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.

Magical Menageries Colouring Book

The Magical Menageries Colouring Book is finally here! Yay!

Check it out:

The book comes in two formats — digital or physical.

If you’d like to pick up a physical copy that’s available at Amazon. I priced the physical version as low as they would let me ($4.99 in the US) because my goal isn’t to make money off these, but to get them into the hands of as many people as I can.

To that end, I’ve made the electronic version free.

You can download it here –> https://dl.bookfunnel.com/lb08c47c3s

I’d appreciate it if you’d consider subscribing to my mailing list when you download it, but it’s not required.

I strongly suggest downloading the .pdf version for easy printing. I only put the .ePub and .mobi versions up there to make BookFunnel happy. They will not be as easy to print as the .pdf

Thank you, and enjoy!

The Grandmother Paradox

The Grandmother Paradox is the sequel to The Continuum. I’ve have the pleasure of editing both of these books and today I get to reveal the cover for the latest one 🙂

Voila!

When Dr. Wells, the head of the Place in Time Travel Agency, learns that someone’s trying to track down the ancestors of his star employee, there are few people he can turn to without revealing her secrets. But who better to jump down the timeline and rescue Elise from being snuffed out of existence generations before she’s born than the very person whose life she saved a hundred years in the future?

But Juliette Argent isn’t an easy woman to protect. The assistant to a traveling magician, she’s bold, fearless, and has a fascination with time travel, of all things. Can the former secret agent Chandler, with his knowledge of what’s to come, keep her safe from harm and keep his purpose there a secret? Or will his presence there only entangle the timeline more?

Though this book stands alone, it’s probably more fun if you’ve read The Continuum first. Both are super speedy reads that you’ll probably devour in one sitting. The first is available now, and The Grandmother Paradox is available for pre-order. Reserve your copy now and be among the first people to read it when it comes out in July 🙂

My Most Favouritest Swag Evar

If you follow me on social media you know I have been ridiculously excited about the swag I ordered to go along with Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinn. I am so ridiculously excited about it, and now it’s here! I should probably keep it under wraps until pre-orders for Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinn become available (because in the absence of that there’s no real ‘call to action’ in this post)… but I just can’t. I have to show them off.

I got the best swag ever to promote this book!! Check it out:

All. The. Dice!!

What are you looking at?

I got custom dice!!

So here is the short-term thing: the book is Demons, DRAGONS and Djinn so I was thinking about Dungeons and Dragons (which I play) and how could I tie that into promotion for the book and then I was like — dice!I love dice.

So, to make a long story short, I commissioned and ordered custom-made six-sided dice. They are red and black with gold pips and where the 6 would normally be is a dragon face and a teeny tiny little ‘RP’.

Sorry about the blurry cellphone photos... I tried really hard to focus but my phone just wasn't havin' it.

All the anthology’s contributors get one, and I’ll also be giving them away with pre-orders and stuff. It’s gonna be awesome! (Just as soon as I figure out the best way to mail them LOL)

Here is the long-term thing: I’ve long looked for some sort of swag that I could do for each of my books that people might actually want to collect (some people do trading cards, which is awesome, but not appropriate for me). Dice are going to be that thing. Moving forward I’ll be producing a die for each of my titles and slowly acquiring them for my backlist, too. Each will be a different colour/pip combination and have a different, appropriate, icon in the place of the highest number but each will also have the tiny little ‘RP’ in the corner. Just so you can tell they are part of the set and not just a really cool die.

And that is one of the reasons I’m so ridiculously stoked about this.

And boy am I stoked 🙂

If you want a die keep an eye on my blog, social media and/or mailing list as we move toward Fire‘s summer launch. I’ll definitely keep you looped in 🙂

Magical Menageries Colouring Contest Winners!

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the fact that my job is basically to make a whole bunch of decisions astounds me because sometimes I can be the least decisive person in the universe.

This is one of those times.

I could not pick a winner for the colouring contest. I tried. I really did. But I couldn’t do it.

Luckily for me books tend to have both a front AND a back cover.

So I picked two winners!

Congratulations to Treena who coloured this amazing scarecrow:

and Brandy who coloured this lovely flowery fae:

Thank you to everyone who entered!

The proofs of the book are done and just as soon as I get a chance to check out a physical copy (images are trickier than words to format, dudes) I will release them. Soon. Very soon…

Starry Night and Agency

There was a story I wanted to tell. It was about a drug-addicted stripper in post-apocalyptic Edmonton and the dealer who wanted to save her and through her himself (or at least assuage his guilt). It’s not really a long story, or a complicated story but it took me a very long time and a lot of thought to figure out how to tell it.

I tried telling it from her point of view. I tried telling it from his point of view. I tried using an omniscient narrator. I tried 2nd person point of view (oh yes I did!). I tried starting before the apocalypse. I tried starting at the end and working backward…

You get the idea.

No matter what I did it was a struggle. And the biggest reason it was a struggle was because I was pretty sure at least part of this story needed to be told from the woman’s point of view but she didn’t really have any agency.

Agency, in case you’re unfamiliar is… well, I’ll steal this description which came from Patricia C. Wrede — “The best short definition I found was “Agency is an actor’s ability to make purposeful choices.” (“Actor” in this sense being “a person who takes action,” not “Robert Downey, Jr.”)” (Source: http://www.pcwrede.com/agency-in-fiction/).

Normally when I discover that one of my characters lacks agency I rewrite them to give them some… but (because reasons!) that’s not what I did in this case. Instead I made the story about her lack of agency in a ‘This character has no real agency… but can she find some by the end of the story?’ kind of way. And it worked! Or, at least it worked enough for me to get the story written.

And it worked for the judges of the In Places Between short story contest at When Words Collide last year, because they chose it as the winner.

If you’d like to see if it works for you, you can download a free copy here:

Free download — Click Here

…and don’t mind the obviously American road signs. The story really IS set in Edmonton, I promise 🙂

E is for Evil Cover Reveal

E is for Evil contains twenty-six individual stories which each shine a different light on the multi-faceted idea that is evil. Running the gamut from lyrical fantasy to gritty horror in these stories possessed toys, hellish bureaucrats, scientists with questionable morals, abusive partners and even lingerie sellers all take their turn in the spotlight.

Featuring fresh new stories from Michael Fosburg, Lynn Hardaker, Stephanie A. Cain, Andrew Bourelle, Suzanne J. Willis, Samantha Kymmell-Harvey, Hal J. Friesen, C.S. MacCath, Michael B. Tager, Jonathan C. Parrish, Amanda C. Davis, Lilah Wild, Sara Cleto, Alexandra Seidel, Mary Alexander Agner, Cory Cone, Jeanne Kramer-Smyth, Beth Cato, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Megan Engelhardt, Danielle Davis, Brittany Warman, BD Wilson, L.S. Johnson, Pete Aldin and Michael M. Jones.

 

I wanted this cover to represent ‘evil’ without relying on any one specific religion or mythology (satan & pentagrams, for example), which was tricky. To further complicate things I also wanted it to be black and white and grey. That made it difficult not only to find the right image (we went with a play on ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’) but also to get the contrast right. It took a lot of finessing but in the end I think Jo nailed it. I can’t wait to see this one on physical books 🙂

If you’re going to pick up a copy of this please consider pre-ordering your copy here:

 

E is for Evil on Amazon

(US) (CA) (UK)

 

Pre-ordering is an awesome way of supporting the book and I really appreciate it. Thank you!

Cover design by Jonathan C. Parrish

Prairie Starport Cover Reveal

Usually I like to wait and do cover reveals when I have an official Table of Contents complete with signed contracts and back cover copy… but I’m making an exception for Prairie Starport. Why? Well, because on Facebook I promised that after the contribution deadline had passed I would share the cover, and I keep my promises.

And also because I really love this cover and can’t wait to show it off 🙂

Isn’t that lovely?

The contribution window for the anthology has passed (aka: submissions are closed) and I’m working on production and aiming for a May/June release. You can bet you’ll hear a lot more from me about this book between now and then but right this moment I’m just going to bask in how pretty it is 🙂

Cover Design by James, GoOnWrite.com 

I write, I edit and I take a lot of naps.

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