Monday, August 16, 2010

Legacy of Stone a hit

Well, we've heard from Legacy of Stone co-creator Frank Korvemaker that the book continues to do amazing things. It's latest accomplishment? It's now part of the fabulous new historical site, The Bell Barn, where it is selling like hotcakes. Both hardcover printings have sold out, and now the paperback edition is moving. It's good to have such hits in a publisher's list! Congratulations to the "team" of Legacy of Stone -- writers Marg Hryniuk and Frank Korvemaker, and photographer Larry Easton.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Short stories

The release of Coteau's latest short story collection, For the Love of Strangers, by Brenda Niskala, inspires thoughts of short stories in general. You'd think in this truncated age of tweets and blurts and hasty blogs, the short story would be the ideal story form. So why are they the poor cousin of the fiction world? It's stupid.

Here's what's worse. Film adaptations. How many movies do you know of that actually admit to being adapted from short stories? I can think of two -- a local filmmaker made a film of one of Connie Gault's stories, and then there's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? And YET, as a film writer explained to me, the first thing she had to do when adapting a novel was to rewrite it as the short story that was its essential core, and then write the screenplay based on that short story. HELLO. Just start with a short story, for the luva, and cut your workload in half.

But no.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Too much reality

"I've abandoned my search for reality and am now looking for a good fantasy."

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you're getting TMR -- too much reality? Like you find yourself emotionally bonding with a character you're reading even though you know (whether they do or not) that they're tied down in the male car of an express train that's heading for the washed-out bridge over the chasm? Metaphorically speaking of course. But can you escape their clutches before they pitch over the edge? Or have you already established that the two of you are too much alike to even pretend their fate could possibly be any different from yours? Better hope the author has a good answer!

Maybe it's better to stick to the unreality genres. If my protagonist who's facing a moral crisis wtih a significant character flaw is a six-armed slime creature named Icwad from the planet Blini, there's much less chance of my taking his/her/its fate to heart. I can still learn something from the situation without having to endure the actual whiplash of the battle.

I mean, if I want fraught reality, I only need to step out of my den and into the real world. Didn't I climb between the covers of this book to get away from all that?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Don't you just love the sheer creative genius of some people? Nothing is more thrilling than encountering some absolutely astounding talent that can amaze and amuse you and transport you to a different world. I'm talking about fiction. One such talent, which I'm enjoying again at the moment, is Jasper Fforde. And his world of jurisfiction. Started with The Eyre Affair and am now chortling my way through Something Rotten. The world is just so much bigger, and funner, with people like this in it!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Alternate formats

Here's one thing that I have yet to encounter in all the hubbub about ebooks, graphic novels, smart phone texts, -- all the alternate format stuff that is roaring out there picking up speed and kicking up chipdust: Will any of these formats actually WORK with readers? I don't mean work as in "the acquisition of information" work or even the "providing an entertaining evening" work. There are lots of books that do these things, lots of formats and platforms that do. But what I mean is at the level of literature, can they work? It seems to me that to be locked in, engaged, with a text in a way that affects a person on this level, a crucial element, if not THE crucial element, is the "suspension of disbelief", our internal skeptic that must be muzzled or at least seduced. The extent to which a work of literary art is successful is the extent to which it causes you to suspend disbelief and engage wholeheartedly with it on one or more levels. That's a proposition.

So, if that's the case, how are these AFs (alternate formats) doing at this? Everyone knows, or at least the lucky know, that you can curl up in a cozy chair with a book and get lost in it. Can you suspend disbelief reading lines of text on a 32" LG colour monitor? Fiddling with the buttons as you read your Kindle? Your smart phone? I don't know the answer to that, and I haven't come across anyone who does. If you can, then great, we're set to carry our literary art into the digital universe. But if you can't, then you better be aware of what you might be missing while you are scanning that ebook. What we might be losing if we just let the book slip away like an astronaut's spacewrench into the void.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Book Trailers instead of books in trailers

So, today, Coteau climbs to the next rung of internet marketing with its first ever book trailer, for our kick-*ss teen title Fishtailing. Check it out.

Book trailer is the new term -- we're used to movie trailers, aka sneak previews, but videos about books? Why not?

The only thing is, this trailer lives on the internet. Why not in movie theatres? Come to think of it, Heather Reisman has an interest in the Cineplex Odeon chain. So why shouldn't we get to see book trailers in front of all the "from the novel by..." movies? I think it's a great idea. Hey Heather, we've got the content if you've got the (screen)time...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Books Changed My Life

A number of years ago, in another incarnation, I was part of a team that ran a “Significant Book” contest. People would submit ballots that listed what they thought were the two most significant books in their lives. (We had to ask for two to deal with all the people whose response to any request for “a good book” is “The Good Book.”)

I was all for calling it the “Books that Changed Your Life” contest, because not only have I had the experience of having my life changed by encounters with certain books, but I wanted to make the point that books can be more than just entertainment. A book, when it’s literary art, has the power to change your life, as does all art. To alter your perception of things, allow you to see, to think about, the world and people in it in ways that you simply didn’t do before.

But we didn’t want to scare anyone away from our contest by being too intense, too arty. So, “significant book contest” it was. We asked a number of celebrities for their responses, just to prime the pump. A former mayor intrigued us all by identifying Black Beauty as his significant book.

The point is, few people had any difficulty identifying a significant book in their lives. Some, like the mayor, picked books they had read many years earlier but which had obviously stayed with them through everything. Few books turned up on more than one response (which is one answer to the frequent question “why does there have to be so many publishers, so many books?”) Books, really good books, really do have the power to change people’s lives. Are you open to be changed?

Of course, there have also been books that have changed my life in ways that weren’t necessarily for the better. But that’s a different story…