Book Launch — August 20th @ 7 p.m. @ Owl’s Nest Bookstore

Well, it’s fast approaching. In fact, it’s next week! You’re welcome to join me and a few other summer souls to launch “Kill Shot.” Hope to see you there!

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Kill Shot — Extras

If you’re interested in a few extras to do with the story, this is your page. I’ve got a few things I depended on to create Kill Shot, and a few other things that I found interesting. Most of it has to do with u-boats, u-boat life, and other related matters.

The news story that inspired it all, and some extra u-boat/sub stories

Kill Shot is going to be released May, 2015. To celebrate its release and to provide some background, I’ll post a few background items here, beginning with the news story which began the whole idea in my mind:

The entire Kill Shot plot grows out of this news story. Since that time, there have been several related stories involving old submarines or u-boats:

Then, of course, the recent discovery of a submarine from the American Civil War, the H.L. Hunley:

A German u-boat found in the Gulf of Mexico:

One of the most helpful resources out there is a site called One of the problems of writing a convincing u-boat story is that it’s difficult to imagine being on one. Uboataces puts out a bunch of documentary material to do with u-boats and their role in World War II. Excellent material here. I purchased a DVD with a photographic and virtual tour of a German Class VIIC u-boat. I’ve posted a couple of images from the DVD with Uboataces’ permission.

The first is a labelled schematic which points out the names of things, which were important to me writing the story.


This is an outside shot of VIIC class u-boat on display in Germany:


One last image: this is a shot of the “driver’s seat” of a u-boat, the place where the helmsman and planesman sat to guide the u-boat:


Anyhow, this DVD allowed me to more fully imagine life aboard a German u-boat.

Another site that I visited frequently was This site documents the specific boats, officers and crew of each German u-boat. It helped me locate a probable crew, boat, and situation to involve in my story. There are pictures of the commanding officers, mission routes and all sorts of things, here. Check out U-132. You’ll see I use some of what I found here.

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“Kill Shot” is in my hands!

Officially, Kill Shot comes out in May. Yet, I have a pre-press version of Kill Shot in my hands. I was helping promote the book and Bitingduck Press at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, held this past weekend (April 18 & 19, 2015). Bitingduck editor Jay Nadeau had some pre-press copies made and brought them to the event! What a lovely surprise!


Pretty sweet, eh?

Kill Shot was inspired by the 2012 sonar discovery of a vessel with the dimensions of a WWII-era German U-boat–the submarine was detected a hundred kilometers from the ocean, in the Canadian province of Labrador. More than a dozen U-boats remain unaccounted for, the fate of their crews unknown. Fully fictional, the story switches between the events of the war that led the German crew to submerge and eventually die in the river, and the adventures of a young man finding the boat over seventy years later.

Wednesday Smythe is a pimply 14-year-old high school freshman whose parents died when he was too young to remember them. Shuttling between foster care and a group home, he finds himself in a rural trailer with a hair-cutting entrepreneur for a mother and an unemployed father who pawns the foster kids’ goods to pay for fancy shampoos. Without phone, Gameboy, or iPad, Wednesday is forced by boredom into long walks along the river, where the discovery occurs that will change his life.

Wednesday’s first friend at his new home, a girl called “Stump,” has been raised by her reclusive homeschooling father with almost no social contact. She can’t use a phone, but she can wield a chainsaw. Wednesday’s other friend, Wally, is embittered and angry in foster care, lashing out in ways that threaten Wednesday’s growing rapport with his new family. All three are drawn together in a fast-paced adventure pitting their wits against the bad guys who want the boat to stay hidden, and the cops who want to bust them for any number of nefarious deeds.

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U-boat Food

Food Supplies and Planning

Food for the u-boat crew was a bit of a trick. There wasn’t much room for storage and there was no refrigeration.

Check out an excellent article on food supplies and planning:

Sample Weekly Menu Plan

I was able to locate a menu plan for a German U-boat U-510. This material was posted to U-boat missions were often 12 weeks long. This menu plan is for the second to last week at sea.

Menu for the week from 15-21.8.1943 (eleventh week in sea)


morning: chocolate, honey, biscuits, butter
noon: tomatoe-soup, yellow boletus, potatoes, roast veal, fruits
evening: sausage, camenbert, bread,butter, tea


morning: bred, butter, jam, milk-soup
noon: read cabbage, roast-porc, potatoes, soup
evening:liver-sausage, pork, bread, lard, tea, sour-krout


morning: bread, butter jam, coffee
noon: rice, chicken, pudding
evening: maccaroni, goulasch, tee


morning: bread, butter, jam, coffee
noon: cauliflower, veal, potatoes
evening: tunny, sausage, bread, butter, tea,


morning: bread, butter, jam, milk-soup
noon: sour-krout, hip-bone, potatoes, soup, cranberries
evening: green cabbage, fried-potatoes, beef, tea


morning: bred, butter, jam, milk-soup, coffee
noon: brussels cabbage, tongue, potatoes, soup, pumpkin
evening:herring, scrambled eggs, lard, bread, butter, tea


morning: bred, butter, jam, tea
noon: bean-soup, pudding
evening: tube-cheese, black-pudding, tea, bred, butter


German u-boat recipes are hard to find.

However, The Cook Book of the United States Navy is available on line. This cookbook was revised in 1945, but contains many of the recipes that were used during World War II.

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The goal of two pages a day.

The goal of two pages a day (or 500 words) is to crank out a draft of a novel in 6 months or so. My aim: a crappy first draft. A crappy first draft means the two pages do not have to be pretty. They don’t have to fit perfectly. They don’t need to be well worded. The dialogue can be awkward. The punctuation and spelling can be off. The order of events can be wrong. You get the idea: it doesn’t have to be good … yet. Why? Revision is nine-tenths of good writing. So, one really needs to begin with something that requires revision. That’s why I write two pages a day. I’m creating a draft that can be revised later. Just so you know.


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“Two pages a day” starts again!

Yesterday (January 2, 2015) was my first day of my two-pages-a-day regime. The goal is to write two pages (500 words) a day, six days a week, from January to June-ish. The last two years I’ve used this approach, I get most of a first draft done on a new story in six months. Thus, I’ll be tweeting “two pages” six days a week. You’re welcome to join me, if you like.

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“Kill Shot” is up on Netgalley!

Kill Shot‘s season for advance reviews is here. The story is mounted on Netgalley and open for comment. Bitingduck Press included this story to go with the release. I’m looking forward to the suggestions on how to improve the story! Go, reviewers, go!Google+

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“Kill Shot” is typeset!

We’re getting closer. The publisher sent along a typeset version of Kill Shot over the weekend. It’s lovely to see the finished look of the page, the dingbats and font, that sort of thing. Bitingduck Press did a lovely job. Now the text goes up for a preview on Netgalley!

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Bookies unite (for an evening in Edmonton)

Here’s the group that turned out for the Smorgasbook event hosted by the Young Alberta Book Society (YABS).

‘Twas an excellent night talking with librarians, teachers, and civilians! Than you, YABS! Thank you to author Natasha Deen for the photo!


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Smorgasbook! A Buffet of Youth Literature

I’m excited to attend this event along with the great Albertan YA writers!

Join the young Alberta Book Society for a showcase of ten new children’s and YA books by Albertan authors.

November 12, 2014

Book sales start at 6:30, the showcase presentation starts at 7pm.

Whitemud Crossing Library Theatre, 4211-106 St. NW Edmonton

Attendance is free. Donations gratefully accepted at the door.

Marty Chan, Natasha Deen, Carolyn Fisher, Joan Galat, Georgia Graham, Larry Loyie, Lorna Schultz Nicholson, Diane Mae Robinson, Jim Sellers, and Karen Spafford-Fitz will be presenting their new works. Copies will be available for sale.

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