Archive for the My Opinion, love it or leave it Category

Mostly about Beta Readers

Posted in Books, My Opinion, love it or leave it, Novel Process, The Novel Itself, The Novel Process, Writing with tags , , , , , on April 8, 2018 by tgmreynolds

I had hoped for a big weekend of writing but decided that naps were important, too. I managed to clear the 70,000-word hurdle, with 5 days left to reach 80,000, though. Yah. No problemo.

One of the harder parts of writing the first draft of a mystery novel is fighting the temptation to go back and forth to make sure all of the clues tie into each other and make sense. I’m trying to write the first draft straight through, and will use the first full reading to tear it all apart and fix the links and leads and herrings, both red and green.

Many writers find themselves working on one manuscript for many years because they can’t write forward when there’s fine tuning to be done. I won’t say that any one method is better than another, because each writer must walk their own path, but for ME, I am pushing to write the first draft hard and fast. The second draft will take almost as long, as I tighten it all up. Then it will go to beta readers (who are already picked, thanks), who then take a shot at tearing it apart and showing me what doesn’t work where or make sense at all. MY beta readers don’t get to read and say “That was nice. Thank you.” They get to beat the manuscript into a bloody pulp so that it can rise again like Wolverine, stronger and ready for battle.

IMG_2685.jpgBut again, that’s specific to me. If you’re ever asked to be a beta reader, please ask the writer what kind of critique he or she wants. Not everyone wants a full out attack on their darling manuscript. I do. That’s how I improve. That’s also why I am very picky about who I get to beta read my work. We need to be on the same wavelength. Even a dear friend can be on a different wavelength. Also, some beta readers are all about showing the writer how smart they are, when the only real goal is to make the story better, tighter, more vibrant.

The other key thing about the writer/beta-reader relationship is that the reader has to be willing to happily accept when the writer doesn’t take their advice. Sometimes the writer has a deeper cause they’re working toward, and suggested changes just don’t work.

This is not the same as the writer/editor/publisher relationship, though. If a writer has signed a contract and the publisher’s editor has said “You need to do ‘A'”, it behooves the writer to either do ‘A’, or to clearly explain why they they can’t. It’s a relationship, and the editor has to trust the writer’s vision, while the writer must trust the editors experience.

And that is my short, one-paragraph summary of the weekend’s writing.

Ciao for now,



Stop Believing in Soul Mates

Posted in My Opinion, love it or leave it with tags , , , on March 23, 2018 by tgmreynolds

In the News this week: A boy murdered a girl because they broke up with him. Then he died from a gunshot wound. While we’re pointing fingers at his father for owning the gun, or the mental health industry for not seeing whatever they didn’t see, or the gun lobby for being the gun lobby, let’s also take a damned close look at the entertainment industry.

For a start, over the next few days listen closely to the lyrics of your music, and ask yourself how many of them talk about “ownership” or “heartbreak” or “no one else for me”. From John Lennon’s “Woman”, to every country song that’s not about drinking or a truck.

See, here’s the thing. There are some amazing relationships out there, but none…NONE…of them are more important than the individuals within the relationships. That’s not how we’ve been raised, though. From music to movies to television, even to books, we’ve been taught about “soul mates” and “split-apart hearts” and “perfect mates”, and it’s all BULLSHIT.

LOVE isn’t bullshit, what’s bullshit is that there’s only one truly great love in a person’s life, that without that person, we are incomplete, worthless. Of course, when we lose a great love our hearts break and we feel less than we were with them. We feel incomplete. That’s natural and the big risk of falling in love. The whole was greater than the parts…but the removal of one part does not negate the remaining parts!

Stop waiting for your soul mate.The great myth is that life is over when that love leaves. It’s not. It might feel like it. It might hurt like hell, especially if the two hearts were intertwined in all the best ways, but the cool thing about humans is that we’re resilient. We survive. We can even bounce back.

But we train our children from a young age that life begins and ends with finding a mate. Maybe you didn’t do this to your children directly, but the movies, the books, the shows you shared with them, did. No date for the prom? You’re a loser. A virgin at 20, you must be ugly and worthless. Not married by 25, you must be gay or a freak or both.

Even our language indicates that a relationship equals ownership. “She is MY…” “He is MY…” “I HAVE a…”

I’m not pointing a finger at anyone else without pointing one at myself, too. I’m the biggest romantic on the planet. Just read my stories. But I also know that for every time my heart was torn out of my chest, it found its way back home, eventually.

I’m not saying we need to stop writing/producing/singing love stories, we just need to teach our children that life doesn’t begin and end with one other person, so that they grow up with a healthy attitude toward relationships.

Finally, to all my friends who have lost their spouse, their partner for life… I send sincere hugs. Your pain is real and valid and sometimes bigger than you are…but it is not more IMPORTANT than you are.

My rant is done. Hug your loved ones. And if you don’t have any loved ones, hug yourself…because your value is just as great.

Ciao for now.


T’is the Season

Posted in My Opinion, love it or leave it on December 24, 2016 by tgmreynolds

Christmas isn’t always an easy time of year for many people. I have been spoiled. For eight years THIS place was my home. Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (at the time, Canadian Pacific Hotels & Resorts). 

Christmas was spent with hundreds of friends, surrounded by more a thousand or more guests, in the land of a million Christmas trees. 

Chateau Lake Louise

Winter at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, with the Ice Castle. Lake Louise, AB.

The castle in the foreground is made of ice, and it sits on the frozen glacial lake, which is 273′ deep and 5680′ above sea level. For two winters one of my jobs was to make hot chocolate and take it by toboggan out to the rink where I would start a fire in the elevated 1/2 barrel and simply chat with the guests as they skated or walked by.One winter we looked up in the sky and could see Comet Hayakutake quite clearly. Occasionally avalanches could be heard rumbling in the dark in the distance.

Christmas celebrations began in November, when the seniors started coming up for lunches and corporations started having their Christmas parties. Santa was invited to each and every one of those events, and I was lucky enough to be one of the Jolly Man’s stunt doubles. One year, during the Women’s World Cup Downhill I stepped in for him and represented him for the numbered bib distribution, and even was featured on Italian sports television. Fortunately “Ho Ho Ho!” is fairly universal.

On Christmas Eve the hotel put on a live animal nativity scene, outdoors, usually in -20 to -30c weather. I often played Joseph.

The hotel was decorated with Christmas trees and garlands for a month and to say that we “got into the spirit” would be an understatement. Not all of the staff loved it or even liked it, but for me, so far from home, those people were my other family. Too many of them are gone, now… Shenette, Tracy, Tim and Carolyn, Randy… but when Christmas is quiet around here, it is the warm memories of this place, those years, and so many friends that fill my house with joy.

Merry Christmas to so many of you who were part of those wonderful times and are still dear friends, and Merry Christmas to absolutely everyone, because Christmas is about Peace and Hope and Love, and who wouldn’t wish more of that for everyone.

Travel wisely, my friends and family, because I want you all to be around next year so I can bore you with the story again. 🙂

Ciao for now.


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.


“Waking Anastasia” is available in print or eBook format from or




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).

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.


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:

Ciao for now,


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, where it has reached as high as #34 in Contemporary Fantasy.



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.