstarter backer and soon-to-be-published author Ron Norman sent me this beautiful pic of his book. You can get your own signed copy, typewriter not included, and support Canadians who need your help.

Quick link to the eBay listing.

A year ago, I was running a Kickstarter to fund the Winterwakers omnibus paperback. Thanks to the contributions of many generous people, the project was funded, the paperbacks went to press, and the books were shipped to their new homes.

When I did the print run for the Kickstarter, I ordered a few extra “in case something goes wrong” copies of the book. I didn’t end up needing any of them; they were left in the closet, still in their shipping box, untouched.

Fast forward to the present: while packing my office in preparation for our big move this summer, I came across the books and said “dammit, I don’t want to pack these.” And then the small part of my brain that has good ideas said “I bet there are people who would like a copy. Maybe … I should give them a chance to get one? And maybe I could sign them???”

A few days later, news of the Fort McMurray forest fire broke. It’s likely one of the worst natural disasters in Canadian history: tens of thousands evacuated, entire neighborhoods destroyed … it’s a nightmare. It’s been two weeks, and the people of Fort Mac are still unable to return home, assuming they even have a home to return to.

You can probably see where this is going. I want to help the people of Fort Mac, and give you an opportunity to get one of the last remaining Kickstarter Edition paperbacks of Winterwakers.

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5 Software Development Skills That Make Me A Better Writer

It’s no secret that I don’t earn much money from book sales. The bulk of my income comes from my day job: I’m a software developer for a big Canadian health care organization. If you’ve been in a hospital in British Columbia in the past eight years or so, there’s a good chance your doctor used the app I work on.

I don’t talk about my software job much, mainly because it’s not that interesting from the outside looking in. Still, I’m glad to be doing it. It’s challenging without being overly stressful, the people I work with are great, the pay is good by almost any standard, and it leaves me with just enough free time to bash out a book every year.

The importance of a good day job was recently highlighted by Robert Jackson Bennett, a talented, award-winning author who also works a nine-to-five. In particular, Robert suggests you need a steady day job while you’re building your backlist. I agree — in fact, I’ll go one step further and say a good day job might even teach you how to be a better writer.

Looking back on Winterwakers, I notice that a lot of the things I did right involved skills I acquired from the software biz. I’ve compiled (nerd pun intended) the most important ones here. Some are quite obvious, but some may surprise you. Continue Reading

Permission To Screw Up

Every month of 2016, I’m focusing on a different area of self-improvement. My goal is to tackle various aspects of my physical and mental health, with the end result of becoming a stronger, more capable person. I’ve decided to blog these challenges in case anyone else is inspired by them. This post explains what I’m working on in January.

I’m my own worst critic, and it’s making me miserable.

I’m very hard on myself. In my mind, no matter what I do, or how successful I become at anything, I’m only as good as my mistakes. And no mistake is too small to escape my self-scrutiny or self-punishment. This is terrible for me in many ways, and I want to stop doing it.

“Isn’t being hard on yourself a bit of a positive quality, though? Doesn’t it make you self-motivated? Doesn’t it make you do better work, and be a better person?”

That’s what I used to believe, because I had confused being hard on myself with perfectionism/attention to detail. In truth, I am a perfectionist, but instead of applying that trait productively I use my perfectionism as an excuse to be shitty to myself.

It’s easiest to explain this by example: Continue Reading

So Chill Media

Look out, Internet: I’m trying something new with social media! Clicks! Engagement! Brand identity!


Eugh … Sorry about that.

Anyway, the main change you will see is the introduction of my Tumblr into the regular rotation. I’ve had a Tumblr for a few years, but I’ve never really figured out what to do with it. Is it a blog? Is it another Twitter? I’m still not entirely sure I get what it’s for, but I do know people love it. More to the point, I think I’ve finally figured out how I will use it. Continue Reading

The Addictive Allure of Outrage

Admit it: you love getting mad.

It’s okay. We all do to some degree. The adrenaline surge from a perceived threat is a primitive, powerful high. Responding to that threat with primal outrage is a marvelous release of tension. We’re designed to get excited by conflict, even if it frightens us sometimes.

When someone is wrong on the Internet, we feel that surge. And when we hit the reply button and vent our outrage, we feel satisfied. We’ve identified a threat and fought against it. We’ve done something good and righteous.

And when someone we like gets outraged, we join in. Combat is a team sport, after all, and we all want to reap the spoils of victory. But when it’s one of our allies who’s attacked, we take up arms and repel the invaders. We must protect our tribe at all costs.

An eye for an eye until we’re all blind.

I’m a fan of stand-up comedy. It’s one of the purest forms of creative expression that exists. As someone fascinated by stand-up, I enjoy reading interviews and articles where comedians talk about their craft. One central topic that keeps coming up is how much the game has changed for them in the social media era. Before Twitter and smartphones existed, comedians would go to the clubs and deliver their fresh material to a small crowd — essentially a beta test for new jokes. Some jokes would work, others would not. The jokes that got laughs stayed in the act, the rest were cut and never heard again. There was an implicit understanding between the comedian and the club audiences that this was a proving ground, and that mistakes would happen from time to time. To err is human, and when a real, live human is standing in front of you performing a labor of love, it’s only natural to cut them a bit of slack. Continue Reading