Eerie Edmonton

I just got the signed contract back from Dundurn Publishing, so it is official! Eerie Edmonton is a go!

While I was working on Haunted Hospitals I met up with Rona and Ben of The Paranormal Explorers here in Edmonton to talk about their investigation of the Charles Camsell Hospital. I was straight-up with Rona and Ben from the start, letting them know that I’m pretty skeptical when it comes to paranormal phenomena but if they were willing to accept that I was willing to accept that they believed everything they were telling me. It worked out really well. I got some great stories for the book and I enjoyed the time I spent with them.

So, when Dundurn invited me to pitch them a new book after Haunted Hospitals came out, I pitched to Rona first. “Why don’t we team up and write a book about haunted locations in Edmonton? You’ll come to it from the point of view of a believer, I’ll come to it from the point of view of a skeptic (but one who likes a good creepy story) and we’ll meet in the middle?” She agreed.

Even better? Rona shares my interest in local history so after we’ve investigated the haunted locales around the city, we’re going to research them to see if what Rona sees and experiences matches up with actual historical events.

I’m going to do all the writing, Rona will lead the investigations, and we’ll work together on research.

It’s gonna be awesome 🙂

Oh, and you can be a part of it! If you have seen or experienced something spooky that you can’t explain here in Edmonton, please use the form below to get in touch with me. I’d love to hear your story and maybe investigate the location where it takes place with Rona.

Using this form will give me access to your email address and I may reply to you at that email address. Your story, name or identifying information will not be used in the book without your permission. I promise.

So. Exciting!

Candas as Mentor

We recently celebrated the release of Prairie Starport: Stories in Celebration of Candas Jane Dorsey but some of the contributors wanted to do something a bit more. And so for the next few Fridays my blog is going to feature more stories about Candas and the anthology in the form of guest posts for a mini blog series I’m calling:

Candas as Mentor

“I referred to someone as my mentor for the first time the other day. I thought you should know, since I was talking about you.”

I told Candas that as we were sitting in her car outside my house. We’d just come from having sushi and were, to paraphrase Candas, stuffed full as snakes. It was wintertime but the sunlight coming through the windshield warmed the car to a comfortable level. I was not comfortable, however, I was nervous.

It’s weird the weight that the word ‘mentor’ can carry.

I met Candas when I took one of her workshops. I went into it not knowing anything about her at all–I’d signed up primarily to buy myself some deadlines to get some writing done, any feedback I got in addition to that would just be a nice bonus.

Well, I got a lot more than I bargained for.

At that time I was in the midst of putting together a Niteblade anthology (I think it was Nothing to Dread) and I had questions. Questions I thought Candas might be able to answer. So during the breaks in our class I would follow her to the hot chocolate machine and pick her brain. And I found that in addition to knowing things I wanted to learn from her, I also liked her.

So, once the workshop was done I asked if I could take her out for sushi. And a friendship was born.

By the time we were sitting in her car and I was shyly confessing to referring to her as my mentor, Candas and I had been friends for a few years which made it feel a bit weird, like I was saying, “Hey, I know we started out as student and teacher, and then evolved into friends but, uh, I still feel like we’ve got a student/teacher thing goin’ on here…”

In retrospect my shyness was ridiculous, not only because I know that relationships are complicated and layered and stuff… but also because teaching isn’t just a thing Candas does, it’s a big part who she is (in my defense I’ve got a pretty big ego and there’s a certain amount of repression of that ego which comes along with acknowledging someone else as your mentor LoL).

Over the years Candas has taught me things. Here are just a few of them:

  • Get the words on the page however you need to get the words on the page. If your usual system isn’t working change it.
    • My first drafts are usually written long hand and then I do my first editing pass as I’m typing them up on the computer. One day, Candas and I went for lunch and I was complaining about how stuck I was. I had the ideas, I knew the story, but trying to get the words on the page was worse than pulling teeth. Candas asked me about how I wrote my first drafts, I told her and she said, “After lunch we’re going to get you a new pen.” We finished eating and hit up the store for a new pen. It sounds ridiculous, but it worked. I was so excited to use my new pen that I broke through my paralysis and got the words on the freaking page. Sometimes even the smallest changes can have a huge result.

 

  • When editing, or critiquing, you need to consider intent.
    • After the workshop Candas ran where I first met her, she taught another, slightly more advanced, class. I signed up. As part of the course each participant was expected to critique every other participant’s work. I was struggling with one submission in particular. I kept trying and trying to come up with some encouraging, constructive feedback, but no matter how many times I read it I just couldn’t find anything that worked about it. Finally, in desperation, I emailed Candas and was like, “What do I do? It’s just so bad…” I could hear her smile in her email when she replied and said, “Read it again and look for her intention. What was she trying to do when she wrote this?” That helped. Not just in that critique, but any time I come across a story I’m really struggling to critique or edit.

 

  • It’s all about doggy dominance.
    • One of Candas’ dogs was a timid little thing. In an attempt to socialize him, whenever I went to visit she had me spend time with him, and we had a lot of conversations about doggy dominance, and (basically) faking it until you make it. When I was writing my very first ever anthology pitch I showed it to Candas. She took her red pen to it, crossing out all the places I was the least bit hesitant or tentative and wrote ‘Doggy dominance’ across the page. I’ve never forgotten that and now anthologies are kind my thing. Who’s to say how much of that has to do with doggy dominance?

 

I could get into all the things I’ve learned about writing from Candas too… but that’s a whole blog post of it’s own. Maybe next time 😉

 

 

Download it for free at:
BookFunnel
Kobo
Playster
Apple

Also available at Amazon

Paperback available at Amazon:
.com
.co.uk

And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

All profits from this collection will be donated to the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society in Candas’ name.

 

 

Candas as Role Model

We recently celebrated the release of Prairie Starport: Stories in Celebration of Candas Jane Dorsey but some of the contributors wanted to do something a bit more. And so for the next few Fridays my blog is going to feature more stories about Candas and the anthology in the form of guest posts for a mini blog series I’m calling:

More about Candas Jane Dorsey and Prairie Starport

Candas as Role Model

By Robert Runté

I confess when I was younger, I found Candas a somewhat intimidating figure.

She was, after all, courageously following her bliss to live the life of a writer; whereas I had cowardly chosen employment for which one might actually get paid. I greatly envied her freedom and personal fulfilment, as I toiled 9 to 5 in my government job.

I was astonished by her ability to sit down and write without angst, to produce in twenty minutes a document that would have taken me all day, had I been able to manage the task at all. She was and remains a model of efficiency and effective writing, concise and on target in every instance.

I greatly admired her intuitive leadership skills, among which was the ability to move others to action: anyone who fell into her orbit was likely to discover they had somehow volunteered to sit on Boards, or to organize readings, or to make cold calls for some cause, or to otherwise be doing things they would not, in the normal course of events, have thought of doing.

I was somewhat overawed at her weekly salons in which the artistic elite of Edmonton, and frequently the literary greats from beyond, would sit around her living room debating the nature of writing, the cost of tomatoes, and similar eternal verities. It was sobering to discover that writers were real, that there were more of them about than one would have imagined, and that one did not have to travel to Toronto or New York to meet them.

And, being somewhat socially awkward, I was frequently thankful for her frank advice on a variety of topics concerning how one should move through the world, such as pointing out on one memorable occasion, that my attempts not to disrupt the proceedings had been far more disruptive than the initial disruption.

So.

It is possible that on occasion I allowed my better judgement to be overwhelmed by Candas’ unassuming charisma.

I recall one afternoon attending at her house and, having no response to the doorbell, took the initiative of going round the back to intrude upon the privacy of her garden. I found her sitting next the flower bed examining a bloom with flat, but colorful petals.

“Here, eat this,” Candas said, handing me the flower.

Internally, I dithered. On the one hand, this was well before my culinary horizons had expanded much beyond burgers, and food prejudices being among the most strongly held, I did not wish to eat a flower. On the other hand, I did not wish to appear unsophisticated, and I considered carefully that there was no logical reason not to eat the offering. After all, Candas was hardly going to hand me a dangerous herb or one which she did not routinely consume herself. As in so many other cases, I should follow her lead to experience new things and benefit from our fellowship. And, knowing Candas’ powers of persuasion, I recognized that I was going to eat the flower in the end, and the only real question was whether I would do so after my usual whimpering hesitation, or man up and eat the damn thing as if that were a perfectly natural thing to do.

I stuffed it in my mouth and chewed, hopefully before my hesitation was detected.

Candas watched me carefully. I refused to allow any of my consternation to show on my face.

“Well?” Candas asked.

“What kind of flower was it?” I inquired, once I had swallowed.

She named the variety, though in truth the knowing of it made me none the wiser.

“So?” Candas asked. “What does it taste like?”

“What?”

“Well, I’ve always wondered what they tasted like, but I could never quite bring myself to eat one.”

“What!”

“Would you describe the flavour as ‘delicate’? It’s for a scene I’m writing.”

I like to believe that this was an important turning point in my maturity. As with so many other occasions, Candas had introduced me to an important concept, in this case something about not giving into peer pressure, especially when the pressure was entirely in my own head.

Candas, of course, has always been mystified by any suggestion she is intimidating. She considers herself perfectly normal. Which, considering her accomplishments, is a pretty intimidating standard against which to be held.

 

 

Download it for free at:
BookFunnel
Kobo
Playster
Apple

Also available at Amazon

Paperback available at Amazon:
.com
.co.uk

And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

All profits from this collection will be donated to the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society in Candas’ name.

E is for Evil

E is for Evil is out today!

I love this anthology series, and this might be my favourite of them all so far. I mean, usually the newest book is my favourite, but I think this one would be my favourite even if it wasn’t the newest one? Maybe. It’s tough to say, I suppose. But other people have liked it too!

“E is for Evil is a fun, quirky, and thoroughly entertaining anthology which is sure to have something for every type of reader. It is absolutely worth the time for anyone who enjoys imaginative and thought-provoking literature.”

-Brad OH Inc.

“No two stories are the same. If you love horror… or you want to experience horror on a level that is beyond guts and gore (though it has some of that too) I highly recommend trying this anthology.”

-Melodie, Goodreads reviewer

 

Get your copy now!

Ebooks:

US — https://amzn.to/2Kc5nIP
Canada — https://amzn.to/2HWFqvT
UK — https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07B4QPDQ1

Paperback:

Amazon — https://amzn.to/2L1fmBf

Free on Kindle Unlimited

Prairie Starport

Prairie Starport: Stories in Celebration of Candas Jane Dorsey

I wanted to to do something to honour Candas Jane Dorsey, because she has done so very much to help me and countless other people. And not just writers or editors or publishers. No. Though she does that as well, Candas doesn’t limit herself to working to benefit people in the publishing industry, she has dedicated her life to helping people. Period.

That deserves recognition.

In fact, it deserves more recognition than I have the power to give, but I wanted to contribute what I could. As did all the authors and artists who contributed to creating Prairie Starport. Though my name is on the cover as the person who put all these things together I could not have done anything without the support and contributions of tonnes of other people — including, of course, my fellow contributors.

This collection contains work by Timothy J. Anderson, Greg Bechtel, Eileen Bell, Gregg Chamberlain, Alexandrea Flynn and Annalise Glinker, Barb Galler-Smith, Anita Jenkins, Laina Kelly, Derryl Murphy, John Park, Rhonda Parrish, Ursula Pflug, Robert Runté, Diane L. Walton, BD Wilson and S.G. Wong.

My contribution is “Sister Margaret” which is a short story about a vampire hunter and a half-incubus swordsman trying to save prostitutes from a vampiric pimp. I wrote it a looong time ago but it still remains one of my favourites.

And because my goal with this anthology is to show appreciation for and celebrate Candas, not to turn a profit, I am giving the electronic version away for free.

 

Download it for free at:
BookFunnel
Kobo
Playster
Apple
More coming soon!

Also available at Amazon

Paperback available at Amazon:
.com
.co.uk

And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

All profits from this collection will be donated to the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society in Candas’ name.

 

(In case you’re curious, yes, I could have used the word contribute in its various forms more if I’d tried. I really could have :-p )

 

One of the stories was accompanied by art. Since the interior only allowed for black and white art, we also included the piece on the back cover so that it could be displayed in colour… albeit with a text overlay.