New Duck Boy cover!

Sadly, I’ve been so busy this last while that I haven’t had the chance to announce another project underway: a new Duck Boy cover! The publisher engaged Jeff Delierre again. He was the artist who created the “Kill Shot” cover. With a little bit of back and forth, he came up with this:


Pretty hot, eh! I love it. Thank you, Jeff.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Duck Boy’s on sale!

Yes, the e-version of the story is on sale for 99 cents from August 4 to 14! ( The Kindle edition has a special bonus, too. For those who buy the Kindle edition, you also get the chance to vote on the new cover art for the story.

Posted in 99 cents, bitingduck, bitingduck press, duck boy, duck boy sale, duckboy, fiction, Uncategorized, Young Adult | Leave a comment

Cover art: judging a book by its cover.

A few weeks back Bitingduck Press engaged an artist, Jeff Delierre ( , to prepare the cover artwork for Kill Shot, my upcoming YA novel (Spring 2015). I happened to be working on another round of edits as this is occurring.

He sent these sketches:


Of the five, number 4 best suited the story.

Jeff followed up his black and white sketches with a color mock up. It’s awesome. The publisher, Jay Nadeau owner of Bitingduck Press, and suggested a few changes. I’m not going to tell you what they are, but if you compare images, you will see them.


This was last week’s drawing:


Does it make you want to read the book?


Posted in fiction, Writing process, Young Adult | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The “My Writing Process” blog tour.

I’m hunkered on my spot on the couch, my creative place. It’s a brown leather loveseat, I’m on the left cushion, on the right is a stack of books I’m reading, including a book my main character finds in my latest story. A pile of paper. DVDs. Scraps. On my left, is a coffee table. It too is covered in work stuff.

I was sitting in this spot, working, when illustrator Val Lawton ( sent me a note to ask if I’d participate in the “My Writing Process” blog tour. Sure, I wrote back. Who wouldn’t?

Val Lawton is an illustrator extraordinaire, with several picture book projects on the go. We met again this year at the Calgary Young Writers Conference, where we both offered workshops on our respective fields.

On my hard drive, at the moment, are two things that require my effort. First, is a draft of a young adult novel, due for release in Spring 2015: Kill Shot. It’s in decent shape. It’s had a first go through by Bitingduck Press’s editor. In a purple folder, under my coffee table, lurks another full manuscript of revisions, which I need to address. I might be able to start that today.

The cover art is being done, as we speak. I’ve discussed it in another blog post:

I’ve been writing a new YA story, which is yet unnamed. I’ve finished a rough draft, last week, and this week have begun to go through and sort out the story and deal with its many warts and blemishes. I had a breakthrough last week. I got the story’s opening line, and some of the premise that will help me sort out this dog’s breakfast.

To be honest, I don’t know exactly why I write. Michael Paul Michaud ( posted a George Orwell quote last week that fits: “All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery.” There’s more than a little truth in this.

I’m attracted to stories loaded with mystery. I’m attracted to main characters who are down on their luck, and need to find a gritty way to succeed on their own terms. Why? I’ve always blamed my horrible junior high experience for these tendencies. I’ve also had a few too many head injuries.

My post is in response to Val’s request. Next week, on the 19th, Mike’s post will go up on his Facebook page ( He’ll tag one or two authors in his post, too.

Let me introduce Mike properly. Here’s what he looks like.


Happy-looking, don’t you think? He’s a crown prosecutor who has written and is about to publish his first young adult novel: Billy Tabbs (& the Glorious Darrow), which will be out November 1, 2014. Here’s what the cover looks like:

Billy TabbsHere’s a blurb on his story: Billy Tabbs has been living in the streets for as long as he can remember. He’s recruited into a bizarre homeless sect living in the underbelly of high society. Here he meets Darrow — the mysterious and volatile leader of an organization committed to escalating acts of civil disobedience.

Equal parts harrowing, controversial, and humorous, Billy Tabbs explores decadence, homelessness, and the lack of compassion exhibited toward society’s most vulnerable.

Posted in advice, fiction, Writing advice, Writing process, Young Adult | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On the writing of a fantasy versus realistic historical fiction

Duck Boy is an urban fantasy. The writing of that book was difficult because one had to figure out a logic to the world that the main character inhabits and make sure it all worked, and all made sense. In this sort of novel one has to think through plot decisions to a large degree. A large part of the mental effort of a book like this comes from this sort of thinking.

But this book also required a great deal of research. I don’t know if the reader can tell that the text uses a lot of information from the alchemical tradition and its history. That was a lot of reading, too, I can tell you.

The book on the way, Kill Shot, is a work of historical fiction. Of course, it uses a ton of research, too. But, it was easier to work with the information. The story simply had to follow the historical outline I imported into the story. It was a much faster write. The plot was simply less complex, probably because it didn’t involve the fantasy element.

This is my emotional recollection of both experiences. What is your sense of the difference?

Posted in advice, fiction, Writing advice, Writing process, Young Adult | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Art of Cover Art

When a book moves through the process, the publisher usually begins to work up some cover art with the help of an artist. The cover is a big deal, a bigger deal than ever before, I think. There’s so much to read and choose from, a reader is forced to judge a book by its cover.

So the whole story has to be on the cover. Not the whole story, but the heart of the story, in picture form. It can’t tell the ending, but is sort of a concentrate of the feeling and plot.

So a little while ago the publisher commissioned artist Jeff Delierre to do the cover art of Kill Shot, due out in the Spring of 2015. We corresponded a little and I sent him a short blurb on the book and the three of us have begun to work together.

Last week, artist Jeff sent five brief sketches based on the plot outline. Here they are:


I’m not going to tell you what the story’s about, just yet. I’m looking at gut grabbing mystery, and the overall feeling each image creates. I’d love to know which of these grabs you.

Posted in fiction, Uncategorized, Writing process, Young Adult | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Don’t fear the black crayon

One of my beta-readers offered an interesting criticism: My character’s stifled emotion in certain situations, like when he’s angry. His natural responses were muted. I had clipped the ugly moments of the new story. I’m afraid to use the black crayon.

I told him about a few readers’ criticism of my first YA novel, Duck Boy. Some called it demonic. They didn’t like the darkness. Too much black crayon. The book was far too dark for their liking.

I’m reluctant to use the black crayon because I come from a conservative Christian background. I still am a part of that scene. The bad side of faith leads me to force characters to do what they “should” do (it’s the same impulse as the religious right in the U.S.).  As an author, I have the inside info on all my characters. More info than Edward Snowden would dream about. With this info, I’m tempted to intervene (much like the NSA). Correct. Edit. Revise. Manipulate. My upbringing and morality wants to insert itself into the story. I want to leave the black crayon in the box.

It’s one of those interesting situations where some would say faith and art clash (though I don’t think they do). I know art must be art. That story only works as a democracy. I must  give the characters freedom to do what they need to do, behave the way they want to behave, and let the thing end as it will. My job is to set things in motion and follow the action. The story and its characters call for more black crayon, which I’m going to have to fix.

Posted in fiction, Uncategorized, Writing advice, Writing process, Young Adult | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Duck Boy’s pond scene happens in real life!

The pond scene in Duck Boy was based on a news story from some years ago. Here’s the same event happening again, with geese.

Link | Posted on by | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

It’s writing season again.

Like many around me, my life moves in seasons. There seems to be a cycle to my creative urges. Though I can always squeeze a sentence or two out, I find the Spring run, from Christmas to June my most creative of the year. I’m not sure why. It might be related to my schedule, which is a little more friendly during that time. It might be the fact that Spring is my favourite time of year. I’d love to know if others of you have found the same trend is part of your writing cycle.

I’m still in the beta-reading phase of my next YA novel, Coup de Grace (working title), scheduled for release in Spring 2015 (Bitingduck Press). There’ll be some of that editing work sprinkled through the hours of the next few months, but my focus is a couple of writing projects I want to finish.

Consequently, it’s time to get things started again. To warm up this week, I’m working on an essay. Just a page a day. A page a day over Christmas week, because I want to concentrate on eating Christmas baking. Then, back to two pages a day.

I will apologize in advance for the annoying repetition of my tweets over the next few months. They will all say essentially the same thing: two pages. I tweet these things over and over again for two reasons. One, I don’t want to tweet pictures of my breakfast. Two, in some weird way it helps hold me accountable. It forces me to think deliberately about my choice to write daily.

Here we go, again. It’ll be a good thing, right?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Beta-reader phase

Editing image


“Coup de Grace”, the title of my new novel (Spring 2015) is now in the beta reader phase. I’ve had a couple of good critical reads thus far. I’m collecting the suggestions and integrating them as I go. It’s been a little tough given how much life intrudes at times. However, we’re moving right along.

Here’s where the book is in the process: I wrote a crappy first draft. I got my first beta reader to look at it and I critiqued it half to death and rewrote the draft. I sent it to the publisher who accepted it for publication for Spring 2015 (Yeah, Bitingduck Press). They did a first read and sent me changes, which I’ve integrated. I went through the book again, and tightened and cut.

Now I’ve got a couple of beta-readers looking at it. I’ve got a couple of others lined up. They’re all helping me look for flat spots and terrible writing. Then, I’ll get a round of edits back from Bitingduck’s story editor. Once this is done, the story should be in pretty good shape, don’t you think?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments