Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want To Do or Learn About After Reading Them


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Have you ever read a book that made you go: "Huh, that's cool, I'd like to know more about that."  Maybe it's skydiving, maybe it's an ancient language, maybe it's just walking through the gawddang wilderness for months like in Lord of the Rings. Books are supposed to whisk you away to other worlds, to drop you into the drama and action, so of course in this imaginary world you could picture yourself doing different or interesting things. 

Here are a few of those things I wanted to try:

(Credit for the list idea goes to The Broke and the Bookish blog)


10. Sword smithing
The Complete Book of Swords by Fred Saberhagen

Now, this is a fantasy novel so I'm sure the depiction of smithing is way off. And the blacksmiths involved all end up suffering terrible, grim fates. And I know I couldn't actually forge a sword with god-like power. But damn, I still want to forge my own sword. You could also add Highlander 3 as an inspiration to bend melted metal into sharp shapes.


9. Apocalypse Prepping
The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

Brooks is so logical and matter-of-fact about the whole thing, OF COURSE I should go out and stockpile weapons and food. It's not a matter of "IF" the zombies will rise, but "WHEN."


8. Visit England
Pillars of the Earth / World Without End by Ken Follett

I almost said "build a cathedral," but I would be content with just visiting them. I would be pretty happy to see just about any part of Europe, really. History in North America is great and all, but I want to see buildings that are a thousand years old. I imagine building a castle or cathedral would be really hard, anyway.


7. Brush up on my art history
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

I took a few art history courses in university, but I wish I could take more time and explore it more, particularly visiting some museums or even overseas (see item 8 above) to see first hand all the stuff we were talking about in those gawdawful boring lectures. I guess I could also see them in The Da Vinci Code movie, but I don't think I could look at Tom Hanks' terrible haircut for two hours.


6. Bookbinding
Bookbinding Materials and Techniques, 1700-1920 by Margaret Lock

This one's cheating a bit because I already wanted to learn more about bookbinding, that's the reason I read the book. I've always been fascinated with how books are made and have tried my hand a few times, but I've never had access to the full array of tools and equipment to do it properly. To be honest, I would probably just end up hurting myself, but I still gotta give it a go, you know?


5. Write a quasi-historical epic of Newfoundland
As Near to Heaven by Sea: A History of Newfoundland and Labrador by Kevin Major

Newfoundlanders are far more proud of their history than most Canadians. It's no surprise that when this series of provincial histories was released in the early 2000s, the Newfoundland edition sold 3-5 times as many copies as any other in the series, despite being one of the smallest provinces. I think there's definitely a place for a big fictional epic; I'm just torn on whether it should lean more to the historical side or the fantastic.


4. Punch Robert Jordan in the Balls
Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan

Not to speak ill of the dead, but to be fair Jordan was still alive when I read this book. I got through six volumes of the Wheel of Time and just had to give up. It's a cool world with lots of great ideas, but the books are just waaaaaay too long. Nothing happens for the first 400-500 pages of each book (besides summarizing the previous book). I blame the Wheel of Time (and Christopher Paolini) for my distaste of traditional fantasy fiction these days. 



3. Write a better zombie RPG
Dead Reign RPG by Kevin Siembeida

There are lots of great zombie-themed RPGs out there, but Dead Reign was the first I bought, and I was hugely disappointed by cavernous gulf between the great premise of the idea and the godsmackingly-terrible execution of it. I had to completely rewrite the rules to make something playable out of it, not realizing at the time there were lots of other options available.


2. Become a professional wrestler
A Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex by Chris Jericho

I kinda always wanted to be a professional wrestler, but next to everyone else's books, which are usually about drug abuse and failed marriages and suicide attempts, Jericho's first memoir makes wrestling seem like a joy. His stories are so fun and hilarious, it makes professional wrestling seem like a GREAT idea.


1. Learn more about Canadian History
Hell Comes to Hogtown by C.D. Gallant-King

Yes, this is a cheap plug for my own book. Yes, I think you should buy it and read it right away. And no, it doesn't really have anything to do with Canadian history. I did, however, have to look up a number of minor things as I was writing it to check some facts, and I found numerous stories I would love to know more about, and maybe even fictionalize some day. 

(Also, you should totally pick this one up.)



Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010. Check it out right here: http://www.brokeandbookish.com/p/top-ten-tuesday-other-features.html
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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Self-Help Books and Why Dani Writes Them (GUEST POST by L.G. Keltner)


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The hilarious L.G. Keltner has a new book out, Self-Help 101 or: How to Survive a Bombardment With Minimal Injury. I really enjoyed her last book, Self-Help 101 or: How I Learned to Take Over the World Through Tolerating My Family (you can read my review here) so I jumped at the chance to have her back today to tell us a little about the new volume. Take it away, LG!

~ | ~

Self-help books are popular, and I guess it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why.  Life is complicated.  It’s also short.  People want to know how to create the life they want for themselves without wasting too much time.  When left to our own devices, we take detours in life that may turn out to be dead ends.  We spend time worrying about the wrong things.  We change our minds about what we want out of life, sometimes because our previous dreams weren’t all we thought they would be.  Humans have messy lives, and we want to minimize stress.  We think we’ll be happier overall if we have some kind of direction from someone who knows more than we do.  We look to charismatic experts to give us easy answers.

When I sat down to write the Self-Help 101 series, I asked myself what qualified these self-help book authors to offer advice in the first place.  How many of them would we actually consider to be experts in the area they claim to be an expert in?  After all, if you’re a skilled writer or speaker, and you exude the right amount of confidence, you can convince people that you know more than you do.  There are certainly people out there who take advantage of this fact and try to make a quick buck off of unwitting people.

When Dani sets out to write a self-help book at the beginning of Self-Help 101 or: How I Learned to Take Over the World Through Tolerating My Family, she wants to make money.  Though she doesn’t have any experience in world domination, she isn’t going to let that little detail stop her.  However, does she have any other motivations other than the money?

Writing is an interesting process.  Writers often learn about their world and their place within it through writing about it.  We struggle with ideas and events when we write about them.  Dani may not actually be making all that much money with her endeavors, but she keeps writing because she loves doing it.  Her life is changing rapidly.  She’s fallen in love.  When Self-Help 101 or: How to Survive a Bombardment With Minimal Injury starts, she’s finished high school.  She’s trying to come to grips with how her relationship with her parents has shifted since she’s now a legal adult.  She’s both apprehensive and excited about starting college and all the changes that new adventure will bring.  Writing is one way she uses to make sense of the changes in her life.

Will Dani’s self-help books be useful to anyone else?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  One thing is clear.  These self-help books do help her.  Writing them is therapeutic.  Not only does she get a chance to vent about the things that plague her, she also gets the chance to highlight the humor in her daily life.  Who wouldn’t benefit from that?



Title: Self-Help 101 or: How to Survive a Bombardment With Minimal Injury
Author: L.G. Keltner
Genre: YA/holiday/humor
Length: 25,000 words
Cover Art: L.G. Keltner and Jamon Walker
Release Date: June 28, 2016

BLURB:

Book 2 in the Self-Help 101 series

Dani Finklemeier has self-published her guide to taking over the world, but she still isn’t rich.  Now she’s eighteen, still babysitting for money, and looking forward to starting college in the fall.

Of course, she has to survive a 4th of July outing with her family first.  That’s a challenging prospect considering she has to be in close proximity with a group of cousins known as The Fallible Four.  As if that weren’t enough, she also has to deal with the fallout of her parents learning more about her relationship with her boyfriend Seth than she ever wanted them to know.

The good news is that, if she survives this holiday, she’ll have plenty of material for another self-help book.

BIO:

L.G. Keltner spends most of her time trying to write while also cleaning up after her crazy but wonderful kids and hanging out with her husband.  Her favorite genre of all time is science fiction, and she’s been trying to write novels since the age of six.  Needless to say, those earliest attempts weren’t all that good.

Her non-writing hobbies include astronomy and playing Trivial Pursuit.

You can typically find L.G. lurking around her blog, on Twitter, or on her Facebook page.


BUY THE BOOK:

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

I'm Actually Feeling Pretty Good (#IWSG)


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My new book came out last week.

I've been very busy, doing interviews and guest posts, as well as going through the holiday weekend and my regular full-time job. To be honest I haven't had time to get anxious about how the book is doing, though I feel like I should be. I do check my Amazon account every day to see how many copies I've sold. It's certainly not a quantity to write home about, but even that is not particularly worrisome. Every single sale is a small but concrete example that a) someone is interested in my work or b) someone cares enough about me to support it whether they like it or not. 

I sat down today to write a post about how I'm anxious and insecure about my writing, about how it will be received, about how many copies it will sell, etc. But you know what? I'm honestly not. I'm not worried, at least not right now.

Is this the face of contentment? I think it is.
It's not that I don't care. Of course I would like it to be well-received, and it would be nice to make a few bucks, but that not why I'm doing this. 

I don't expect to become a full-time writer, living on the income of my writing. I have a good full-time job with benefits and a pension and I would be foolish to even consider leaving that for anything short of huge truckloads of sweet, sweet literary cash. I have a family that I adore, and that is my number one concern that I will take care of above all else.

This is what I imagine JK Rowling's living room looks like.
If there's a chance my children could choke on cash, then I will quit my job.
I certainly don't expect to win any awards for my work. I'm not making art. I'm having fun, and writing stories that I hope others will find fun, too. 

I think my book is pretty good. I put a lot of work into it and I'm happy with the result. It's the kind of book that I would enjoy, if I picked it up somewhere. But I also know it's not for everyone, and that's okay too. I just hope I can get it into the hands of the correct audience that will appreciate it.

I am growing comfortable in my position as a writer. I'm not someone struggling to complete their first novel, I've proven I can do that. I'm not desperately submitting my manuscript to agents and publishers, begging for their validation (that's entirely another topic I'm not getting into today). I'm not out there frantically marketing my ass off, living or dying on my next sale. I don't have a long term plan that I have to write X numbers of books in my series in the next two years in order to bump up my Amazon ranking.

I don't have time to read all these books, let alone write them.
I'm just going to try and write the best stuff I can write, the best stuff I want to write. If each book gets one more positive review or one more sale than the previous one, then I will be thrilled. That will be a success for me and all that I can ask for at this point.

~ | ~

If I had to come up with one thing that caused me a bit of insecurity this week, it was an interview I did with the PodBros Network to promote Hell Comes to Hogtown. For some reason I don't give a damn what I say in the written word, but I do worry a bit about audio interviews and whether or not I come across as an idiot in them. I feel like answering questions out loud leaves me with far more opportunities to stick my foot in my mouth.

Anyway, if you want to check out the interview, the link is below. I always like to listen to interviews with fellow creators to hear how and why they make things. In this one we cover my book, my writing habits, how I got my editor and cover artist as well as some random Canadian and comic book trivia. Check it if you're so inclined:


(Podbros Promotions is also available through iTunes and all your favourite podcatchers, in case you want to listen on the go).

~ | ~

The details for the book, if you are so inclined to check it out, are below (WARNING: It has A LOT of bad words in it). But first, I will leave you with a quote that I had been considering using when I first sat down to write an antsy, anxious tirade this morning. I think it may prove useful to everyone who is wringing their hands over their writing today.

Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity. 
-T. S. Eliot

~ | ~


TitleHell Comes to Hogtown
Author: C.D Gallant-King
Genre: Comic Horror
Length: 65,000 words
Cover ArtJason Salvatori and Max Covers
Editing: Amy Allen-MacLeod
Release Date: July 1, 2016

Fitz is a broke night manager for a grubby comic book store. His only friend Dee is a drugged-out, womanizing pro-wrestler. Together they’re the most pathetic losers on the face of the planet. One night a mysterious, beautiful woman walks into Fitz's shop and he thinks that his luck might finally be changing.

And then he's implicated in a kidnapping and murder plot involving the prime minister's family.

On the run from the cops, Fitz and Dee discover there is something far worse than the RCMP stalking the dark streets of Toronto. They are being hunted by an ancient demon of unspeakable evil with an insatiable taste for blood... or maybe it’s just your run-of-the-mill giant murderous hobo?

Either way, life in prison might be better than whatever the creepy drifter has in store for them…

You can purchase Hell Comes to Hogtown at any of the fine retailers below:

CREATESPACE | SMASHWORDS | GOODREADS

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group here.

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Monday, July 4, 2016

Hell Comes to Hogtown: The Soundtrack


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For those who missed it, my new book Hell Comes to Hogtown was released last week to much fanfare. It's available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Smashwords and many others, so you should go immediately to your online retailer of choice and pick up a copy. Then come back here and listen to these songs while you read it. It will greatly improve your overall experience.

I can't speak for other writers, but I listen to music constantly when I write, and certain songs tend to burrow into my brain and insinuate themselves into my writing. I've said before that my first book, Ten Thousand Days, was basically inspired by A Perfect Circle's song "Sleeping Beauty." I don't have a single song this time around had that kind of impact, but I actually have enough songs that are meaningful to the story that I can come up with an entire album.

Some of these tunes I listened to while I wrote and they affected my frame of mind and thus affected my writing. Some of them just strike me as being appropriate to the story. Either way, it's a fun little exercise and maybe it will help you understand the theme and the atmosphere I'm going for in my book. Or maybe you'll just get to listen to the fun tunes.

~ | ~

"Zombie Night" by Trastorners
This is the music from the trailer. I wanted something both dark and humorous that fit with the theme of the piece (I also wanted something that was royalty free so take that for what it's worth). It may not capture what I was going for exactly, but it's close. There's another song by this band I wanted to use, but it was too familiar and people would have associated it too closely with something else. SPOILER WARNING: The book doesn't actually have anything to do with zombies.

"Conditions of my Parole" by Puscifer
This is the theme for Act I, and quite accidentally, it nearly tells the plot of the book. It was not at all planned, because I hadn't heard this song until I was nearly finished the manuscript, but there are several lines in "Conditions of My Parole" that nearly spoil the story. I don't know why I'm including it except that were Hogtown be made into a movie, this would actually make a great theme song, like the Bond themes of old.

"Applause" by Lady Gaga
This is the only song that's actually mentioned by name in the book. It's the entrance music for Dee, one of the main characters. He's a professional wrestler, and it's the song that plays when he makes his way down to the ring. It's perfect because the idea of living your life on stage and doing everything for "The Applause" is EXACTLY Dee's motivation. He's a narcissist and everything he does is for attention. Plus it's a really catchy tune.

"Dear Brother" by Puscifer
This is the theme of Act II, when the story gets darker. It's about raising a drink to fallen brothers, and cursing "the reaper (who) slips right past us/the bastard stole your breath away." It's a little more introspective, a little more serious than "Conditions of My Parole," which follows the pace of the book nicely.


"The Heart's Filthy Lesson" by David Bowie

The villain's theme. The creepy demon hobo holds many dark secrets in his heart, and he knows everyone else's secrets as well. He's dark and dissonant and discordant, just like the song. It's about death and loss and longing, but also about having a sick sort of admiration for the beauty of murder and destruction. About holding dark desires in one's heart. Plus it's just an awesome song, and I had to include David Bowie somewhere.

"Kalopsia" by Queens of the Stone Age
Kalopsia is a condition, state or delusion in which things appear more beautiful than they are. This is the theme of Act III, which is where our hero Fitz discovers so many things aren't what they seem. Things that seemed beautiful turn ugly, the world he thought he understood is turned upside down, and he's forced to reevaluate parts of his life and relationship that he's held true for years. The pace of the song is also perfect for the up-and-down roller coaster of the last few chapters. The song goes from low, dreamy and confusion valleys to soaring, powerful peaks, keeping you off balance and reeling, just like our hero.

"Chelsea No 2" by Rufus Wainwright (Leonard Cohen Cover)
This is Alexandre Croteau's theme. Alex is one of the RCMP officers chasing down Fitz and Dee and one of the main players in the story. I knew I wanted to include a Rufus Wainwright song, it was either this one or Montauk. I always imagine this song in one of the book's violent, deadly fights toward the end. It's incredibly incongruous but gives a chilling and sorrowful undertone to the violence. I could totally picture that scene in a movie in slow-motion, shot like a choreographed dance number, with a slow love song playing at graphic violence in the centre.

"A Drowning" by How to Destroy Angels
Ariadne's theme. She is the woman that enters the comic shop and turns Fitz's life upside down, and she is destined for a dark fate right from the beginning. Her mysterious, painful past is only hinted in the story, but the bits that we do see are heartbreaking enough.

"The Munsters" by Trastorners
And here's the other song I alluded to at the top. If Hogtown was a movie, this is the song that would play over the closing credits. Despite the heavy nature of most of the music, it is a funny book with strong elements of comedy, and I wanted to include that somewhere. The goofiness of the Munsters' theme song just provides such a nice dichotomy to the heavy-handedness of the rest of the contract.

~ | ~

THE BOOK!

TitleHell Comes to Hogtown
Author: C.D Gallant-King
Genre: Comic Horror
Length: 65,000 words
Cover ArtJason Salvatori and Max Covers
Release Date: July 1, 2016

Fitz is a broke night manager for a grubby comic book store. His only friend Dee is a drugged-out, womanizing pro-wrestler. Together they’re the most pathetic losers on the face of the planet. Their lives cannot possibly get any worse.

And then they’re implicated in the kidnapping of the prime minister’s wife.

On the run from the cops, Fitz and Dee discover there is something far worse than the RCMP stalking the dark streets of Toronto. They are being hunted by an ancient demon of unspeakable evil with an insatiable taste for blood... or maybe it’s just your run-of-the-mill giant murderous hobo?

Either way, life in prison might be better than whatever the creepy drifter has in store for them…

THE LINKS!

You can purchase Hell Comes to Hogtown at any of the fine retailers below:

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