September 12, 2017
Have I really been doing this for seven years? Yes, and with no apparent end in sight. Thank gods for that!
The other day, I watched a brilliant little HBO doc called IF YOU’RE NOT IN THE OBIT, EAT BREAKFAST. Conceived and executed by the venerable Carl Reiner with producing support from the relatively ‘youngish’ Jerry Seinfeld, EAT BREAKFAST focuses on lives living well by persons aged 90 and over. Humor, Reiner stresses, is a key ingredient to keeping on track and out of the doldrums. There is more to life than merely “showing up”. Plans must be made, and the things we love to do should be pursued with the same vigor we held near and dear in our twenties (even if it means modifying some behaviors and, perhaps, taking a little longer to get the deed–whatever it may be–done).
And so it is with writing. For me, it’s something akin to sudoku, keeping the wheels greased and the chasis moving in a forward direction.
I’ve learned a lot over the years about the craft, including the especial need to recognize that the learning never stops. Stay alert. Keep your eyes open. And never pass up on an opportunity to eavesdrop on some really good dialogue. (Lawyers at hockey games beware!)
In the next few months, I’ll be talking a lot about SHELL GAME, the third novel in my unapologetic lives series. This time, we move away from the funeral scene into a pastoral community with a lot to hide. Sex, intrigue, ‘high’ politics, and really, really bad architecture will figure prominently, as will it’s star Carlos the Wonder Cat.
July 31, 2016
SCOOTER NATION is out and with it comes cover reveals, book trailers and my fave, the Q & A’s. So far, I have taped my first ever cable show with the amazing Jules Carlysle. TELLING STORIES on Rogers TV highlights authors from Durham Region right here in Ontario in a relaxed and informal setting. There is no release date as yet, but readers will be the first to know…that is, after my mom.
I also had some back to back excitement with my first ever author to audience speaking engagement before the Sister’s In Crime, Toronto Chapter, back in April. For ninety minutes, I shared stories about life and death inside the funeral industry from the POV of yours truly, funeral director at large. The audience regaled me with thought provoking questions and for those I was truly appreciative. Such a wonderful group, the members welcomed me and I have become a member too!
On the heels of SinC, I was interviewed by Steve Cronin for a feature piece on my life and work in AMERICAN FUNERAL DIRECTOR magazine. Under the banner STORYTELLERS OF FUNERAL SERVICE, I, along with two other colleagues, shared experiences as both director and writer and of how we reconcile both. The piece, which appeared in the June 2016 issue will be reproduced here at a later date.
SCOOTER NATION, of course, would not have a life outside of my own backyard without the help of author friends here in North America and across the oceans in England, Australia, India, South Africa and more. Five months after its release, it continues to get its day with cool questions and spotlight features. Thank you one and all in for your support and encouragement.
Hard at work on my third effort, SHELL GAME, I look forward somewhat optimistically at having a completed manuscript by summer’s end. Never one to place bets, I maintain a cautious optimism owing to the fact that a books isn’t done until the bossy characters say so…and, wow, are these ones every bossy!
Love to all, will talk soon!
January 27, 2016
On March 23, 2010, I began a fiction piece in a loose leaf note book. Written out in long hand (remember cursive?) and in pencil, it contained random musings, observations and invented conversations meant for an audience of one. Three volumes later, I had what appeared to be an outline. Five years and five drafts later, I had a novel, graciously picked up by Solstice Publishing out of Farmington, Missouri and set for release April 23, 2015.
Exciting times followed as I leapt boots first into the frenetic activity that quickly becomes marketing and self-promotion. A little shaky at first, I was hard pressed to go against everything I was taught, namely to keep individual accomplishments to myself and let actions speak instead of words.
A couple of media interviews and a few guest blogs later, I started to get the hang of things. In faster than light procession, I produced four promo videos with my own hands and opened up author pages on Goodreads.com and Amazon.com. What really excited me was the Book Tour that ran from April 20 though to the end of May courtesy of Bewitching Book Tours. During that time, I penned a number of blogs and provided answers to pages and pages of interview questions. This involved taking myself apart and then reassembling so that my motivations for Heuer and writing in general could be clarified.
It was a daunting task.
Now, nine months later, I find myself with the incredibly joyous task of preparing my sophomore release SCOOTER NATION again with Solstice Publishing. Who better to carry the tale of Weibigand Brothers’ Funeral Home forward?
Occurring two years after HEUER LOST AND FOUND, SCOOTER NATION is a contemporary adult fiction work written in GONZO fashion in homage to the late great Hunter S. Thompson. A cautionary tale, SCOOTER centers on adults careening out of control without aid of moral compass. Characters say and do the things we cannot do in a modern, civilized society. Among the wreckage this behavior leaves, the protagonists find reconciliation, respect and dignity, not just for themselves, but for their fellow humans.
SCOOTER is due out March 13, 2016. In the run up to release day, there will be book trailers aplenty as well as interviews and excerpts.
Excited, thrilled, exhausted, I keep chugging. There’s a lot more to say and a few more books to say them in.
A fellow scribbler recently asked if I’d thought about working in other genres and I had to take a moment before answering. After a couple of slugs of coffee, here’s what I said: Anything’s possible, but do YOU consciously sit down and say ‘I’m going to write a romance today’?
It’s true that we have an idea what we are about on the page after a few false starts and a meme or two. But if you’re like me, you give your characters a wide berth and let them do the driving.
The tale of halting mortician Enid Krause and her charge, the badly decomposed Jurgen Heuer (read ‘Heuer’ as in ‘lawyer’) for me was a platform from which to launch some stories about what it’s like to be a funeral director in the space of a few precious days. The minutae, the stuff we as directors take for granted, like getting the flowers from visitation suite to church to grave without the family and mourners seeing us do it, became a subject of intense interest for some readers. The fact that the work was so physical, along with the long hours often spent waiting for something to happen seemed to be a jump point for discussion as well.
That HEUER went from conversation piece about an atypical job to an award winner under the HORROR category in this year’s PREDITORS & EDITORS reader poll did not surprise readers, but it did surprise me in the best possible way.
HEUER LOST AND FOUND is many things to me: it is a platform from which to rhapsodize about things near and dear, but it’s also a staging point for exploring complicated grief, guilt, addiction, false love, false starts, and, yes, embalming while under the influence of all of the above. Most exciting to me, was that I was able to present difficult and often horrific subjects under the umbrella of gonzo fiction; that is to say: by making the tough accessible through humor.
I like to thank my publisher Summer Solstice, a line division of Solstice Publishing, for believing in what I was trying to do. Solstice gave me the courage to press on through the hard slog that is editing and promoting. Most importantly, they gave me what I needed to keep creating NEW WORK. Thank you Melissa Miller, Kate M. Collins and K.C. Sprayberry for keeping me on task.
The PREDITORS & EDITORS Reader’s Poll is my first award and as such my most precious, not just for the validation it gives me personally (shades of Sally Field at the Oscars back in 1985 dogged me, but only for a moment) but for the acknowledgement that the book and characters are MORE than they appear. What seemed incredibly funny to some, mortified others and vice versa. Tissue boxes, I’m told, were reached for in the closing chapters, while others cheered for Heuer, a “strange and complicated” character, to succeed in spite of his sometimes odious behavior.
Will I try another genre? Most probably, but only if the characters allow me to do so. If HEUER LOST AND FOUND has taught me anything, it’s that everything is subjective at all times.
Thank you one and all for your tremendous support on the journey. I am incredibly grateful.
Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant,