Dragon Boat season

April 20th, 2010

The snow has barely melted away, in fact some of the snow is still on the river bank, but people are already getting ready for the dragon boat season. I helped move the floating docks into position last Sunday, along with a dozen other volunteers. They were a bit cumbersome to move but we had enough bodies to make it easy enough. Getting the docks ready inspired a few paddlers to take a boat out on Monday. I wasn’t able to paddle myself, but did a walk around the river valley while a dragon boat was out on the water. There was still bits of ice floating in the river but that didn’t stop the paddlers claiming how great it was to back on the water. Personally I think I had more fun walking around and avoiding the dogs running about.

Those two days caused me to reflect on my latest book, Dragons in the Water, and remember my description of dragon boating. I still think it was pretty good, but I am bias. But I do have a review for it from Mike Haslam of Dragon Boat World International Magazine, quoted below.

Not the usual book about Dragon Boating this one but a fictional story, of love, intrigue and mystery, set in the wilder parts of Canada and centred around a Dragon Boat Crew competing in its first race of the season.“When Harry accepted an invitation to join a dragon boat racing team by the eccentric Sheldon, he was plunged into the world of paddling ,festivals and romance. But with Sheldon there is always a mystery and unknown forces involved as well”  – so says the introduction to the book and so it proves to be !  For committed Dragon Boaters the book’s main theme brings back memories of those first times in a boat and the commitment to the sport that it brings.  For the non-committed reader the relationship between the two main characters, Harry’s love life and the underlying mystery of Sheldon’s past and the mysteries to come, keep the reader’s interest going, until the whys and wherefores of the story’s paranormal conclusions are revealed !!  But that’s for you to find out !!

Dragons in the Water – Published by Midnight Showcase Fiction USA – ISSN 1555 – 5488 Vol.210-06SE

 It was nice of Mike to give the review, but if you read the magazine you will see how dedicated dragon boaters really are, which was something I wanted to emphasis in my story. I hope a few of you are inspired enough to take a look at dragon boating and perhaps attend one of the festivals.

Happy paddling

Jack

   

Birthday

April 14th, 2010

I survived another birthday. Not that is a serious accomplishment as I’ve made through a whole bunch already. However it this case the survival was being able to get up early the following morning and remembering the birthday itself. I have to thank my friends and family for not giving me joke or gag gifts. They were all thoughtful and useful. Even my brother was considerate (now that made me worry if he was okay). 

One thing I did different this year was not look back and try to see what I have accomplished, but rather look ahead and see what I can do. So what I will try to do is 1)sell more wine- I have to make a living and 2)write consistently- right now I have a tendency to write in rushes and then stop for too many days. Of course being good to my family is still number one priority. But since they were so nice to me on my birthday I figure I’m still in their good books.

I have a couple of new story ideas kicking in my head and I’m trying to figure out which one to start on first. I’m leaning towards a science fiction story that occurs on Mars. I have a few details to work out, largely due that humans are not yet able to live on the Red Planet. So that means I have to find a way people can live on Mars first and then add the story. It will be fun to write if some of the details can be ironed out.

I just received a review for my latest story Dragons in the Water. More details on that on the next blog. It’s midnight and time to retire the laptop tonight.

Back home

March 27th, 2010

I made it back home to Edmonton after too many hours in an plane. I think the flight was around 18 hours, and I thought I’d do some writing during the flight. I had my laptop with me- lots of battery power – but I had difficulty writing. I just found the environment made it hard to come up with anything interesting to write. I ended up doing some editing; that didn’t require much imagination. It seems my brain needs more stimulation than looking at the back of airplane seat. On the other hand I find when I’m walking I manage to come up with several ideas for writing. It’s also more comfortable than sitting in a plane and drinking weak coffee.

I am pleased to say I’m nearing the end of Castle 3 and, more importantly, I’ve finished killing off characters. I’m still working on who stays with who and where, but at least they can all live another day.

Besides Castle I’m working on another story. I find if I get stalled on one story, I can always work on another. If I get stalled on the second story I will try reading=I have a few books kicking around. If the reading doesn’t inspire me The I haul out my bottle of scotch. No, the scotch doesn’t help me get inspired to write. But after a few glasses I don’t worry about writing anymore.

To Live or Die

March 18th, 2010

I am now working towards the end of Castle, The new King. This is the last book and I have to make sure there are not too many loose ends. During the first two books, and even in this third book, I’ve introduced characters both good and bad. Most characters were somewhere in between, after all no one is perfect. However there comes a point in stories, especially in medieval ones, where some one important has to die. I do not kill one of my characters lightly, and there are a couple of reasons for that.

One is that I have built up my characters carefully and hate to see them go, even the evil ones. The other reason is, I dislike reading a book where the author kills a character just for effect or to make a scene noteworthy. The death sometimes comes off then as made up like a soap opera on a TV show. One of my favourite authors, Robert Sawyer, did this in Hominids. He killed off a character at the end in what seemed to be a contrived and cheap way to get an emotional response.  

However as I wrote the Castle series I came to a point where the logical step was to eliminate him/her. For example if I wrote about a character that continually liked to swim in shark infested waters, then eventually I would have to write he became dinner.

The other part of the Castle series I have to wrap up is the relationship between characters. As readers will know there is a contention between some of the couples where they will live, Earth or Domum. For some it will be a deal breaker. If she or he will not live in Earth or Domum, then they will have to part ways.

Like the decision to kill off a character, I will not keep them together or break them apart for the sake of getting shock value.

I’m currently in New Zealand but returning to Alberta next week. I hope to have The New King finished by then, unless, I decide to drink some more of their great wine. Then all bets are off. Writing under the influence is not recommended. 

Cheers,

Jack

Shopping

March 10th, 2010

When visiting another country it seems there is an obligation to do some shopping. I took Laurie to a mall near Auckland and agreed to meet at Starbucks later. I managed to visit any shops I was interested in, have a bottle of water, drink a coffee and then waited. Laurie in the same time managed to visit two shops. I sensed a problem immediately. 

At the end of the afternoon she finally made around to most of the stores and bought a purse and a couple of tops. I managed to buy two pints of beer and read two newspapers.

I did managed to daydream a bit and come up with another part to Castle 3, a wedding of all things to write about. Hey, I already have figured out the big battle but need to wrap up few other things. Gotta go- Laurie wants to do more shopping and I’m the driver.

Jack

New Zealand

March 6th, 2010

I have landed in New Zealand, Wellington to be exact, and was able to spend a bit of time there before taking a short flight to Nelson. Great country to visit and I highly recommend it as a tourist destination.  I’m also doing some driving and that does take some getting used to. First, one has to remember to stay on the left side of the road. That isn’t too bad. However, when I approch their round-abouts (traffic circles) I get a bit concerned as I try to figure which exit to take while watching for traffic coming from the wrong side. It has made travelling interesting.

I remember the first time I went to New Zealand, six or seven years ago. It was a great vacation and the unique landscape and plant life inspired me to write my first novel Talnut. If you read Talnut, and have the chance to travel to New Zealand, I believe you will see the parts of New Zealand transported in my story. Talnut was my first novel and I fondly recall how it came about. I don’t mean to be giving it a plug here, but it describes an alien world quite well. That strange world is actually only a plane flight away. (Okay, in my case an 18 hour plane flight).

I’m not able to do much with my website while in New Zealand, but on my return I will upload some new pictures and possible do another contest. Likely something  to do with Talnut.

Best wishes

Jack

Dragon boats

February 17th, 2010

Dragons in the Water was released yesterday by Midnight Showcase Publishing. The story is a fictional account about dragon boats and I tried to put some humour in it based on the experiences I had as a dragon boat paddler. I really enjoyed my time in a dragon boat and met many wonderful people. My wife Laurie still is part of the River Rats Dragon Boat team and that helps me stay in contact with many of the members. So this story is my tip of the hat to those who put their energy into dragon boating and for letting me a part of it. I hope all those who are involved in the sport enjoy the story.

The dragon boat story took me away from working on Castle 3, The New King. I’m about halfway through on that story and will focus my efforts on finishing it. I had some delays due to some renovations our home but they are now done so I will have a bit more free time to write, though this week I am pouring wine in Calgary at Winefest. I’m at table 20 if you’re down there and would love to say hello to you.  

Story flow

February 4th, 2010

One problem all writers have is making sure a story flows properly. As an author sometimes we want to change the pace of a story so that it fits in with a change in the action. However, and I speak as a reader myself of a lot of books, sometimes the flow or pace is sudden and we are caught unaware. We trust ourselves as writers and our editors to catch those mistakes, but it is something that can happen to the best of us.

For myself, I rarely try not to force myself to write when I’m tired. That leads to errors and dull writing. I like to write when I can do a large section at a time and I find it’s much easier keeping the story flow continuous.

I have a new story coming out at the end of the month. “Dragons in the Water” is scheduled for release in the third week of February by Midnight Showcase. It is a humorous look at dragon boat races through the eyes of Harry Webster, a reporter for a local paper. He discovers an old friend of his, Sheldon, has joined a dragon boat racing team. And as Harry knows, wherever Sheldon is, there is trouble and a mystery.

Cheers

Jack

44000 stories, The WarBrides

January 26th, 2010

A few weeks ago I travelled down to Calgary with my wife and my mother. Our destination was the Glenbow Museum and the reason for going there was the exhibit of the Warbrides. The warbrides were ladies that met and later married soldiers during the second world war.  These ladies gave up their homeland to move to Canada and elsewhere. The exhibit was put together by Bev Tosh, and she did an extremely good job of explaining what the warbrides went through. Of particular interest for myself was the portrait done of my mother in her wedding dress painted on a wood board, done by Bev. In all she has painted about a hundred portraits, catching the personality of different warbrides.

As I looked through the exhibit I realized that each of these brave women had a story to tell. There were hardships of leaving friends and family to travel to a new country, not knowing what they would find there. In all about 44,000 ladies made the difficult decision to go, and each has a story to tell.

My mother also donated her wedding dress to Bev’s collection and it was a special moment to see it on display in the museum. It was a truly a moment to step back in time and get a glimpse of what was then. I doubt one can truly appreciate what was going through their minds at that time, but it is worth to try. If you have opportunity to see this fine exhibit, please take the time to do so.

Back to writing

January 17th, 2010

I hope everyone enjoyed Christmas and New Year’s. Our household was busy, and a bit tiring. In December we started some renovations downstairs to convert an unused room to a bedroom for some guests. Laurie and I worked late at night to complete the room in time. Our son in Vnacouver brought his girlfriend and her mother (she was visiting from New Zealand) to stay with us for a few days. Another son from Calgary brought his wife and two year old to stay with us. It was busy and fun. Lots of people, lots of food, and not enough hours to do everything.

My writing took a beating. In fact it came to a virtual standstill, as it was impossible to find the energy and enough quiet to concentrate. That doesn’t mean progress wasn’t made as far as writing stories is concerned. One area was my editors who were working on material I have submitted. I am happy to announce that Dragons in the Water will be released in March. I will give you more details on the story in another blog. I also was able to spend some time thinking about stories I am working on. Castle, part 3, The New King was stalled during the Christmas rush but in my mind I worked out some of plot problems and now have a clear vision where to take the story.

I have a few more stories that formed in my mind that I will work into a plot at a later date. So while the keyboard was idle it doesn’t mean nothing was being accomplished.

More blogs to follow soon!