The Practice

The solo act.

Hello and welcome, reader.

As ever, it’s my pleasure to have you join me.

This month, instead of sharing a narrative work with you, I’ve returned to the essay format. For the students or writers in the crowd, limiting the use of adverbs and adjectives improves the clarity and reading ease of prose while favoring the active voice. Also, to best show the salty turns of my pretzel logic, I’ll use a long form of the expository technique.

After all, in a world filled with troubles, some of them even real, why limit oneself to a schoolboy’s five paragraphs?

I’ll enforce the usual constraints on length, too, so don’t panic. Time is all we have, and taking as little of yours to say what I need to remains job one, here. Recall, as well, how these notes are to be laughed at over a cup of coffee, not used as the basis for argument.

However, because the world is a hyper-sensitive place, here’s another qualifier. I know ageism comes in many forms, is a severe problem worldwide, and like prejudice of all types, harms each of us. Despite knowing this, the terms of my essay don’t reflect it. So, for those not ready to lighten up, the time to leave is now.

Anyway, I believe life is a choice, and while there are countless divides over which a man could waste a few words of his daily writing practice, who am I to go against the wind? So, without apology to those with other axes to grind, I’m tackling the concept of ageism in the writing business this month.

Here we go.

I’ve said many times before, here and elsewhere, how I believe writing is a solo act. Despite adhering to said belief, I often attend a webinar series hosted by the Writers’ Guild of Alberta that looks at the business of writing.

Need I tell you they’re free and included with the membership?

A couple of months back, the webinar topic was ageism, which inspired today’s essay. I must assure you I mean neither insult nor harm to either the panel or the WGA for hosting such an interesting and enlightening event. In fact, I’ve since attended another of them.

I plan to sit in on more of them in the future, too, unless today’s essay results in my being drummed out of the Guild. What I can’t say is whether future topics will inspire me to write so absurd a response.

Anyway, my essay’s premise is quite simple. I suggest that most writers, me included, and much like most people, have little to say worth reading when either young or old. Which renders the so-called problem of ageism in writing moot. For, in truth, all is vanity. At least, I’ve been told a fellow once said something mighty close to that.

To lend comic support to my absurd argument, I’ll use the comparison technique. I will first define the concept before setting its terms in my essay. Then, I’ll review where it’s been and where it could go with a quick look at my ‘old versus new’ experience of ageism in writing, its supposed effect on both trad and indie publishing, and the degree to which literary history repeats. I’ll close with a few words for those sure to be fighting about it long after I’m gone; tomorrow’s readers and writers.

When thinking about the concept of ageism, one must first accept the role of nature in the survival of our species. For at birth, like most mammals, people are helpless. And without nature’s version of ageism making the old teach the young, the game of evolution, and us, too, would soon end.

So, without some type of ageism, neither you nor I would be here talking about it.

Now, perhaps because an egghead only made up the word in 1969, I found several definitions of ageism, too. For today’s essay, I used the web’s most popular online info source. Here’s what it says.

Ageism is a bias against, discrimination towards, or bullying of individuals and groups based on their age, either younger or older.

I don’t mind telling you that, to me, the word’s suggested meaning is so broad as to render it near meaningless. But has the concept of ageism in writing changed over time? Or has the business evolved to a point where it no longer serves a postmodern need? I offer the following examples from my writing career in reply to these questions.

Like many old writers, I started writing when I was quite young. Not long after that, like plenty of neophytes I then knew, I spent too much time bitching about old writers who took all the work that paid. Instead of writing, I mean. The same old goats were the only ones getting published, too. Or so it looked to me. The rebel without a clue, a smart mouthed high school poet, ruined by getting published at seventeen. I couldn’t imagine how a bunch of old farts would have anything to say that was worth reading.

For among the countless things about which I then knew nothing, is the fact that most writers get published later in life. Note I said most, not all. Here in Canada, the latest reports claim the average age for a writer publishing a first novel is forty-seven. My first one published after I turned fifty-four.

Another fact worth noting is that while we’re young for what amounts to a moment in our lives, we’re old for the rest of it. I don’t know, and thus can’t say, but that could be why there are more outfits devoted to serving the needs of the elderly than the young, too.

Despite their best efforts, the problem of ageism, according to educated sources worldwide, grows ever more severe. The latest word is the publishing careers of writers young and old are under serious threat from some form of it. Because, nowadays, the criteria for success make one thing clear; most of today’s writers are either far too young or too damned old.

Of course, when looking at ageism and writing, one must consider the role of history. So, too, must one examine the topics of sales, marketing, and filthy lucre. Because, like all industries, the one built around writing must earn a profit to survive. Though nowadays, among writers in our country, such talk often gets framed in terms of the hardships of securing grant funding.

Up here, one isn’t long in the racket before hearing talk about the difficulty of accessing the now ubiquitous grant culture. Which is about par for the course, in the arts world, today, as it turns out. I’m not sure, but in some corners the idea seems to be that anyone claiming to be a writer should get taxpayer support, if a committee of their peers okays it.

Likewise, nowadays, one hears little about the nepotism and cronyism that runs through the publishing universe. That’s because, like all rackets turned institutions, much of it is based on who one knows. And, when doing such business, it’s best to be careful who one criticizes. Color me careless, I guess.

So, divide-and-conquer rules. As it does with most of our twenty-first century rackets. Because today’s writers must also survive in the gig based world run by algorithm. Thus many of them, much like those on the recent panel, instead choose to damn the unwanted challenge, slam the editing quality, and curse the lower barrier to entry of indie publishing. And, you know, like a tall fellow once said, a house divided against itself, and all that.

Anyway, being old, when I hear such talk, I recognize it for what it is: fear, envy, and blame. For indie writers, that is, who by daring to go their own way, somehow make all so-called trad publishing dreams harder to achieve. Despite the grant funding, I mean. And did I tell you the Guild is also at least ninety percent funded the same way? Now, if that’s not irony, I don’t know what is.

Lucky for me, I get that it’s not only easier to deride groups without the power to protect their interests, but safer than calling out those whose favor one curries. I know, too, that hoping writers would uphold a higher standard of integrity and fair play than usual to either the times or their industry was foolish on my part. Oh, well, my bad, not theirs, and it’s a solo practice, after all.

Sadly, a writer without the benefit of old age might know none of that. But I’m not sure ageism accounts for it, either.

Besides, the facts tell us self-publishing is how the business of writing began. Their authors published the first books not about science or religion. The publishing industry evolved from those humble roots into what it was, is, or might one day be. And like all capitalist rackets, its first concern is profit. It cares little for either writing or writers.

So, for writers of either today or tomorrow, maybe it’s worth keeping this in mind; history repeats. Beyond that, the terms of this gig are plain; think for yourself, don’t run with the mob, and no whining. Oh, and accept that some things, like competing for your place, are inherent to nature, the process of evolution, and the business of writing.

But it’s also wise to beware from whom you take your advice, too. Because this type of thinking, the independent kind, comes without grant funding. And not much profit either, so far.

What can I say? I’ve only ever done these things because I love doing them. That includes all the starting, stopping, thinking, hoping, wanting, winning, losing, hurting, haunting, and every other stupid, selfish, pointless thing that comes with this writer’s turf.

You see, I don’t write for the approval of anyone but me. Though, like most of us do, I did when I was a schoolboy. But as one knows better, one does so, right? And, likewise, I’ve only ever fought to find out about myself. That’s because I think the point of writing is seeing me, as reflected by you. So you might see yourself in my reflection. And maybe that’s because of what another writer asked, long ago, about how one could be here and not have a story to tell.

I don’t know about that, for sure. But few, at best, know much about anything. Instead, I accept on faith only what science claims as fact. With a commitment to do better, as it becomes known to me. While also taking responsibility for my acts. For me, that’s close enough to a philosophy, for a writer. And the way I see things, the job is applying it to my writing.

So, where once I knew the joy of profound ignorance, I now know the power of humble experience. Not only that, but as all who do must, along the way, I had to pay a price for these gifts. And of the things I could share with you today, reader, I offer this: I would do all of it again.

That’s despite knowing that if I did, there’s a good chance I’d find another way to make the same old mistakes. And if ageism has anything to do with that, I sure hope the eggheads don’t figure out a way to get rid of it. Because tomorrow’s writers are sure to need it just as much, or maybe more, than I did.

As always, thanks for being here, and for sharing this with anyone you think might like to read it.


June 9, 2024

The unplanned lunch.

Hello and welcome, reader.

As always, it’s my pleasure to receive your online attention.

For here in these rural parts I call home, the wheel turns, and the hamsters run, much as they do wherever you might find yourself on this luckiest of rocky blue marbles. As nowadays, global trade has turned these postmodern times into a near homogenous parade of pointless sight and sound for all but the most isolated of us.

To some, my claiming luck is enough to provoke a sneer, if not an argument. But as the death of optimism was reported everywhere, I won’t bother repeating the news here.

Anyway, the glass remains at least half full, to me.

That’s despite the empty promises of collectivism now sweeping the globe, by the way. Made possible thanks to the greatest evil to confront the twenty-first century so far, social media. I call it Fascism 2.0, for short. It’s the same old script, distract people with enough bullshit so the wildest lies start looking like the truth.

Of course, the sweetest irony, for me, is the widespread refusal to learn from even the most recent of our shared history. In fact, based on the current rush to embrace autocracy and collectivism, one might think the twentieth century didn’t happen. If that’s not funny, I don’t know what could be.

But these are sensitive times, with facts believed little more than inconvenient, by those with a political agenda. Though few, if any, will admit either that, or that they have one, without a fight.

What else could such absurd and lemming-like behavior be, aside from hilarious?

I know only this. It’s easy to be distracted by one’s perception of what’s happening. And that makes it simple to lose sight of not only where one is, but where one wants to go.

But rather than argue about it, this month I’m sharing a story that better illustrates my point. Like all stories, this one may or may not be true. However, being fact or fiction will make no difference to your enjoyment of it.

So, away we go.

When still a young man myself, I got to know a handsome young writer who claimed to want to write more than anything else. He had the gift of gab and told me he was consumed by a desire to write great works of art. And so, wherever he went, and whenever I saw him, he carried a pencil and notepad in some pocket of the tweed blazer he most often wore.

He made a point of being seen at cafes, nightclubs, and parties, too, scribbling in the notepad. For much like today’s cohort, the young writer struggled with the weight of expectations. These included his own and what he imagined as his fellows, along with those of his vocation. Unknown to him then, as it is to many now, the world cared nothing for his wants, and these devilish concerns lived only in his mind.

I was a young drunkard at the time, and still learning the trade. I first made acquaintance with the handsome young writer at a local watering hole. Like myself, he enjoyed a drink, and, once again, like me, perhaps a little too much for his own good. Anyway, I took scant notice, then, as we met only when one or both of us was on a party.

One hungover morning, after sharing a binge or two, he asked me to read something he wrote, and I did. Because he didn’t ask for it, I offered him no criticism. From then on, when on a bender together, he would give me more of his stuff to read.

Just as with all who claim ‘writer’ as either vocation or profession, what he wrote was most often bad, sprinkled with some good. His work also left little doubt he was quite a talented writer. And though I thought him a great competitor, our friendship carried on through the formative years of my early twenties.

Life and circumstance being what they are, the handsome young writer and I went separate ways in pursuit of individual goals. For the next several decades, we remained out of touch, and, in fact, as unknown to one another as though we had never met.

But, as all those who have done enough of it know, the world is smallest to those who travel. So, it was no surprise, to me, when the once young writer and I again met when each of us passed through another of the world’s countless crossroads.

He sat at a table in the window of a restaurant overlooking a busy downtown city street, speaking to a server. Even from a distance, and despite the passing of many years, his striking good looks stood out. I was on my way to the same place and noticed him from across the way as I waited for the light to change.

It was a thrill to see the no longer young writer, and I hoped he would be as happy as I to renew our friendship.

After walking in, I told the hostess I was meeting a friend, and strode up to stand before the fellow’s table. Upon arrival, I spoke out at once.

“Howdy stranger,” I said, “long time no see.”

As I was speaking, he lowered the book from which he read and placed it with care in his lap. For a moment, I feared he didn’t know me. Then he raised a single eyebrow and grinned up at me as he made his reply. I didn’t have time to notice the book’s title before he spoke.

“By god,” he said, “fancy meeting you here, you pirate!”

He stood, and placing his book on the chair, embraced me. A moment later, we shook hands and exchanged pleasantries, and he invited me to sit and join him. Of course, I accepted without hesitation, because we at once had picked up where we left off thirty-five years or more ago, as birds of a feather with a long way yet to go.

Though neither of us, I thought, knew what had become of the other in the meantime.

For the next hour, we caught up. As it turned out, he was eating lunch before catching a flight to his home on the east coast, at the end of a business trip. Meanwhile, after visiting family to the south, I was passing through on the drive north to my small town home on the high prairie.

Our meeting was as pure an example of coincidence as anything I’ve known.

Even by then, both of us were grandfathers. For each of us, life had been full, too. While the years had treated him with kindness, the once young writer was now a grey-haired executive, pushing software for Big Tech. Like many of our cohort, he long ago left for the better-paying pastures of our southern neighbors and turned his degree into dollars. Though, despite the abundant greenbacks, he told me it took years to pay off his school debt at home.

From our smartphones, we shared countless family photos, and soon learned we had each been equally blessed. Though our paths had no doubt taken different directions.

Somehow, the hour of our unplanned lunch slipped away, and too fast, besides. Soon, it was time for us to part. To me, given our circumstances, it looked sure that we should never again meet.

Then, for just a moment, nostalgia threatened to overtake me and ruin the great blessing of seeing my once good friend. With a quick shake of my head, I returned to the moment and smiled at the no longer young writer, who was making a request.

I will admit he caught me by surprise.

“Before I go,” he said, “and knowing I might not see you again, I’d like to ask a favor.”

I was surprised and may even have raised my eyebrows before answering him.

“Well, let’s hope our paths cross again, somewhere,” I said, “and whatever can I do for you?”

He picked up the book on the chair next to him and handed it to me before speaking.

“Well,” he said, “I’d appreciate it if you could autograph my copy of your latest novel.”

Like I often am at such rare moments, I was flustered by his request. But I did as he asked, and he looked pleased when reading the inscription after I was through. A few minutes later, we parted. He in a cab headed east to the airport, me in a van driving north to the highway. As far as I know, we’ve not seen each other since.

Now, I think it important to say he was dressed in style. In a word, he looked great. But, because clothes make the man, though neither of us mentioned it, the wealth gap between us was made plain in what we each wore. By my crude accounting, I thought he must earn my annual income in less than a week. In contrast, mine wouldn’t be enough to pay his yearly green fees.

But he was gracious about it and picked up the tab for lunch without a word.

While driving home that day, what passes for insight here came upon me. At one time, both the once young writer and I were distracted by what we perceived as life’s major concerns. And so, we made things beyond our control more important than reaching for what looked to be simpler dreams. Only much later, after discovering the pitfalls of peer pressure and collective thinking, did either of us find an individual path to the life he most wanted.

To each of us, the demands of the nameless herd proved not only false, but dangerous. Just as ignorance of history means, today’s youth are as distracted from reality by events beyond their control as were those in the last century. While, as usual, the gulf between have and have-not increases. For only the status quo is served by ignorance.

Sadly, I haven’t seen or heard from the no longer young writer since that impromptu lunch date. But I hope he liked the novel, just the same.

Now, I’m not sure if my story’s use of metaphor is clear enough for everyone to appreciate. Likewise, its balance of symbol and motif might not be elegant enough for some readers. While its attempts at humor, meanwhile, may prove too crude for others.

I don’t care about any of that.

All that matters to me is you getting what I’m trying to say. Because I’m not speaking to anyone but you, reader. And what’s most likely is, we’ll never meet.

That’s just how it should be, too. After all, I’m a writer, and my job is sharing our story. Not just with you, but for you, as well.

As ever, thanks for being here, and for sharing this with anyone you think might like to read it.


May 11, 2024

The rebellion.

Hello and welcome, reader.

It’s good to be here, and thanks for joining me.

First, the literary news.

Which comprises sending thanks to all for joining us at the Local Author Book Fair presented by Homexx Homes on March 24th. Thanks again to Leduc novelist Penny Benjamin for hosting the event and Homexx Homes for donating the space.

I much enjoyed the chance to meet some area novelists and talk a little about writing with a few local readers. Thanks again to everyone for the support.

Watch the Events page here and I’ll look forward to seeing you at a future Book Fair.

Now, on to the latest ravings by the long-lost pirate of the high prairie.

Once again, a period of rest, which means not writing, forces me to rail in this public forum. Though by now, more than a month has passed since work on my latest manuscript ended. I’ve done as little of anything as possible, and no writing, aside from this practice, thereafter.

So, here we go.

For while I’ve loved few things more than doing it, there are fewer yet that take more out of me than writing fiction.

I’ve long supposed it was part of what makes a novel art. The suffering writing one of them causes, I mean. Well, that, and the often genuine commitment it takes to read and make sense of them after they’re published.

But aside from that, it’s hard to say what makes a written work art. For me, anyway. Though even I know this isn’t. But what, then, is literary art?

Must the writer ground a work of fiction in philosophy and use it to define an ethos to qualify?

I would offer the work of Camus as an example of such an approach.

Or does a simple expression of feeling justify its existence?

Here, I could suggest poetry to make the point.

I mean, most of us know about genres, the boxes into which we fit the books, movies, music, and anything else that offers a choice of style, type, or use. But we do that for ease of sorting and management, and not for defining the artistic role of things. At least, that’s a usual claim.

So, one would think genre, or the box into which we place a work for sorting, should neither define nor limit a work’s artistic merit.

But that’s not what happens, in fact.

Instead, with art of all types, genres play a far greater role than either sorting or managing. Because the genre name placed on a work forever defines the critical appraisal earned by it.

Not only that, but we’ve trained ourselves to praise what’s known as high art and to belittle what’s called pop art. If one uses the terms high and pop as genres of art, that is. Of course, doing so means granting genre power beyond its actual purpose.

It doesn’t get any closer to answering the question of what makes a literary work art, either.

In my defence, I must remind that readers here should, as ever, expect to find more questions than answers. For when seeking facts, one is best to ask, not tell. Besides that, I’m serious, too, and remain undecided.

Though I don’t figure to change anyone’s mind here, either.

But as those precious few who know me would tell you, I sometimes enjoy pulling on a thread. So, what about artists?

Are they common? Does the talent to make art live in all of us, or everything, such as a room filled with ten thousand monkeys, like the internet generation lately claims? Or is it instead practiced by a small and uniquely gifted group within our species, as the evidence of history suggests?

In each case, who decides which of us goes where? And what are the criteria for selection? Is it a choice made by a few stuffed shirts hiding in a mysterious ivory tower? Or is it some kind of secret lottery, where you need to know someone to buy a ticket?

Or could it be something worse?

As usual, I’m on the side of the facts, and in this case, history offers them. Not only that, but my personal experience of decades working in these arts rackets backs its claim. So, with artists, I support the doctrine of exceptionalism.

For those inspired to protest, the lineup starts to the left, just outside the door.

Now, as far as criteria go, however, I suggest little beyond nepotism, cronyism, and the desire to keep a power structure in place composes it. To best ensure the riches of a few at the expense of many.

How’s that for a change of pace?

Outraged by such statements? Or just offended by an off-white dropout making them? Perhaps a little frightened? By an attack on the ivory towers upon which the dreams of our somnambulant world rest, I mean?

Well, there’s not a thing to be done about it. Because writing backed by nothing other than a classroom is worthless. And where a single word of rebellion gets spoken, the seed of dissent persists. As likewise, those holding power, along with their gatekeepers, remain under threat.

Once again, for protesters, the lineup starts to the left, just beyond the exit door.

Besides, if everyone’s an artist, any who don’t like what I’ve said can use their talent to compose a response that refutes my premise. I’ll look forward to reading it.

There’s no better reason to write about what you know than that, either. Because opposing a prevailing narrative is an act of personal rebellion. While for me, doing it peacefully is a big part of what makes art real.

Before going further, it’s worth noting I understand progress takes time. I know, too, of my good luck, despite the challenge of race, for my birth in the democratic west, a place of relative freedom. I thus temper the roots of my latest protest with knowledge of the blessings I’ve enjoyed and how good I’ve had it, compared to many of my fellows.

All the same, change often needs a catalyst. And a man doesn’t tend such a fire to keep it burning. Like I’ve said here, before, the point of building it is sharing light and warmth. In terms minimal and metaphoric, that’s also what I call my philosophy of art.

Within my literary work, I’ve made that too plain to be missed. As in days gone by, I did the same with my music. At least, that’s my story.

But twenty-first century life means bathing in facts. Which now must compete with as much or more outright lies and nonsense. Sadly, the relentless ubiquity of each has driven many of us to a state of vast ignorance. And left our former beliefs about things like common sense, insight, and wisdom, the relics of a bygone era.

While leading our once free society to the brink of ruin.

Now, don’t start up with the worrying, Chicken Little, because the skies have yet to begin their fall. Not so far, anyway. We’ve plenty of time to prevent it, too. But we need to take a break from the narcissistic navel gazing we call social media to pull it off.

So, it’s time to say this again.

After a longer surge to the left than ever before seen, society’s pendulum now swings, perhaps just as far, to the right. In response, the early stage of panic grips lefties everywhere. For they now fancy themselves under serious assault, despite their claims to the moral high ground.

Meanwhile, among those on the right, the call to arms has by now taken over much of the world’s public stage. As, in conflicts worldwide, both armed and rhetorical, the voices of autocrats and conservatives demand the return of their share of power.

This should surprise no one.

For despite what you may think, the people always get what they want.

Not only that, but it’s natural for a pendulum to swing. And in a society, not one of us has an inherent right to getting our own way. A society works by its people arguing back and forth about how things are going to be. There are no rules aside from those we make and enforce upon ourselves.

Likewise, as a man who dislikes being told what to do, I’ve as much trouble keeping it between the lines as anyone. So, when things don’t suit me, I’m not shy about letting the world know about it. In a democratic world, after all, I’m free to make my opinions known.

So long as I recognize my freedom ends where it infringes on that of my neighbor. And likewise, my neighbor must respect that their freedom ends where it impedes mine. These are the rules used in our supposed free democratic society.

We call it the rule of law.

Unless or until one’s ideas disagree with whatever mob is making a show on social media, that is. After which, just like everyone else, one is free to stfu, or change one’s tune. If not, one must then face the consequences.

They call it canceling, nowadays.

It’s part of the online terror spread worldwide. By competing gangs of newborn zealots. Often anonymous, enabled by tech, and driven by a toxic mix of fear, ignorance, and stupidity. Each of them not only denies the differences between people, but our right to be that way.

Whether making claims of diversity or separation, each group seeks an ideological monopoly around the globe.

Like our kind does in the age of social media, though, instead of debate, the opposing groups engage in shouting wars from inside separate echo chambers. And, of course, any talk of compromise leads to nothing but more shouting. Despite the claimed misery caused to each by the dreaded status quo.

It’s more of the same old, same old, and everything remains everything. To hell with those of us wanting only to live and let live.

Without a doubt, our latest approach to living together in peace is dumber than any I’ve yet seen. And I’m now an old man, widely traveled. As near as I can tell, the latest inmates, drunk on the anonymity granted by social media, believe themselves in charge of the asylum.

On which side they stand makes no difference.

Because extremists are the enemy we all share. All the time, and everywhere, too. It doesn’t matter whether they’re doe-eyed leftists devoted to change, or hardcore right-wingers sworn to preserve the past. Each endangers a free and healthy society.

That makes all of them my enemy. Whether you like it or not, it makes them yours, too. Because we, the people, are best served by evolution, not revolution. No matter who, or what side, claims we need it.

History makes those facts plain.

I know, too, that few of us take the time to learn from it. And these days, with every recorded moment of the past but a click or two away, our resistance to such learning does our society, and thus ourselves, far more damage than ever.

Here, one often wonders if our kind might just enjoy conflict more than anything else.

And though sure few will heed this call, I’m glad to share it. Because, to me, it means I’ve held up my end of this artist’s deal. So, from here, you’re on your own. The allegorical canary, meanwhile, may now rest in peace.

For those who wonder, I do, too, on most nights.

That’s because I know my job. And all that matters is doing it. Even if you don’t get that, it’s okay. Only a single other, somewhere, must, for an idea to survive. As we’re all here, plainly, the precedent was long ago set.

See, my job is holding up an end. Time and nature will take care of the rest. It’s not like I’ll be around to see the results, anyway. I’m good with that, too. After all, I’m the son of a farmer, and tending a crop meant for sharing with strangers is the biggest part of what I know.

Because just like it is for most of us, there are few people interested in anything I might do, feel, say, think, or write. Which makes my choosing to publish any of it a pointless exercise. Well, either that, or an act of absurd rebellion.

I’ll give you three guesses to figure out which one I think it is. But the first two don’t count.

Thanks for being here, and for sharing this with anyone you think might like to read it.


April 6, 2024

The habit.

Hello and welcome, reader.

     It’s good to be here, and thanks for showing up.

     Were I that way, my excuse for blowing the monthly schedule after only five of them is that February was a short one. Either that or finishing third draft revisions to my latest manuscript kept me too busy to drop you a note.

     No matter. I’m not, and by now, you’ve accepted me like this. The way I’ve got it figured, those who would not left long ago.

     So, let’s get to it. Because, as usual, I’ve got something to say, and you’ve precious little time to waste reading it.

     First, the literary news.

     On Saturday, March 23rd, I’ll be one of a dozen Alberta writers featured at the Local Author Book Fair hosted by Homexx Homes. We hope you’ll join us between 12noon and 5pm at 1335 – 155 Street SW, Edmonton.

     It’s a chance for both of us to meet some area novelists and talk a little about writing. And yes, there will be plenty of books available if you want to buy them.

     Other than that, believe it or not, beyond the latest public appearance, it’s mainly dullsville in these parts. Unless you’re one of those with a thing for writing, anyway, and that’s for sure.

     Because writing remains a solitary habit practiced by a relative few. Despite nonstop attempts by teachers, guilds, and salespeople worldwide, to brand it a shared experience. So, if you’re one of the few, the Book Fair is a chance to meet others of your tribe. While if, instead, you wonder what makes such people tick, it’s a chance to find out.

     I look forward to seeing each of you there.

     Now, on to more nonsensical ravings by the long-lost pirate of the high prairie.

     Despite a recent snowy blast, the ides are upon us, and deep thoughts, of nonsense like artistry, craft, and work habits fill this battered melon. Here, the in-between time, when one work ends but before the next begins, reflects the worst of the outsider’s life I’ve led since taking up this worthless crusade.

     It’s then when my career choices, even to me, seem most obscure, too. Though one can’t deny their results. A man makes his bed and must then sleep within it, after all.

     As, likewise, freedom comes with no guarantees.

     Well, some of us prefer it this way. Despite the hardships that now and then come along with our choices.

     For we know that countless others have no alternative. Some of us might even be one of ‘those’ people. Because of color, circumstance, or inequity, they’re forever on the outside. We both know who they are, too, no matter who we might claim to be.

     Because it’s tough for reasonable people to deny reality.

     Maybe that’s why I’ve always thought of writing as keeping a fire burning. Not only for myself, and my survival, but for the next one. Who, with any luck, soon enough comes along from who knows where any of us ever do in this dark place.

     I know a little warmth goes a long way, too, when you’ve been cold awhile.

     For me, all kinds of writing keeps the fire lit, as well. Not just novels. Because I started out as a high school poet but made a stage name for myself as a touring songwriter. That was years before writing my first newspaper column in a local weekly, and decades ahead of publishing a monthly feature in a national magazine.

     So, yes, I got plenty of practice, in out of the way places, before taking the big stage. That’s how I see writing novels, by the way. As the top shelf. I mean, as a solo act, to me, the novel is the summit of a writer’s career, and one of the greatest achievements in the arts.

     Or it should, and can, be thus, if done as a solitary act, and well. If supported by a team of editors, however, not so much. Not to me, anyway. And did I tell you, lately, how I’m the only one to whom I answer? Well, if not, there you go.

     There I go, railing on about writing what you know, again.

     I’ve worked hardest to ensure my response to these overly sensitive times is plain in my writing, too. Because I stand against the tyranny of the mob, no matter the shade of PC cloak in which it may wrap itself.

     I’m against censorship, too. Of all kinds. Because only the fearful and ignorant want to ban books. Likewise, those willing to enable such a mob by ‘sensitivity editing’ have reached a new level of cowardice.

     Because the first job of writing is to inform.

     That means showing how it was. Not how you wished it could be. A writer shows how people lived at a moment in time. A writer doesn’t hide the facts out of fear the truth might offend whoever may later read it.

     Those who don’t get that, don’t get what it means to be a writer. Likewise, I’ll wager they don’t get art, or artists, either. For them, I suggest printing this to hang among their participation medals.

     Is it hot enough for you, in here, yet?

     Can you believe this? How could someone holding such outlandish beliefs not be far more popular in the 21st century? Talk about getting what you want! Poor little rich boy, indeed.

     Now that’s what I call entertainment.

     Beyond fortune and fame, I think it’s also why we built the entertainment industry. I mean, how else is the world supposed to get any value out of so many troublemakers? And keeping them together, chasing the same carrot, eases management.

     I guess we owe the guys in the suits for that, if nothing else.

     Not only that, but all fiction writing is entertainment. That’s why we invented novels. Oh, sure, maybe some folks don’t like thinking about writing that way, but it’s a fact. For those who wonder, I’m with Vonnegut on this one, and think the novel is, much like myself, an anachronism leftover from another time.

     Worse yet, the published novelist’s job is entertaining a reader.

     So they can, for a few brief moments, escape the rusted chains of vicious reality. If only now and then.

     And though at best no more than a lifelong fringe player, a darling of the bush leagues, the proverbial four-A man, I’m pleased with my choice, and the results, too, of chasing my dreams. Because even a career in these minor leagues showed me more life than I ever dreamed of seeing.

     Now, don’t get it wrong. Because I’ve had far more than my share of moments. I know many turns I’ve taken were either delinquent, amoral, or wicked, too. If one sought the trappings, instead of the story, I mean.

     I know this because of losing myself in them a time or two. Yes, it’s a fact. Few like throwing it around more than me. Way back when I got a taste for hording it, too. So, let’s say I’ve been as sick on it as anyone, now and again.

     Lucky for me, I got over it, and after a time, returned to my life’s work.

     I’ve not for a minute regretted the choice, either. Though many can’t say the same, neither about me nor their own.

     C’est la vie. Make it. Lie in it. Next.

     For me, life’s beauty is in its simplicity.

     Of course, the trouble with that is people are hard-wired to seek patterns. Which leads to a relentless need for ever more complex answers. Thus rendering real life plain, lonely, or even, as some claim, boring. And leaving its beauty, sadly, beyond the grasp of many of us.

     I think it’s clear that our recent turn to the worship of communal tech is the end of not only freedom, but progress, for our kind, too. Though, unlike others, I don’t blame A.I. for any of it. That’s because I still recall who’s driving the bus.

     Despite the apparent species-wide need to blame the almighty but unseen algorithm for all things unpleasant today.

     Remember, an algorithm is simply a process or set of rules, or run-time instructions, followed by a computer to perform a task or solve a problem. Nowadays, people still write most of them, too. So, for whatever they do, that makes it our fault, every time.

     What we call A.I. has little, or nothing, to do with it.

     Did I tell you how I’ve used some kind of software editor since taking up the word processor in the early days of computing? In those days, spell checking was the limit of its power. Fear of copyright infringement means I won’t say the name of the long dead software I first tried, but it was quite good, for its time.

     I was pleased to set aside the typewriter, as well.

     I’ve used the giant of such software tools since its demise and enjoyed the fruits of development labor as the built-in editor there improved over the years. Once more, infringement fears keep me from publishing its name, but you likely know the product. As far as I know, it’s as good as it gets among its kind.

     But editors are people, too. And all people have tastes, fears, and biases, as well as experience, skill, and talent. Nowadays, the demand to be PC rules their efforts, too. Not only that, but access to their time is expensive. So, after publishing my first novel, I bought purpose built and A.I. powered editing software.

     Today, it’s integrated with the word processor I use for all my published writing.

     What’s it like? Well, I’ll say it’s not worth letting a few kooks run amok on social media scare you with fearful tales of a frightening future. Because the world of tomorrow, and everything in it, is yours.

     That’s whether you want it or not, by the way. So, you know, enjoy.

     As editors go, while easier to get in touch with than a person, software is no more flexible with the rules of the grammatical road. But despite the A.I., it remains a rules-based world. So, even today’s basic tools let the user shape them to quite a granular degree.

     Care to split the infinitive, anyone?

     That also means I can be as purposely incorrect as I need to be when showing how it was in my work. And to me, that’s a writer’s actual job.

     But while a handy tool for a pro writer, an A.I. powered software editor isn’t yet a threat to replace a person at the keyboard. Not today, anyway. But who knows what tomorrow brings? After all, as a novelist, I’m an anachronism, and not long for this new world.

     C’est la vie, my friend, c’est la vie. Still, you know, it’s worth having a little fun while you’re here. Because it’s not for long, as things turn out.

     Though for youngsters to get the best of what’s yet to come, staying in school long enough to qualify for the life they want is likely their best choice. That way, they can be one of those writing the next wave of algorithms.

     With any luck, they’ll save the rest of us from our early attempts at blaming A.I. for not fixing the many things we left broken.

     And though unlikely to see the light made by their fire, here’s a thanks to them for keeping it burning. Because the writers of tomorrow will need warming. Just as they who wrote yesterday did, and we who write today do, too.

     As ever, thanks for being here, and for sharing this with anyone you think might like to read it.


March 16, 2024


The latest.

Hello and welcome, reader.

Once again, a month slipped away, and is now lost forever to the wayward winds of time. While each of us pursued who knows what in the name of survival.

It passes quick, I’ll say that. So, I’m keeping it short this month, and sharing little beyond the most salient of the local writing news.

Here, the much loved writer’s life continued. Which is another way of saying not much happened, but everything changed, and plenty.

Though, as usual, I’m not sure of why or how or what the results might be. I mean, the truth is that doing the work is reward enough for me.

So, my dreams are perhaps less grand because of it. But don’t take that the wrong way, because I like eating just as much as the next fat man.

Not only that, but I proved the facts of my competitive nature long ago.

Here’s to the demands made by the world’s inequity and those who seek to impose it upon the rest of us. Thanks to the bullies, the bigots, the racists, and the fear-mongering revivalists for showing us the price of ignorance, too.

Because right needs wrong to strengthen itself, just as light needs dark to be missed. Recall that, the next time some asshat spewing bullshit tries getting you down.

For, as the long dead Aurelius once said, what stands in the way becomes it.

I’m now a couple of weeks into third draft revisions of my latest manuscript here. Because I prefer to work six days a week, today is the usual one off. So, it’s time to catch up on some writing.

Last month, I told you twenty-twenty-three was a good and productive year for me. I didn’t say how or why, though, and after getting a few queries, thought I would give you some details along with the latest news.

Be warned, however, as once you’ve heard them, you’re likely unimpressed.

I’ll go by the calendar, as it makes things easier for me to keep straight. As regular visitors know, I started the year by publishing Things I Can’t Change, my best-selling novel to date. On its own, that would make twenty-three my favorite year, and thanks to everyone for making it happen.

From there, things only got better. Because early in the summer, I wrote the first draft of my latest manuscript. One day soon, it’ll become my eighth novel. And once again, getting that done, on its own, would’ve made it a damned good year. But more was on the way.

Through the months of fall, I co-wrote the first draft of an original feature film screenplay. Then, before the year’s end, I wrote a short film script. In future posts, I’ll let you know what happens with each of them. For now, I’ll say filmmaking is more than an idea.

While engaged in those projects, I also wrote the monthly Homegrown feature for High Canada Magazine. Fans will know I ended my run as their pundit, with the last column in the January twenty-four issue.

So, as far as I’m concerned, anyway, it was a hell of a year. But, truth be told, I expect this one to be better. I mean, all things willing and the creek don’t rise, it ought to be. And if I were you, I’d stick around and find out.

But, you know, I’m one of ‘those’ people, so you might want to be careful before getting up to anything I tell you. You know, cuckoo, and all that. Anyway, for my part, I warned you.

And that, as the saying goes, is all the news that’s fit to print. Until next time, keep on keeping on out there.

As ever, thanks for being here, and for sharing this with anyone you think might like to read it.


January 28, 2024

The experiment.

Hello reader, and welcome.

From peaceful Pajama Flats to wherever this note finds you, I send best wishes for the coming new year. In these parts, meanwhile, and despite the season, the experiment continues.

As a writer, I’ve had a busy and productive year.

Though I’m anything but prolific.

Not only that, but like all writers, I must first commend the feats of others when looking back on my own. And few things keep an overgrown ego in check, like recalling the greats of the past.

All the same, for me, it was a good one. I’m grateful for it, too. Though my reach continues to exceed my grasp.

Because the more things change, the more they stay the same. At least, that’s what my elder brother likes telling me. And more often than I care to admit, I’ve found those words prophetic.

In my mind, I can see him grinning as he reads this, too. Thanks again for sharing, Bud.

My dear old dad, on the other hand, would tell me there’s no time but the present. Which, as things turned out, is another point on which we would disagree.

In memory, often, I see him laughing at me, too. Rest in peace, and thanks again, Dad.

They have been and ever will be two of my favorite people. Either despite or because of the many times we agreed to disagree. Even after all these years, I’m still not sure which.

But as the calendar turns, I’ll say keeping on is its own reward. And that I owe those two men plenty for sharing their wisdom. Perhaps as much, or more than, what I owe the nameless writers on whose shoulders my stuff stands.

Anyway, I’m thankful for all the help, as well. Though, like the times, I’ve changed, too, and plenty, by now. Not always for the better, either, I will admit.

But, as usual, one endeavors to persevere. And I’m as good with who I am now as who I used to be, too.

So, here’s to another new year given to progress, not perfection.

On that front, the one just passed was, for me, a triumph of effort and focus. For at last, I feel prepared.

I only wish the previous statement could provoke the laughs from you that it does me.

What’s that you say? About what do I laugh?

As usual, the joke I’ve made is on me. After all, I’ve spent my life doing something about which I apparently know little, or perhaps nothing. Only now, as an old man, does awareness of not just how, but why, and for what, the thing I’ve tried doing, is clear to me.

What’s this, you ask? You know nothing? How is that news?

All the same, I’m now ready to properly do it. I feel, as near as one can, that everything done before was to get ready for what comes next.

But don’t get the wrong idea, because I’m without a real clue about what that might be, just now. Which, believe it or not, isn’t so strange, around here.

I’m talking nuts and bolts, of course. Because the worst of the artistic heavy lifting is already done. I mean, the first drafts are complete, anyway. And if you can’t see what might be there after reading a first draft, you’re in the wrong racket.

Of course, even the arts world gave up on imagination long ago. Instead, like most everyone else in the computer age, they traded it for the safety of formulas.

After all, why make the effort to think for yourself when someone else will do it for you? What’s wrong with more of the same old thing? And so what if the price of profit is serving the lowest common denominator?

That’s entertainment by algorithm.

Well, I’ve always asked more of it and still do. That’s why I got into making art as a boy. Not only that, but I think being an artist is a calling, too. And yes, of course, I think writing is an art form, as well.

How’s that for a laugh? Not dark enough? Well, hang on, there might be a better one up next.

From the start, the only audience I’ve tried to please is me. And what’s more, the times I pull it off are rare.

Despite the setbacks, I keep working. And lately, to me, the stuff reads like it’s ready. Maybe that’s why, despite the hour growing late, I’m looking forward to this new year as much as any before it.

Either that, or the delusion is near complete. I’ve heard they’re often like that. Slowly built up over time, with change so slight as to remain unseen until its effects are too apparent to ignore.

Well, no matter how it turns out, I’ll take what comes.

And if that doesn’t work for you, well, then I guess we’re not looking for the same thing. But then again, I’ve heard tell there’s no accounting for taste.

In these parts, it’s what accounts for the size of the royalty cheques.

Now come on, if that one didn’t do it, then I just ain’t gonna get er did, cousin. Because I can’t do it no better. And that’s what you call a softball, right there.

So, from here, you’ll be on your own, as far as laughs go, to end or start this latest new year. But don’t go claiming I didn’t give you nothing to end off right or get started strong, you hear?

I mean, what the hell, it’s not like making widgets, you know. A man has to dream this shit up, right off the top of his fool head, too. You just try it for yourself one time, and then come talk to me about it.

Be careful, though, before you do. On a count of it can leave a man with a humdinger of a headache, afterwards, and that’s for sure.

Do you follow me?

I had a friend who asked me that every time he lost track of what he was saying. Like me, he was an ex-pug. And when I knew him, he lost track of his thoughts so often it surprised me how many he tracked down. Anyway, he always had a lot to say, so I figured it must have been good exercise for his brain.

Well, I write a lot more than I speak, but maybe his excuse will work for me, too.

Either way, here’s a happy new year wished to you and yours.

As always, thanks for sharing this with anyone you think might enjoy reading it.


December 31, 2023

The community.

November 12, 2023

Thorsby, AB

Hello and welcome, reader.

I’m grateful you’re here and want you to know it. For me, that’s a big deal. Because, sadly, I’ve often been told I can be a selfish jerk in private life. And that such behavior sometimes intrudes upon my public one, as well.

My claim, of course, is that’s what comes with the writer’s turf. Though it’s true, I’m at times distracted to a rude degree. As, likewise, I remain wholly unrepentant.

But I write this stuff because I want you to read it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t publish it. Whether it’s my latest novel, a magazine column, or a blog post that brought us together. Why, even if it was a note left on the social media that brings you, I’m glad you found me.

Because a gig’s a gig. That’s what my late partner-in-crime, Kenny Holmes, would say. After all these years, I remain sure he was right, too.

Anyway, I’ve long made a habit of holding up my end of a deal, nefarious or otherwise. So, when the lights go up, whatever you’ve paid for is what you get, every time. Because I’ve spent my life on the stage, not in the crowd.

After all, it’s not called the write-what-you-know ‘school’ for nothing. Because if you ain’t done, then you can’t know. None of it. Not one bit. I can say that much for sure now. And knowing is another of the dubious prizes you get for being a high-mileage unit.

I’m not so sure writing what you know is a selfish act, either. Though I’m not claiming a higher purpose than entertainment for it. Around here, with art, intent counts as much or more than anything else, anyway.

I also know there’s no accounting for taste, too. Not only that, but to me, entertainment ranks among the highest aims of art. Although, despite, or maybe because of, my own picky nature, I’ve never been much concerned with what’s popular.

My guess is, because you’re here, you’re a little like that, too. Or maybe a lot. Whichever it is, thanks for stopping by.

Now, let’s hope I can make the visit worth these five minutes of your time.

Over the last month or so, I appeared at a couple of local Author Fairs. There, I had the good fortune to meet a few dozen Alberta writers. I met authors of fantasy, self-help, and science fiction, through those of memoir, literary, and romance novels.

For me, getting to know a little about the varied approaches and outlooks of the writers behind the many styles was a treat. After meeting readers and selling books, the highlight of both events was getting to know a few of them.

It was great fun. And much like being a member of the writer’s guild, the events made me aware of the community of writers to which I belong. Though, because writing is a solitary pursuit, I often forget about that.

So, here’s a public thank you to the good folks at the Spruce Grove Public Library for the reminder, and the invite. And for putting on the most recent well-attended event. I will look forward to seeing you all again next year.

Meantime, I hope to attend more events like it in the future. Because I’m a recluse, not a hermit. And, so far, at least, meeting people who either have or want to read my books has been more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

I met several aspiring writers, too, both young and old alike, at each event. For me, more than anything, it’s a privilege to help others get started, or keep going. So, I hope the recent Author Fairs inspired and supported their writing as much as it has mine.

Likewise, the chance to meet fellow published authors, and talk a little about writing, is big fun. I’m not sure, but maybe that’s because we’re all chasing something different. Despite the unique focus of each writer, however, our shared devotion to the lonely craft somehow forms a bond between us. Though we are surely strangers, and remain so, afterwards.

By now, after spending most of my life chasing this solitary mirage I call a vision, it seems I’d forgotten about that, too.

Well, I’m now reminded. And so, plan to do a better job of sharing, and giving back, to this lifelong pursuit of art for art’s sake.

Because my chasing this writing thing has made me a life. Not of ease, but opportunity. It has challenged the depth of my commitment and imposed a harsh discipline. While showing me that, like everything else, one gets from it exactly what one puts into it. No more, and no less, either.

I wouldn’t want it any other way. And I have loved living it, too. Why, I love it more today than I ever have. And, because I’m old, and have been doing it since I was a kid, that’s saying something.

Next, I’m going to throw in a plug for the Writer’s Guild of Alberta. Because the WGA is the writer’s community to whom I belong, and they do plenty of good for writers in Alberta. If you’re a writer in the province, published or not, I encourage you to join the Guild.

For despite each of us pursuing a solitary craft, all of us belong to a family of writers with roots beyond our own time. In places like the WGA, they help preserve those roots for writers of the future.

What I know is, there’s always plenty of good things for writers happening at the Writer’s Guild of Alberta. Not only that, but they create plenty of opportunities for writers, too. I encourage you to check them out online.

Now, to further support the theme of giving back, I’m going to prattle on for a minute about writing and opportunity. For the writers, I’ve used a mix of metaphor and simile as motifs with which to show my point. While trying not to either mix the former or stretch the latter.

Because it’s sometimes hard to see when it shows up, and not just for writers. For most of us, we’re often unaware of things until after they’re gone. Another hard thing to learn about that is, most times, we don’t get a second chance.

So, this one is for the young and old aspiring writer alike. When or if you see a chance, take it. For, much like when a train leaves a station, the first job is catching it. Leave the worrying about where it might go for when you get there.

That’s a long-winded way to say you’ve got to write the words when they show up. Because the right ones will be long gone if you go looking for them later. And though the time is never right, it’s always time to write now.

Recall, too, that writing is iterative. Which means it’s just fine when a first draft sucks. Because without it, there can’t be a second one. So, instead of letting them fade away, use your smartphone to jot down a first draft of your thoughts when they happen.

Meanwhile, the voice of experience calls a warning. Of how the pain of a missed chance is far worse than that of any failure.

Here, this writer’s life is a roll of the dice and enjoy the ride, anyway. I mean, as near as I can tell, I’ve little control over much beyond saying yes or no to it. And that, by the way, is another way of saying I control my attitude, and nothing else.

So, as a writer, speaking to those wanting to be one, the best thing I can say is get on with it. I’m not saying it’ll be easy. In fact, it’s likely going to be quite hard. And, no doubt, often lonely, too. But once you start, you’ll figure out the rest, including when, or if, to publish it.

Ain’t life grand? Thanks for teaching me that, Jim, and rest in peace.

As usual, thanks for being here, and thanks for sharing this, and the new website, with anyone you think might like it.


The product.

October 21, 2023

Thorsby, Alberta

Hello and welcome reader.

By now, I’ve had a long career in the arts. And throughout it, I’ve mostly let my work speak for itself.

Aside from admitting I was wrong-headed, there’s no changing that now. Mea culpa.

The results, of course, are clear. I mean, how many times have you not heard of me and my writing since my high-school poems published in nineteen-seventy-nine?

So, in the spirit of not expecting to produce a different result by doing more of the same thing, I’m today offering a few more details about the product made here.

After all, what is art without philosophy? And what’s philosophy, other than the personal rules by which we deal with life and our fellows?

The answer to the unasked question is yes, I just used the ‘a’ word to describe what I do here. That’s mostly because, to me, literary writing is an art form. At least, when aiming for such a purpose, it can be.

Besides, as an egocentric fop in the midst of a lifelong masquerade as a man of insight, my commitment must ever be complete. And that, in case you wondered, was an example of the humor common to my stuff.

From here, you’ll have to figure it out for yourself.

Now, for most folks, an author writing and publishing a novel is enough to value the work produced by them. And the less said by the writer about it later, the better.

But others think more is better, and so, ask for background. To some, only the derisive scribble of eggheads and critics holding forth from within ivory towers makes it legit.

Well, for them, you, and anyone else who might read this, I offer this note. Along with the hope, it enlightens while sharing a laugh.

Here, in minimalist form, is the story behind my stories.

The truth is, I first wanted to write mysteries. That’s when I found out that art reveals the artist far more than the other way around.

Long story short, I write about postmodern life and our private struggles with moral relativism. Because it’s the most widely lived story of our recent past, and the one I believe is most worth sharing with the future.

I always have, and likely ever will.

My writing comes through the lens of Metis heritage, and because I belong to the ‘write-what-you-know’ school, it reflects who I am and what I experienced. I write historic fiction set in postmodern western Canada for the same reason.

Likewise, I sometimes reflect personal beliefs within themes explored by my novels.

Despite this, each of them relies more on motif and symbol to make thematic statements, rather than giving overt testimony.

For here, the medium remains a large part of my message.

Now, these next things I’ve already said and written more times than I should have. But, because I’m celebrating the launch of the new website, I’ll repeat myself.

My novels are fiction, not biography. And I write fiction because I believe only there can we share the facts of our times here. So, in each of my novels, I’ve tried to show how it was, where, and when I was, too.

For me, that’s the point.

Of course, if you like, I’ll use a few more of what Steinbeck called the two-dollar words preferred by literary eggheads, and say it’s the philosophy motivating the creation of my art.

And because I think myself a minimalist writer, I’ll end the ‘splaining right there.

Now, here’s the latest news.

Early this month, I joined a couple of dozen local Alberta writers at the Leduc Public Library’s first Author Fair. Well, it was a time-and-a-half. Thanks to everyone at the LPL for being gracious and welcoming hosts. I look forward to seeing you all again.

And here’s a public ‘thank you’ to everyone who joined us there. Along with the biggest thanks to the readers who bought copies of my books. I hope you enjoy them and look forward to reading your reviews.

I’m now done with second draft rewrites of my latest manuscript. After a few months of rest, I’ll get to work on a third and final draft early next year. And so far, I’m pleased with my progress and looking forward to seeing it in print.

Stick around, and I’ll let you know what’s happening with it in future posts.

The next public appearance for me is the Author Fair at the Spruce Grove Public Library on Saturday, November 4, at 1pm. I hope to see you there.

Thanks for being here, and thanks for sharing this with anyone you think might like to read it.


Hello and welcome!

September 14, 2023

Thorsby, AB

Hello and welcome, reader.

I hope you’re enjoying the new website. My swanky new online home is a work-in-progress, and I look forward to your reviews.

The plan is to use this page to carry on the now-and-then habit of posting random thoughts, news, and the usual detritus filling the back corners of my mind. I’m thinking of it as subbing for my now-shuttered Blogger site. Which was, for those unaware, the successor to a long-running email newsletter called the ‘Harwill News’.

And just as Willie said, it’s sure funny how time slips away.

I’m calling this page ‘The Practice’ because that’s what I’m doing here. By now, you know I need all I can get.

As usual, there’s no formal schedule for posting these notes, either. Though I hope to make it a monthly routine. And because they’re published here and in no place else, you’ll have to visit the website to read them.

So, here we go.

I like the site template used here most because it’s self-explanatory. The headings at the top and bottom of each page link directly to others on the site. While the content is limited, there’s plenty of info.

A short bio and a little background lives on the ‘About’ page.

You’ll find all seven of my novels available direct from this website on the ‘Books’ page, along with links to the Amazon retail site.

While a list of my now rare public appearances is on the ‘Events’ page.

For those who, like me, enjoy writing more than just about anything else they can do with their boots on, I’m now offering some writing webinars. The details and start dates are on the ‘Writing Courses’ page. Drop me a line if you want to try one of them out.

To book a spot, send a site review, or get hold of me, see the ‘Contact’ page.

Meanwhile, for those into the craft, the ‘Twelve Rules’ page lays out the basics of my personal fiction writing approach.

As usual, thanks for being here, and thanks for sharing this, and the new website, with anyone you think might like it.