Due to the pandemic, I'm really going to miss the opportunity to tour across Western Canada doing author visits, but that doesn't mean I can't visit your school. I'm happy to announce that I'll be doing virtual author visits via the digital platform of your choice. The good news is, that also allows me to expand my reach well beyond Western Canada. If you're interesting in having me broadcast my smiling face to your classroom, just contact me, and we can work out the pricing and logistics.
The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix and the Regina Leader Post just published a short article I wrote about Snowbound! and Randolph the Yellow Snowman. You can read it here.
While the pandemic has been great for book sales, it's really cramping my style when it comes to doing author visits and writing workshops at schools, which I have done throughout Western Canada over the last five years. I'd say such things are virtually impossible right now, but "virtually" could be the only way I'll be able to do it. It's not nearly the same as spending a day at a school and interacting with hundreds of students face-to-face, but I want to at least make myself available online, so look for an update soon on how this will look. I'm thinking of a combination of live events on Zoom or a similar platform as well as short lectures on different aspects of story development that I can record and then upload to YouTube, making them available for schools as a bonus for ordering my books. If you're a teacher, and there's some specific content you'd like to see to help your creative writing and/or language arts program, just let me know.
I have a "light horror" novel for teens (think Stranger Things) called Pumpkins that I've been planning to write for a couple of years, and I'm finally ready to pull the trigger. To help prime the pump and inspire me to keep going, it's always fun to see what the finished novel will look like. So, I spent a bit of time coming up with a new design. Check it out here, which will also allow you to read the first chapter.
Snowbound!, book 5 in the Milligan Creek Series is now officially available for purchase in paperback and Kindle format on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and every other kind of Amazon. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, I've been unable to get copies to sell directly on my website, although you can buy the Kindle version here. With snow already falling in many parts of North America, this is the perfect time to read this winter-themed story, which takes place the week before Valentine's Day. I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, be sure to spread the word by reviewing it on Amazon, Goodreads, or simply telling people you know!
Sometimes you don't want to see how the sausage gets made, but when it comes to book covers, I think it's fun to see an idea unfold and then progress toward the finished product.
In this case, the book cover was for a new children's picture book that I'm bringing out shortly. (Shameless plug: It's winter-themed and will make a great Christmas present!) Usually, it's me drawing some sort of terrible sketch that my artist is somehow able to magically interpret into something fantastic. However, this time I didn't have any strong ideas for the cover, so I threw it open to my artist, Hannah Doerksen. She wanted to use the following Robert Munsch cover for inspiration.
I thought this was a great idea seeing as it sells the reaction to something rather than the thing to which the characters are reacting, which is exactly what I wanted for my book. So, rather than me creating the rough sketch, this time Hannah drew up something that I had to interpret. She mainly wanted to know which character to feature as the primary focus, so this is what she texted me prior to embarking on the actual drawing.
For reasons that will become obvious shortly, I went with the image on the right. Over the weekend, Hannah continued to refine the cover. Here's her second draft.
I gave her a bit of feedback, and then she proceeded to a full ink drawing.
It was at this point I realized there were no women on the cover, so she made a small revision and then began coloring.
From there it was just a matter of some texturing and details. Then it was up to me to figure out what the title and credits would look like. This is what I came up with.
I'm very pleased with the result. All the files have been submitted, and I'm now awaiting a proof. I can't wait to unleash this book on the world!
I've kept this project a bit on the down low, but it's in the final stages and should be available later this month. All I'll say for now is that it's a Christmas-themed book, and the title may shock you! Here's a sneak peek at a piece of artwork.
Whoo-hoo! I FINALLY finished my first draft of "Snowbound," book 5 in the Milligan Creek Series. It's actually more than a first draft, seeing as I've already closely edited all but the last few chapters. It's also about 20 percent longer than my longest Milligan Creek book to date. Not sure what that means, but I'm running with it. What a sense of relief. Every time I start a new book or film, I'm always nagged by a voice in the back of my mind that says this time I won't be able to finish it. So far, that voice has been wrong. If all goes well, "Snowbound" will be available in November. Meanwhile, I've also solidified the plot for book 6, which will bring my love of filmmaking into the world of Milligan Creek. Here's a quick synopsis:
To celebrate their purchase of the old movie theater in Milligan Creek, the new owners launch a short film contest, complete with cash prizes and a chance to have the winning films screened at the theater’s grand reopening. When word leaks out that a real Hollywood movie will be filming nearby, Matt and Chad Taylor and their best friends Andrew and Dean concoct an outrageous plan to make their short film the most spectacular of all by secretly taking advantage of everything the big-budget production has to offer, but only if they can pull it off without getting caught!
After being snowed under with work pretty much ever since the pandemic started, which prevented me from continuing my work on Snowbound, book five in the Milligan Creek Series, I finally booked some time off starting last Wednesday and committed to writing 1,200-1,500 words per day on the manuscript while also trying to have some vacation time with my family.
So far, I've stuck to it, getting up early to write for a couple of hours each morning for the past eight days. The good news is, I think I'm about about four to five days away from completing a very solid first draft (I'm the kind of writer who tends to re-read and revise as I go). Kierston is also hard at work creating the cover illustration, in between delivering groceries to people who are at high risk from the pandemic. If all goes according to plan, the book will be ready to go by the end of September. It's been a lot of fun to write, and I can't wait to unleash it on the world. Stay tuned for more updates!
It's been WAY too long since I've posted something about the fifth book in the Milligan Creek Series, Snowbound. I'm happy to say that despite some pandemic-related delays, things are going strong, and I'm about halfway through the first draft with a good head of steam behind me. I had been hoping to complete the first draft by the end of June, but it looks more likely that I'll be able to wrap things up by mid-July. Every time I make a prediction like that, something seems to get in the way, but despite a mountain of other work, I'm still carving out time to work on it each day. I'm taking a page out of Stephen King's book and writing on is seven days a week.
The good news is, all sorts of new and unexpected developments are happening with the story, many of which are making me laugh, which is a great sign. If I'm surprised by what's happening, there's a good chance readers will be as well. I'm very encouraged by the strong sales of the first four books on Amazon over the past six months, so I can't wait to get this new book into readers' hands.
In addition, I'm already doing some brainstorming on books six and seven. For the moment, I'll say that one of those books revolves around Milligan Creek's movie theater, and the other one involves a mystery that's centred around some old, abandoned farmhouses around the community.
That's it for now. Back to Snowbound . . .
Brief thoughts and updates on writing, publishing, and life