After making some minor revisions following my beta readers' input, I just finished typesetting Pumpkins, book 1 in the Uncanny Icons series. It's a completely new design that has a classic feel, and I can't stop looking at it! Now to do a final round of proofreading before sending it off to my advance review team. I love this stage!
You never know where--or when--inspiraction will strike. In this case it happened late one night when I was listening to a podcast, which I often do in the middle of the night due to my ongoing battle with insomnia. (I have no problem falling asleep, but from about 3:00 a.m. on, staying asleep is a challenge. Podcasts help pass the time and also lull me back to sleep--eventually.) One night a podcast had a historical minute inserted as a commercial, and it was about a guy named Windwagon Smith who supposedly invented a wind-powered Conestoga wagon back in the mid-1850s. Seeing as this new novel involves a big Hollywood production coming to film a movie near the town of Milligan Creek, which is located on the Canadian prairies, I thought a film about Windwagon Smith would be a natural fit.
While doing some research today on Smith, I discovered that Walt Disney released their own version of the story back in 1961. You can watch it below. It's pretty terrible, but I'm definitely going to riff on some of these ideas in the book.
I'm already having so much fun on this book. One of the best things about writing fiction is making little discoveries along the way that you never planned but which your characters present to you. In this case, it's one of my characters, Dean Muller, who's a movie buff. Seeing as this book is about movies and making movies, I thought it would be fun to slip as many lines from iconic movies as possible into his dialogue throughout the book. His first line comes from The Empire Strikes Back, which I point out in the narrative. From there on in though it'll be up to readers to identify them on their own. In fact, I think I'll run a contest and give away a prize to whomever can identify them all. Stay tuned!
It's from the Canadian Review of Materials. A brief excerpt:
The only thing that mystifies me is that although the reviewer praised the novel throughout, she only gave it 3/5 stars. Hard to square that rating with the review, but I appreciate the encouraging words as I dive into the first chapter of the next book in the series, Quiet On Set! this week.
To celebrate the book being in print for five years, I decided it was time to do a new cover, so I commissioned Hannah Doerksen, who did such an excellent job on Randolph the Yellow Snowman, to do it for me. Here's what she came up with. New cover soon to be available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.
After completing a solid first draft of Pumpkins, the first book in my new Uncanny Icons horror series for YA readers, on March 29, I was feeling pretty good about it, but I decided to set the book aside and not even think about it much for two weeks, so I could come back to it with fresh eyes. I started on Friday and just finished this morning, and I'm more excited about the book than ever. So, now it's off to my two beta readers.
Once I receive their feedback and make revisions, it's on to typesetting. The cover has been ready for a couple of months. (I keep it open on my desktop as inspiration.) I'll go through the manuscript one more time after that (things always come across differently once the manuscript is in its "final" form), and then it'll be time to print up some copies for my advance review team. It's been a while since I launched an entirely new series, so I am pumped to get this out there. I already have most of the story worked out for Brooms, book two in the series. But before I get going on that, I'm getting started on Quiet On Set!, book 6 in the Milligan Creek series. Meanwhile, I have also "secretly" been pecking away at book 1 in a time travel sci-fi series, so we'll see how and when I can get that out as well.
Seeing as I spend a LOT of time in my office, over the years, I've filled it with all sorts of things I enjoy to make it a fun space to be. Here are a few shots I snapped this morning to give you a sense of what it's like.
It's been 24 years since I last canoed Milligan Creek, right around this time of year. It was one of the voyages that inspired me to write Up the Creek years later. I've always regretted that we didn't have any photos of those trips, but then I realized we did! My mom gave me a photo album for my birthday this year, and to my surprise, included in it was a photo of us right after we set out. I'm in the stern of the second canoe in the photo below. My brother Al is in the bow. The guy in the lead canoe is Nevin Halyk, now the principal of my old high school in Foam Lake. Just out of frame is Victor Loeppky, who made the trip with me the previous year when we hit a dead tree and capsized. Looking down from the bridge is my mom, a.k.a. "Killer Miller."
As I've discussed on this blog, I'm going to be launching a new young adult "light" horror series called the Uncanny Icons series. By light horror, think "Stranger Things." A coming-of-age story within a supernatural setting. I'm looking for a team of readers who would like to receive a signed advance review copy of the first book, "Pumpkins," in either paperback or hardcover, your choice, in exchange for a review on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Goodreads. You can cut and paste the same review on all three sites, so it won't be too onerous to do. I'm planning to release the book in September, but I'm looking to form a team of advance readers now to give you plenty of lead time. If interested, please message me, and I can give you the details.
Brief thoughts and updates on writing, publishing, and life