Sunday, 15 July 2018

Quill and Quire loves OCULUM!

OCULUM hanging out with the other 'bots

"Oculum’s tone has a folksy and whimsical quality ...  

Both Miranda1’s and Mannfred’s worlds, though very different, feel like something from a fairy tale. The details the reader is given about the time of the Olden Begones (before the apocalypse) are fun to reconcile with our own present-day, and when characters find broken pieces from computer keyboards or reference the works of William Shakespeare, it creates a satisfying connection between this fictional future and our current reality... 

... rich world-building and determined characters give it an originality that sets it apart..."

Well, that's a very fine review from Quill & Quire, thank you! 

OCULUM now has two trade reviews, and both are extremely good. When you write a new book, it seems like a long time between publication and the first professional reviews (although it's usually only a few weeks or months). You learn to think about other things as you get more books under your belt, but the wait is always a bit nerve-wracking regardless of how many times you experience it.

So thank you to both CM Magazine and Quill & Quire for the close and careful reading of OCULUM, and for the kind words! And thank you to my publisher, Dancing Cat Books, for letting me tell this "folksy and whimsical" dystopia for younger kids.

More about OCULUM:

Full Quill & Quire Review
Full CM Magazine Review, Highly Recommended
Goodreads Reviews
All BLOG POSTS about OCULUM on this BLOG

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Blackwells and the Briny Deep BOOK TRAILER!


Emma Blackwell used to love mermaids. 
Jonah Blackwell used to think he liked pirates. And William Blackwell just wanted 
to be a good captain ... 

... at least they DID, until they see the 
phantom ship, run aground and get 
stuck on an enchanted island with screaming mermaids, zombie pirates and cursed, shipwrecked figureheads.

It'll make a great sea story one day,
if they can just survive it!



My new book, Blackwells and the Briny Deepis coming out in September/2018 ... and it has a great new BOOK TRAILER!

This is book 5 in the award-winning Weird Stories Gone Wrong series, hope you enjoy it.

More About Weird Stories Gone Wrong on this BLOG


Thursday, 21 June 2018

My acoustic guitar music goes on tour ...


The author at a coffee house at 16 years

Here are 3 new artist videos that use my guitar music:

Canoe Trip on the River Wye, England
Drone tour of St-Leon-le-Grand, Quebec
Lovely Fall trees 

In my non-author life, I play acoustic guitar.

I've played guitar most of my life. I started with a ukulele that someone thoughtfully gave me when I was nine. I begged my family for a guitar (my older brother had one, it seemed only fair), and when I was 12, I got a Sears guitar for Christmas. I played it until it bent in half (admittedly it wasn't a great instrument, more of a toy really).

For my 16th birthday, I got a truly wonderful instrument which I still have and record with even today: a solid body acoustic Yamaha dreadnought, mahogany top, made in Japan. Glorious deep voice, still. It's in the picture, above.

My first guitar album with
editor Allister Thompson, 2015
But before that, when I was 12, I started guitar lessons with the Sears toy guitar on Wednesday nights with Ursula Davidson, an amazing Russian woman who loved guitar and loved teaching kids how to play. Each student dropped a $2 bill in the jar at Ursula's feet, then sat in a circle and tuned (which usually took a long time). Then we played great old tunes, a new one each week, including some Monkees, Beatles, Jim Croce, even some America and CSNY.

It was perfect for me. Not too intense, no one-on-one unless I needed it, just learned some fun music every week and realized I really loved the instrument.

Ursula told my mother one spring night that I should go and audition for another guitar teacher because I had promise, and she couldn't teach me much more. So I did. I'll never forget how nervous I was auditioning for this man in a stern beard.

My second guitar album with
editor Allister Thompson, 2017
He assured me that I knew how to read music because my mother had assured him that I could. I assured him that I couldn't read music. He sighed. He said he didn't teach beginners anymore. Then he had me follow some complicated picking that he showed me quickly and I thought, sure, I can do that. I'm pretty sure I couldn't, and didn't, but he must have seen something in me because he told me to turn up for lessons the next week.

And that's how, at 13, I met my Julliard-trained guitar teacher. He patiently started at the beginning and taught me how to read music for classical guitar. He cajoled and bullied me, a fairly lazy student, into someone who could actually sight read reasonably well, and play acceptably. But I wasn't up to his standards, not really. He and I both knew that I was never going to play in Carnegie Hall. So at 16, I stopped lessons. But I never stopped playing.
2010, author and daughter doing our favourite things 


In fact, learning new songs and creating music of my own has been incredibly important to me my whole life. I've played with friends from university on a regular basis for almost 40 years now. I have a classical duet flute partner, and we practice regularly and play in public from time to time. And I also record music with my editor, Allister Thompson.

And people use the music in their videos to celebrate whatever it is they are doing in their lives. Honestly, that makes me so happy.

I think it would make Ursula Davidson happy too, and even my old Julliard-trained guitar teacher might say a quiet "well done." Or he might just be able to listen without wincing.

Thank you to them and to my musical friends, for the gift of music.

Here's a link to MORE VIDEOS using my music
More musical posts ON THIS BLOG