When Words Collide & A Novel is Launched

Posted in My Opinion, love it or leave it on September 4, 2016 by tgmreynolds

(Long post warning. Get comfortable.)

Here in Calgary every August is a weekend event which I take two weeks off of work for When Words Collide Readers & Writers Festival at the Calgary Delta South Hotel. Although it officially starts at noon on the Friday and ends at midnight-ish on Sunday, when you combine pre- and post-festival workshops (which I attend voraciously) and a road trip to either Banff (the Rocky Mountains) or Drumheller (dinosaurs!) with the festival Guests of Honour, my three-day festival lasts 6 days.

As a rule, I don’t get out much. Due to pet responsibilities, I haven’t left town for anything longer than a day trip in over two years, so this annual weekend of writerly bonding and networking and partying in town IS my vacation. I have friends coming from all over North America for this event, and it’s great!

imageThis year the first workshop was with Canadian author Julie Czerneda, and she had us all building aliens and environs and creating first contact…using pipe cleaners, tissue paper and PlayDoh. We had a blast! Shannon Allen and I ended up with a sentient, space-faring sea slug that lives around Arctic lava vents. That may sound strange to you, but it’s the kind of alien-building help my sci fi novel needs.

imageThursday evening was the Guest of Honour Readings at Fish Creek Library, which is this wondrous glass-pyramid structure full of light and inspiration. Julie Czerneda, Ian Hamilton, and Marty Chan all read while I was there. I usually find that author readings can drag on and on because many authors are not the best public speakers, but when the excerpts read are short and filled with energy, and the writers engage with the listeners, it is a delightful time, and this was one of those times.

Ian Hamilton

Friday started off with a half-day workshop with mystery writer Ian Hamilton, who didn’t START his fiction-writing career until he was in his mid sixties, and now he has nearly a dozen books of the exploits of his heroine, Ava Lee.

Absinthe less

The Festival officially began at noon on Friday, so I raced home to tend my beasts and made it back in time for the now-infamous Absinthe & Whisky Party put on by my publisher, Tyche Books. If you haven’t tried absinthe, you don’t know what you’re missing. As server/artist Kevin Jepson explained, it leaves your mind very sharp while your body gets more than a little fuzzy.

imageHe was exactly right! I sampled one of the excellent scotches upstairs in the loft,  got my absinthe lesson from Kevin (including a generous sample), then headed over to moderate a panel on Humour in Fiction. My mind stayed sharp, my body was a bit silly, and fun was had by all.

The parties continued (I didn’t drink any more), but I eventually had to get home to the beasts (and get some sleep).

 

Tim Reynolds & Margaret Curelas

Saturday was a big day for me, as we (Tyche Books and I) officially launched my new novel, “Waking Anastasia“, about a young man who accidentally awakens the mischievous ghost of Anastasia Romanova. It was a multi-author event, as I wasn’t Tyche’s only launching author this weekend, so we all did short readings and signed a few books. Here I am with my talented publisher (and editor), Margaret Curelas.

Enigma Front: Burnt

In addition to the Tyche launch, I had a short story in an anthology (“Enigma Front: Burnt“) being launched by my writing group, the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association (IFWA), and I taught a class on Sparking the Idea (for beginning writers). Then it was back home for dinner, a nap with the beasts, walk the dog, and right back to the Festival for the mass autograph signing in which every author at the Festival set up shop and waited for fans to come on by and stroke our egos. My ego got quite a bit of attention because when the signing event started, my publisher only had two copies of “Waking Anastasia” left. As we were packing up at 10pm, Julie and Roger Czerneda rushed over to buy one of those two copies, and then there was one (which sold out first thing the next morning in the Merchants’ Room!).

The usual Saturday Night launches and parties continued and we wandered from event to event, sampling appetizers here and desserts there, and catching up with friends we probably hadn’t seen in person since last year’s festival. This is the weekend when I stock up on hugs to last the rest of the year.

There was the Godfather of Canadian Science Fiction, Rob Sawyer’s, party, Bundoran Books’ launch party (for Jennifer Rahn’s  “The Cyanide Process” and Brent Nichols’ “Stars like Cold Fire”) and one or two others which we wandered in and out of to spread the love. Since I had to drive home later, I went without alcohol, which made some of the socializing a bit clunky, but still fun. These weekends are best experienced when you are staying in the hotel, but hangovers are fewer when you drive home to your own bed.

Sunday ‘dragged’ me back to the hotel for another anthology event, this time a tiny one of ten stories which all made the final selection of the Robyn Herrington Memorial Short Story Contest. My absolutely silly superhero send-up, “Space Junk”, was one of the lucky ones. For an hour we all read brief slices of our stories, and in the second hour the four judges (professional editors and publishers) gave us our critiques and rendered their verdicts. “Space Junk” was on the honourable mentions, which was more than I expected for a story about a union superhero rather too proud of the size of his manhood.

Waking Anastasia by Timothy Reynolds

Waking Anastasia

Now, if it sounds like I’d had a busy, big-event weekend up to this point, it was all just leading up to my solo presentation, “Meet Anastasia”. With a PowerPoint presentation, I explained to the twenty-or-so attendees exactly where my story had come from (a dream), how much of it was true history (99% of the opening scenes), and what research led me to portray Anastasia the way I did. I had been planning this for months and hadn’t done a PowerPoint presentation in years, so the fingers were crossed…but unnecessarily so. It all went well, people learned a few things, we had a few laughs, and the official part of my weekend was DONE.

There was more visiting, many more hugs, and then I was off home for a nap, a steak, and a few hours of beast attending before returning for the last official party, the “Dead Dog Party” in Boomtown, the hotel’s pub.

Believe it or not, I wasn’t done yet. First thing Monday morning I was back up to the hotel to meet with my road-tripping cohorts, Stacey Kondla, Julie & Roger Czerneda, Cliff Samuels, and Annette Mocek… and we were off to Drumheller, Alberta, and the Royal Tyrrell Museum in the heart of dinosaur country. I could do a whole blog on the hilarity of that day alone, but I will share just one photo which pretty much sums it up.image

Yes, it was that kind of silly day. And just in case you’re wondering, that IS a giant T-Rex in the background. Not only does it reside at the Drumheller Tourist info building, but you can fork over a few shekels and climb up the inside, to the head, just like the Statue of Liberty, but less French and much cooler.

imageDespite the long (terrific) day, There was more to come. Monday evening was the launch of Sarah Kades’ delightful new novel “Kiss Me in the Rain” at the Wildrose Brewery, so Annette and I met up with Julie and Roger Czerneda to keep the party going. It was a great launch, with Editor-Supreme Adrienne Kerr handling the intro of Sarah and her beautiful new book. Food and dancing was enjoyed by all.

Okay. Five days down one to go. You might be thinking that after this much writerly activity, that Day Six would be a great time to chill out and kick back. Not a f*cking chance! Launches and parties and networking are all great and wonderful, but for me the big event is the novel-critique workshop at the end of it all. This workshop is where I do most of my learning and get feedback on my work in progress. My novel “The Broken Shield” was workshopped with Walter Jon Williams one year and then again with my new BFF David B. Coe the next. “Waking Anastasia” was workshopped with Jack Whyte the following year and the author pitch for WA was workshopped with Senior Editor of Commercial Fiction at a Penguin Canada (at the time) Adrienne Kerr. I took that pitch to Maragaret Curelas of Tyche Books, and she bought “Waking Anastasia”. Last year I workshopped my Young Adult fantasy novel with bestie David B. Coe, and I hope to find a publisher for that fun novel soon.

imageSo year, 2016 brough the amazing, wonderful, talented, lovely, (she’s ‘family’, so she didn’t have to pay me to say that) Adrienne Kerr back to Calgary for #WWC2016, and this time she was leading two one-day manuscript workshops. Six of us had sent the first 20 pages of our manuscripts in months before and we’d all been reading and writing critiques in preparation for this day. I won’t bore you with the details, but I find I learn as much about my writing when I critique another author’s work as when they critique mine. I learned a lot, had a lot of fun, and am energized and plowing ahead with this exciting new novel (a psychological thriller, sort of).

Six Days dedicated to writing, publishing, networking, selling, hugging, and absinthe… All done. Until next year.

That’s  it, that’s all. Buy my book. Leave a review.🙂

Ciao for now.

Tim.

“Waking Anastasia” is available in print or eBook format from www.Chapters.ca or www.Amazon.com.

 

 

 

The Presence of Past Presents

Posted in My Opinion, love it or leave it with tags , , , , on December 23, 2015 by tgmreynolds

Disclaimer: This is not a plea for sympathy or invites or company. It is just how it is for me this Christmas and what I’m doing about it.

****************

Christmas has always been big for me, and Christmas 2015 is the first one in thirteen years in which I will be alone in the house with no spouse (she’s moved on), no guests (I’m not much of a host), and no family (they live a gazillion miles away). It will be me, and my fur kids. Two cats and a dog. I had a terrific turkey dinner with friends last weekend and will be having dinner with great friends on Christmas Day, but will be coming back to the quiet house. 

Santa and Kim

Christmases before I moved to Calgary were filled with carolling, tobogganing, playing Santa Claus, playing Joseph in the Nativity scene, selling Christmas trees with Dad, parties with friends, and midnight church services. One year I even spent Christmas dinner in a bunkhouse with real cowboys and trail guides, eating off paper plates and singing Christmas carols to guitars and harmonica. It was the best! 

Christmases as a child were exhilarating. Many were spent in a small town that had horse-drawn sleigh rides, carollers, and a dedicated adult who walked around town and tossed snowballs on rooftops to make it sound like reindeer were landing. The gifts under the tree the next morning were astounding. Not usually expensive, just cool and fun and full of love. It was a Norman Rockwell life.

The only gift I will receive this year will be from my mother. Same as last year and too many of the years before that. I knew that this was going to be a tough Christmas, being the first post-divorce and all, so I’ve made sure that the tree is up and fully decorated, but it looked pretty sparse with just the one gift (probably a too-small sweater, again) under it. 

Getting maudlin, I started to think about the great gifts I’ve been given over the years by friends and family, and that’s when I realized that I still have most of them. Yes, I’m a pack rat. And that’s how I’m going to save my Christmas.

I’ve decided to take the best 20 or so gifts I’ve received in 55 Christmases, wrap them, label and bow them, and stick them under the tree. There will be the teddy bear from my first Christmas in 1960 and the handmade bear I received thirty-five years later. There will be the mint coin sets our grandparents gave us from 1965 to 1981. There’s the replica of Charlemagne’s sword, and the custom, handmade, personalized pen I received only a couple years ago. 

 

Gifts from the heart

 
There’s a novel I helped to get published, a framed photo of my youngest nephew, a carved lion my mother brought back from Africa, and a silk tie my late roommate Tracy brought back for me from her trip to Europe when we lived together.

The list goes on, and is diverse and odd, but the one thing all of the gifts have in common is that they were from people I will not be spending Christmas with this year. Some of the givers live away, but some, like Tracy, my father, and my grandparents, are dead.
This will be an emotional Christmas Day, because as I open each gift I’m going to take a moment and think about how much that loved one means to me, whether they’re across the country, across the city, or passed on. I will be physically alone, but I will be so completely enveloped in love from Christmases past that I hope it will become my new tradition. I fully expect to weep like a child as the emotions slam into me, but I’m hoping it will be cathartic. 

Because I’m the one who has done all the wrapping and labelling, the only surprises will be whatever rises up from within my heart. I’m pretty sure that there will be cat meows and dog whimpers as my trio all try to figure out why their pet papa is curled up in a ball on the carpet in tears. But that’s okay, because they are fully capable of being my comfort. Sadly, the one dog who was created from a piece of my heart and given tiny pooch form has been gone since October 2014, and I think she is who I will miss most. Whenever things got tough in the ten years she was at my side, she simply climbed up in my lap and shared her heartbeat.   

 

My little heart-warmer. 2004-2014

 
Anyway, that’s my plan for Christmas this year: reliving past giftings and past Christmases, and once again feeling the love that fills my life.

Almost fully stocked

May you have a marvellous Holiday Season, no matter what you celebrate. If you’re alone, know that it’s only in body, not in soul, because I’m there with you in spirit. If you’re surrounded by family and friends, give them all hugs and thank them the gift of their presence in your life.

That’s it, that’s all.

Merry Christmas.

Tim (and Sedona, Kerouac, and Calliope).

Solar Garden Light Hack — Dollar Store style!

Posted in (Almost) Totally Useless How-to Guide, My Opinion with tags , , , on July 25, 2015 by tgmreynolds

We have a simple back yard at the beginning of its evolution. We inherited a deck a rough shed, a patch of grass, and that’s about it. I am many things, but at the top of the list is ‘cheap’. I hate paying for electricity when I don’t have to. I wanted to string lights in the yard but was damned if I’d pay the bill to feed them as well as have to buy an expensive outdoor timer. Also, there was nothing in the middle of the yard to support a string. The crude solution? Use the old fence itself.

This is where the Dollarama dollar-and-more store came to the rescue. They sell a few types of solar yard lights, from $1.25 to $3.00. For this project I went with the cheapies. I started with five, to see whether the concept would work.

These little lights are simple—not much more than a tiny solar panel on top, a rechargeable battery, and an LED in a clear tube on top of a shaft and spike, to plant in the garden. My idea was to remove the spike, and attach the lamp itself to our fence.

We have harsh winds here so I decided to go with heavy-duty screws. Since I don’t believe in interfering with the neighbour’s enjoyment of their own yard, the lights had to be below the top of our 6′ fence. I needed the solar panels to be exposed to as much sunlight as possible, but I also needed the lamps to be mostly vertical so that rain and snow would pool inside and short them out.

The screw.

The screw, predrilled into the fence, below the top.

Here’s one of the screws in the fence. On about a 50-degree angle, 4″ down from the top. Being 1/4″ thick, I pre-drilled it to make sure it didn’t split the old, dry board. The cracks you see were already there.

The next step was to squirt hot glue into the base of the lamp and quickly slide it and seat it onto the screw.

Solar fence light.

Dollar Store improvised solar fence light.

Nice and simple. The black cap unscrews and there is an On-Off toggle switch inside. Remember to switch it on. I turned them all on before attaching them so that I didn’t risk breaking the glue seal. The other reason for the angle is so that snow will slide off in winter.

Here is the first row of lights… yes, the first screw isn’t on the same angle. If my limited OCD can’t handle it, I’ll fix it. In the meantime, it’s just fine.

Solar lights.

A simple, solid solution in a row.

Solar fence lights.

Solar garden lights screwed to the fence.

So, how does it all look? Well, this photo doesn’t do it justice, but now there’s a nice line of lights defining our yard. It’s just a start. The final installation is 17 lights on the fence, 53″ apart. I had to make sure that the ones near the gate were out of the gate’s reach, too.

The total cost, including a glue gun, glue sticks, screws, and sales tax, was just under $30. As soon as I put the winding pathway in, there will be five fancier lights to illuminate it, at $3 each. The total installation took less than fifteen minutes.

The best part is, there is no hit on our utility bill. Cheap can work. Once I add a pergola to the yard or deck, there will be more lights to come, but hopefully in a colourful string, to add some oomph to the space.

That’s it, that’s all.

Ciao for now.

T-Bone.

The Brilliant Banner for Writers…if I say so myself.

Posted in Books, My Opinion, Novel Process, Writing with tags , , , , , , on April 17, 2015 by tgmreynolds

Most writers I know are on a limited budget for advertising and promotion, especially the self-published ones. Even the writers with traditional publishers may have to foot the bill for some or all promotional supplies.

I, myself, am both self-published (4 books) and traditionally published. When I’ve done book signings in the past I had some nicely done 8×10 covers in frames on the table, with teasers about the book and even reviews. It looked well and good and…cheesy. At multiple-author events, the authors who got the most attention (and often the most sales) had a LARGE presence in the form of a banner.

Banners are great for signings, readings, and trade shows. The problem is that many authors have multiple books they need to promote, though seldom all at the same time. They might have a signing for their YA novel tomorrow, then a reading for their sci fi opus on Sunday, and have a table set up at World Fantasy Convention next week. You want your banner to promote your product, but that’s three products, which makes for three banners. Banners aren’t cheap. The stands can be reused, but a banner for each book gets prohibitively expensive.

My solution? An adaptable, multi-use banner.

STEP ONE: Design a banner that covers as many of your bases as possible, without using any specific titles. This is the hardest step. Many of you will want to get your banner professionally designed. I have a background in graphics, so I did my own.

My author banner. 30" x 72"

My author banner. 30″ x 72″

Here’s mine. It’s 30″ x 72″. I’ve cropped off the bottom because it’s not important right now. If you can’t read what it says, here it is:

“Timothy Reynolds. Spinner of Tales, Fabricator of Fictions, Twister of History. ‘Canada’s Modern-Day Aesop’ ~ Barbara Budd, CBC Radio.

That’s my name, a catchy/cute way of saying what I do, and the best promo quote I have. It also has my author photo, a moon with a bloody screaming face, and a generic city scape at night…to add atmosphere. Much of what I write has a dark element to it, so this is not a light and fluffy smiles-and-puppies banner.

There’s no publisher name at all. Not even my own company. Why? Because if I put Cometcatcher Press on it, then I can’t use it when I’m promoting “When Anastasia Laughs”, which will be published by Tyche Books in 2016, or “Tesseracts Seventeen” from Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing, which contains my short story “Why Pete?”.

FoamCoreMounting

Covers as photographs mounted on foam core and laminated.

STEP TWO: Have your cover(s) reproduced as photographs, mounted on foam core and laminated for protection. Almost every film lab can do this for you. I use Western Canada’s best: London Drugs.

I had all four covers done as 5x7s. Why? Because 5x7s are lighter than 8x10s and will remain in place better.

MagneticTape

Magnetic Tape

STEP THREE: You will need magnetic tape. It’s available at Michael’s Arts & Crafts and 10′ costs less than $5. Cut two 5″ strips for each cover. Because the strips will maintain their shape from when they were on the roll, take the strips and place them on a flat surface, under a heavy weight, overnight. Once they are flat, they are ready to use.

A cover and the magnetic strips.

A cover and the magnetic strips.

STEP FOUR: Working on a clean surface, place a cover face down. Peel the backing off of the magnetic tape, and place two strips firmly on the back of the cover, centred left-to-right and down a bit from the top.

Peeling Magnet Paper Off

Peeling Magnet Paper Off

Place the magnetic tape on the back of the cover. Press firmly.

Place the magnetic tape on the back of the cover. Press firmly.

STEP FIVE: While the banner is hanging, place the cover where you want it to be, then place the second magnetic strip on the back of the banner, directly opposite the strip on the cover.

Magnetic strips in place on the back of the banner, holding the cover in place.

Magnetic strips in place on the back of the banner, holding the cover in place.

When it’s all done, you have a banner with one (or in this case, two) covers on display. You can do the same with the publisher’s logo and even a sign with the times you will be present. Other possibilities include: “Coming Soon”, “New York Times Bestseller”, or whatever your heart desires. Reviews, quotes, anything. All I suggest is to not overload the banner.

Two light-weight but sturdy covers magnetically attached to a banner.

Two light-weight but sturdy covers magnetically attached to a banner.

The foam core is very light weight, as is the magnetic tape. I had considered using adhesive Velcro, but then the banner couldn’t be rolled up smoothly. This method with the magnets allows complete removal of the artwork and for the banner to be rolled and stored indefinitely without damage being done to its surface or shape. For a stronger attachment, put magnetic tape near the bottom of the cover as well.

(NOTE: I’m still not sold on the white borders I put on the covers, but with a sharp blade I can remove them easily.)

STEP SIX: Get yourself a 6×8 Rubbermaid lunch box for storing the covers, a hard plastic tube for the banner, and you’re all set for your next signing.

MATERIALS: Magnetic Tape: $5. Banner on heavy outdoor vinyl: $63 & Stand (includes carrying bag): $40 (both from Vistaprint), Plastic banner tube $21 from a local Digital Post store. BTW, VistaPrint is always having sales, so set up an account, do the design work, and wait. They will send you an email shortly with the latest sale. You can save anywhere from $10 to 33% of your entire order. Their online design & preview kicks ass, too.

Note: in some of the photos above you can see what look like creases on the banner. It was damaged in shipping. I called VistaPrint and explained the situation. Without seeing photos or getting witness statements, they immediately ordered a new one and it was shipped out the next day. It should arrive here next week. Their customer service is second-to-none.

I hope this gives you some ideas and inspires you to get out there and promote your writing with a professional presence. Other things to help are bookmarks with the cover, where to buy it, and your website URL. If you don’t have your own website…GET ONE!

That’s it, that’s all.

Ciao for now,

T-Bone.

Easter Quicky

Posted in love it or leave it, My Opinion with tags , , , on April 8, 2015 by tgmreynolds

Being Christian, I have a problem with the phrase, “Happy Easter“. I find that the bunnies, spring, and chocolate part are fun and more universal, but I find that from the Crucifixion to the Resurrection, there’s nothing to be HAPPY about during the weekend.

For me it’s a time of reflection about what I can do better, what has been sacrificed for me, and what I can sacrifice for others. Big stuff, small stuff, all stuff.

Rejoicing that He has risen is not the same as being happy. We should be deeply saddened that it had to be done. This wasn’t a weekend whim by a bored God. As I support the ‘myth’, I am humbled, saddened, and ashamed.

Like Palm Sunday and Shrove Tuesday, I think the bunnies and chocolate part of the weekend should be near but not ON the weekend.

If you don’t celebrate the Christian Easter (no matter what you think its origin truly is), that’s okay. This is just my own rambling on a subject personal to me.

Ciao for now.

T-Bone

And Then the Work Paid Off! A Novel Sold!

Posted in Books, Books Books Books, My Opinion, love it or leave it, Novel Process, The Novel Itself, The Novel Process, Writing with tags , , , , , , , on November 23, 2014 by tgmreynolds

It is with great pleasure that I announce the acquisition of my somewhat romantic paranormal novel, “Waking Anastasia”, by Tyche Books of Calgary, for release in 2016.

For me this is a monumentous event, as it confirms that what I think of as a delightful story about life, death, and dying is shared by someone who isn’t a family member.

So what is “Waking Anastasia” about? Well, here’s the pitch that got the manuscript read in the first place:

Why should being murdered keep Anastasia Romanova from living it up a little? She’s just a ghost, floating in front of a boy, wanting to be loved.

When Jerry Powell inherits a torn, bloodstained book of poetry he has no idea that it contains the soul of Anastasia Romanova. But when he accidentally awakens the royal ghost, he discovers that death hasn’t dulled her sense of mischief and joy for life whatsoever. Now he just has to keep up with her while dealing with a new job, a new city, and the possibility of a brain tumour.

“Waking Anastsia” is a humour-filled, paranormal, love story pitting a dying radio station manager soured on love and women against the ever-optimistic, century-dead teenaged Grand Duchess.

romanov-women-anastasia-romanov-18577625-692-401

Alexandra Romanova and her four daughters, including Anastasia, second from the right.

I will be blogging much more later on about how the story started as a dream, became a screenplay, and then morphed into a novel. There will be all sorts of stuff about the research to bring Anastasia to life “as never before” as one critiquer has said, as well as where the history and the fiction blend.

Film rights are still available, so hurry. 2018 is the 100th anniversary of Anastasia’s murder.🙂

That’s it, that’s all. Watch this page for further details in the months to come.

Thank you for all of your support. For a complete list of my currently available stories, check out my Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003KCV338.

Ciao for now,

Tim.

www.tgmreynolds.com

The Broken Shield for KOBO!

Posted in My Opinion, love it or leave it on November 22, 2014 by tgmreynolds

Yes indeed do, my earth-shaking (literally) urban fantasy e-novel, The Broken Shield, is now available for Kobo. Check it out at Kobobooks.com, where it has reached as high as #34 in Contemporary Fantasy.

Phoenix

Phoenix

This is a special announcement, because the book was written about and for a very special girl, Phoenix. Yes, to you who never met her, Phoenix was just a dog, but for those who met her and felt her energy wrap around your heart, she was something special. Unfortunately, four weeks ago Phoenix’ heart trouble resurfaced in a major way and she told us that it was time to let her go. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but it had to be done.

The Broken Shield

The Broken Shield, by Timothy Reynolds

I will dedicate an entire blog or two to life with Phoenix (and the pain of life without her), but suffice it to say, heart and soul, she’s a big part of The Broken Shield, and my life was all the better for having had her in it.

That’s it, that’s all.

Ciao for now.

T-Bone

www.tgmreynolds.com