Tuesday, December 4, 2018

December 2018 update

My story "Mission on Nemistat" went online on Electric Spec November 30th. It's another anthro story with an AI-enhanced canine as the protagonist. You can find it here:

Electric Spec was kind enough to invite me, as well as other authors, to contribute to their blog. You can see what I had to say about "Mission on Nemistat" by following this link:

I recently received my copy of Dreams and Nightmares, September 2018, which explores what happens when Little Miss Muffet grows up (and becomes an arachnology professor...), as well as Star*Line Fall 2018, which includes three of my poems: "When the Wild West Meets the Frontier", "The Marvel of Us", and "whirring of wheels on asphalt".

Scifaikuest November 2018 print edition contained two haibun poems, "When the Stars Align", and "One Special Night". 

Mobius also published a poem entitled "One Last Time", which you can find at the link below:

Coming Soon

Also coming in December is a post on the Relationship Blogger's "Heart and Humanity" blog. I'll post the link in the next update. December should see the publication of two poems in the Third Wednesday quarterly publication. 

There's also a short story pending publication about one of my favourite creations, women's professional hockey player turned detective Moira Jenkins. More about that when the anthology hits the press.

What I'm Working On

Another Moira Jenkins story is out on the submission trail, while a third one is undergoing some fine-tuning. I'm also working on some short stories to fit various calls for submission that have caught my interest. 

I still have a backlog of story ideas (including some completed stories that didn't garner acceptances and need some fine-tuning) that I'm working through, so the focus has been more prose than poetry lately.

From time to time, though, a news story gets my interest and spurs some poetic efforts. Not all get published first time around, but one of them (about the orca whale that hung onto its dead offspring for days on end) did land in the Third Wednesday acceptance pool, and others are out there looking for a home. 

Till next time...

Thursday, November 1, 2018

November 2018

Leaves are falling, and so is the temperature. This means less time in the garden, but on the plus side, maybe easier to find time for writing. Here's what I've been up to:

New releases

A sci-fi short story entitled "What Lies Beneath" was included in Nomadic Delirium's November 2018 edition of Environmental Holocaust. The story follows the efforts of a Hamilton-based researcher to combat the spread of a virus.

A sci-fi poem entitled  "History Waits to be Written" made it into Polar Borealis #7. More details available here: http://polarborealis.ca/

Finally, a sci-fi poem "Ghost Stories" was included in the Sounds of the Night anthology from Alban Lake Publishing:

Coming Soon

I have a few stories and poems pending publication, including a couple of items slated for the November print edition of Scifaikuest.

More details to come as publication dates get firmed up.

What I'm Working On

I decided against doing NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, this November. I have this habit of starting things and not finishing them and don't need to add to the list. In fact, as of the start of October, I had 32 short stories underway in various forms of completion. Some have been sent out and rejected, others never quite completed.

When I took a look at the list, I realized that even the previously-sent-out stories would benefit from some tinkering (or, in some cases, re-tooling). My current focus is improving the link between character and plot. I've found a book entitled 20 Master Plots and How to Build Them, by Ronald B. Tobias, useful in a few cases where I liked the basic idea but recognized a need to strengthen the story line. So far, I've dusted off five of the pending stories and sent them on their way. Just 27 to go . . .

Until next month...

Monday, October 1, 2018

October 2018 Update

New releases

New Myths, a publication that's housed my work before, included in their September issue a poem entitled "What Really Happened" as well as a short story "Gone". "What Really Happened" is based on part on the antics of my border collie cross Sneeks, and inspired as well by the Gingham Dog and Calico Cat. "Gone" details a dog's search for her missing human after an alien invasion.

Pieces on the New Myths site are available for viewing free of charge. You'll find the link to all of my New Myths pieces, including the most recent ones, here:

I have a poem entitled "With Two Left Feet" coming out in the upcoming Tesseracts anthology Nevertheless. In connection with that book's promotion, I contributed to their "Bright Spots" blog with a piece entitled "Step By Step", that draws on my recovery from knee surgery.

Advance orders kicked off in September for From a Cat's View, issued by Post-to-Print Publishers. I have three contributions in this anthology. The first is a sci-fi short story "The Open Road", about the adventures of a ship's cat named Quicksilver. There are also two poems inspired by the antics of my cat Smokey, "Moonlight" and "A Cat's Confession". You can find out more about the anthology here:

As part of the promo for this anthology, the publisher is running a give-away for cat-themed items.  See here for info:

I had two reviews, for Paths to the Stars by Edward Willett, and Museum of Second Chances, by A.E. Warren, posted at The Future Fire. I enjoyed both books. Willett's book is a collection of short stories that provides plenty of variety and some unique twists. The Museum of Second Chances takes an interesting look at a future society in which species from the past—including Neanderthal Man—are reintroduced. You can find the reviews at The Future Fire site:

The Martian Wave, from Nomadic Delirium Press, came out toward the end of September. That volume included two poems of my poems, "Understanding", and "Will They?" as well as a short story entitled "The Chienchat Conundrum". This story is set on Arcadia, a planet initially settled by individuals from New Brunswick, and revolves around an Arcadian keystone species that has more to it than meets the eye.

You can find out more about the Martian Wave here:

I also discovered that a limerick I wrote was named a runner-up for Saturday Evening Post "Limerick Laughs" contest from May/June, 2018. You'll find the poem and that of the winner and other runners-up here:

The August print edition of Scifaikuest includes three of my poems, "butterflies on Degna", "He's Come So Far", and "Cravings".

And, last but not least, during a camping trip to Earl Rowe Provincial Park in July, we drove past our old place up in Mulmur. This inspired a nostalgic haibun entitled "Good Reasons" that appears in Contemporary Haibun Online, October 2018, vol. 14 no. 3

Coming Soon

New Myths has a kickstarter campaign on for Passages, Best of New Myths Anthology Volume 1. The book's theme is exploring the joys and challenges of entering and surviving a new stage in life. The antho will include one of my favorite stories, "Roxy". Roxy is a story of an AI-enhanced police dog. More deeply than that, the story touches on what our responsibility is to the animals we use, and in this case, enhance, for jobs like police work. The volume will also feature a poem of mine entitled "Fidelis Reinvented".

Details about the coming anthology here:

What I'm Working On

I still have a pair of book reviews to wrap up, and another book for review enroute in the mail.

Though I didn't get past the first round in "WYRM's Gauntlet", in the course of my research for the first assignment I ran across some interesting advice from Ray Bradbury. One of the pieces of advice for writers was to "stuff your head" by reading one short story, one poem, and one essay each night before bed. I've modified this slightly to suit my own needs, but find that reading poetry in this way (small doses) is more enjoyable and more impactful than sitting down to read a book or poetry zine cover to cover, so I'm giving that a try.

Here's a link to the full article:

Also pondering whether to do NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, in November. If so, I'll be working on a collection of short stories.

And, of course, continuing to work on poems and short stories as time permits.

Until next month...

Monday, September 3, 2018

September already?

Hard to believe September has already arrived. Seems like the summer just started . . .

Nonetheless, here it is—and as the season changes from summer to fall, I've decided to try something new: providing regular blog updates on recent and pending publications, as well as projects I'm currently working on. 

I'm embarking on this project, not out of a sense of ego (I hope), but because readers sometimes what to know what writers are up to. Plus, I enjoy the monthly newsletter Louise Penny, one of my favourite authors, puts out each month, because I enjoy her stuff and particularly like hearing about what she's working on, and when her books are going to launch.

It's in the spirit of letting people know what I'm up to, writing-wise, that I'm launching this feature of the site. So let's start with:

New releases
This month saw the launch of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Yes, which includes a piece I wrote, entitled "What's the Story". "What's the Story" dates back to my days at McMaster University in Hamilton, and how I got my start volunteering with the student newspaper as a sports writer. The great thing about being published in a Chicken Soup anthology is that you get several free copies of the book. I'm taking full advantage of that by reading what my fellow writers had to say about their own outside-the-comfort-zone experiences. I'm about half-way through the book at this point, and really enjoying it.

August also saw the launch of the Future Days Science Fiction and Fantasy anthology published by Castrum Press (https://www.castrumpress.com/scifi-fantasy-books/). This anthology includes my story "The Caller". Future Days features 17 stories, penned by individuals such as New York Times Bestseller Christopher G. Nuttall, and Amazon Bestsellers, PP Corcoran and Rick Partlow.

The September 2018 issue of Nomadic Delirium's The Fifth Dimension has just come out, and it includes "The Messenger's Mission", an alternate-history story based on the Medusa myth. You can find it here: https://nomadicdeliriumpress.com/blog/product/the-fifth-di-september-2018/

Also in August, spurred by a suggestion one of the anthology publishers made to its authors, I set up an Amazon Author profile. Though I had my trepidations, the process turned out to be pretty straightforward.

Coming Soon
New Myths (NewMyths.com) a publication I've had three short stories and two poems published in to date, has a new anthology coming out in the fall, Passages, Best of New Myths Anthology Volume 1. The book's theme is exploring the joys and challenges of entering and surviving a new stage in life. The antho will include one of my favorite stories, "Roxy". Roxy is a story of an AI-enhanced police dog. More deeply than that, the story touches on what our responsibility is to the animals we use, and in this case, enhance, for jobs like police work. The volume will also feature a poem of mine entitled "Fidelis Reinvented". New Myths is planning a kickstarter campaign, beginning September 15th.

I'm looking forward to the launch of Tesseracts' Nevertheless, scheduled for September 2018. This anthology includes a poem I wrote, entitled "With Two Left Feet". Although former teammates may suspect it's about my hockey playing days, the poem is actually a futuristic piece about how we find hope even in dark times.  

Also coming soon (October) is an anthology entitled From A Cat's POV, issued by Post-to-Print Publishers. I have three contributions in this anthology. The first is a sci-fi short story "The Open Road", about the adventures of a ship's cat named Quicksilver. There are also two poems inspired by the antics of my cat Smokey (see photos below) during the too-brief time he lived with us. The poems are titled "Moonlight" and "A Cat's Confession". You can find out more about the anthology here: https://post-to-print.com/from-a-cats-p-o-v-selected-stories/

What I'm Working On
I'm currently working at wrapping up some book reviews I've committed to. I'm also progressing, albeit more slowly than I'd like, on a sci-fi short story that references the Last Spike, and have some other short stories in process as well. Main focus for the coming month will be to get some more short stories in the submission queue.

I also signed up for a contest called "WYRM's Gauntlet", which involves completing a number of challenges. The first is reading and reviewing a specific story (one I'd never encountered before) by Harlan Ellison. Only eight competitors get chosen to advance to the next round, so here's hoping  . . .

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Doomsday Clock Inches Forward

Just read on CBC news that the Doomsday Clock has moved closer to midnight.
The hypothetical clock measures how close humanity is to destroying ourselves and the world we live on.
While not exactly uplifting news, it's not surprising that the clock's hands have been moved. With all the posturing about nuclear war and climate change denial in the news these past few months, it's more a question of "what took you so long?"
Here's a link to a CBC story on the topic, for those interested:
And, in honor of this story, here's a link to a haibun of mine published in Contemporary Haibun Online in their September, 2017 edition:


Wouldn't it be great if people come across this poem a few decades from now, and say, "Imagine that, feeling so close to destruction back then. We're in much better shape now."
It's possible. Back in 1991, the hands were set at seventeen minutes to midnight. Still too close, but a bit more breathing room.

Things can change for the better—we need to believe that, and do what we can to make it so.
For the sake of my grandchildren, I hope we're successful.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Cherish is the Word

Most of us, I think, have a song that has the power to launch them back through time, and evoke a specific moment or emotion. 

“Cherish” is such a song for me. 

For when I hear it, on the radio or even in my mind, I am suddenly nine years old again, sitting on a chair in the kitchen.  It is early, early morning, well before my normal get-out-of-bed time and everything seems a bit fuzzy because I am not yet fully awake.  I am sitting—perhaps have been told to sit?—off to the side, out of the way while my parents and two older brothers bustle around purposefully.   

The house in whose kitchen I am sitting is a cozy one-and-a-half storey that has been home to me all my short life.  But that is about to change.

Because we are about to move.  Today, in fact.

And so I am sitting in the kitchen on this morning, which will be the last morning that I sit in this kitchen, as the clock-radio croons quietly from its spot on the kitchen counter:  Cherish is the word I use to describe…  

The music seems melancholy, and it matches my mood, because I am recounting in my mind all the things I cherish about this place where we live.  All the things that I will miss once we have moved into town.  I am thinking about the beloved cherry tree in the front yard where I have spent endless contemplative hours clambering around.  Thinking about the cool, clear quarry across the road whose waters I will no longer dip into on a hot summer day.  Thinking about my friends in the neighbourhood and at school, all of whom will be left behind.   

Why do we have to move, anyway?  is the question that I have been chewing on for the past several weeks, with no suitable answer.  For to a nine-year-old tom-boy, there is nothing wrong with where we live, out in the country on the outskirts of town.   

But stubbornly, inevitably, the day will unfold and the move will, indeed, happen.  My parents and older brothers, with some fumbling help from me perhaps, will load up our worldly goods; some into the back of the light blue pick-up truck the neighbours have loaned us, and some into the seats and trunk of our nearly-new beige Pontiac Strato Chief.  We will be off to town and our new house. 

Eventually, it will all turn out all right.  It will be better than all right, because I will be able to walk to the library instead of re-reading my brothers’ hand-me-down books; and I will be able to participate in sports at school and in town without having to rely on someone to drive me; and I will make new friends.  And eventually, years later, I will be able to choose to move back to the country, to turn the wheel full circle. 

But I do not know these things, and so I am sitting in the kitchen in the early, early morning, with my mood matching the melancholy music that washes over and around me.  And the song Cherish has the power, and will always have the power, to carry me back to that very moment in time. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Close Encounters of the Wildlife Kind

Last week, while driving to work, I was saddened by the evidence of car-nage on the roadways--in other words, road kill.  On the 30 minute drive to work, I think I counted three dead raccoons, a couple of expired porcupines, and one unidentifiable blob with a few patches of black fur.

As someone who once had a racing rabbit run straight into the car, I know that it's not always possible to avoid hitting an animal while driving.  Nonetheless, I try to take what steps I can, and hope others do as well.  That being said, I thought it timely to share some insights I acquired while researching a column on this topic a couple of years ago.

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation web site offers some good tips for wildlife avoidance.  According to the site, most deer-driver collisions occur between October and December, with November being the peak month.  The May-June time frame is also risky as various forms of wildlife are attracted to roadside ditches for the salt, and to escape black flies and other insect pests.

Regardless of the time of year, it’s particularly important to be watchful at night and particularly around dusk and dawn, as that’s when the deer tend to be on the move.  Although wildlife collisions occur in Ontario an average of once every 38 minutes, the reality is that many of them occur during the peak danger times:  5 a.m. to 7 a.m., and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.  At times when wildlife's peak travel times intersect with the main commuting rush, the risk is elevated.

The MTO site offered some tips on wildlife avoidance, so I thought I’d cross reference that with my own experience to see if it held up.

“Scan the road ahead,” was the advice, “and watch for glowing eyes”.  OK, I’ll go with that.   More than once an eerie glow by the roadside has given me the first warning of a potential wildlife encounter--and in fact just last week I saw several sets of eyes, in different spots, glinting in the headlights' beams.

“Never swerve suddenly.”  Uh-oh.  That one, I’ll have to work on.  My reflexes always seem to get the better of me and I’ve found myself taking evasive action to avoid dive-bombing birds, squirrels that can’t seem to make up their minds which of twenty directions they want to go, or blowing trash that I’ve mistaken for a small animal.

“Never assume an animal will move out of your way.”  Partly true.  I once had a stare-down with a moose on the way to Sudbury.  The moose stood.  I waited.  Eventually, he moved.  So I guess the point is, don’t assume they will move right away.

“If one animal crosses, remember others may follow.”  True.  I’ve seldom seen a lone deer crossing the road.  More than once, the follower has waited in the underbrush until the leader was partway across before revealing him or herself.  So I always try to watch for the second animal, or sometimes the third, to make an appearance. 

According to the web site, 89% of wildlife collisions occur outside urban areas, on two-lane roads, and 86% occur in good weather.

But I suppose it could be worse.  On its web site, British Columbia notes that animal hazards include not only deer and moose, but also bears, elk, and bighorn sheep.

So as the days get longer and my commuting hours start overlapping with dawn and dusk, I’ll remind myself to keep an eye peeled for deer.

And I’ll try to be thankful that, in the area I live in at least, I don't need to worry so much about bears and bighorns.