Thursday, September 5, 2013


For those of you who are writers (and everybody is a writer)... here's the latest on my author-journey.

Two weeks have passed since my book, Stone and Silt, was released. This is all a new experience for me, and now's a good time to checkpoint how it's all going.

First, the book did well on its opening day, proving once again that it pays to have a broad network of family and friends. The book peaked at #8 in Amazon's Hot New Releases for Young Adult Lit/Fic. That was a "Quick, somebody fan me!" moment. Thank you all!

And it was a delight to see the comments and goodheartedness from near and far, including some old friends I hadn't heard from in a long while.

I feel that the acceptance of the book has put a little bit of British Columbia into bedside tables and living rooms across the US and Canada. That makes me very happy.

The book has six Amazon reviews so far, and a 4.8-star rating. I'm very grateful for readers who take the time to leave a short review. Thank you! You can see all six reviews here. And, if you're so inclined, you can add your own review with any feedback on the book.

The latest two blog tour events took place yesterday. One was a 5-star review from a top book review site, "Books and Pals." The reviewer remarked: "The murder mystery plot was exciting, dangerous, and stressful to read. There were many twists and turns on the way to the resolution. Nikaia, Klima, and Yee Sim were very resourceful and clever. But, my favorite parts were the everyday background details and the interactions between Nikaia’s family and friends. ... The telling of Nikaia’s mountain quest, the Anybody Boat, Charlie Ray’s trap line experience, Annie Adams’ basket weaving, and other stories brought realism to the book by teaching meaningful lessons to characters, and providing insight into the culture of the First Nations people and pioneer life during the gold rush." She had other thoughts and comments which you can read here.

I was asked to guest-post yesterday for Katrina at PageFlipperz, a book review site that has featured hundreds of books since 2010. Here's an excerpt from the post: "It was a time unlike any other. The streets were suddenly energized with miners, riverboat captains, merchants, prostitutes, and government men. In weeks, Yale became known as the largest settlement north of San Francisco and west of Chicago. By 1858, the little town on the banks of the Fraser had become, for many, the most exciting place in the world to be." You can read the rest here.

Coming up, the book has several more blog tour stops, with reviews and guest posts in the works.

Oh, and something exciting took place that has never happened to me before. A book idea, for a contemporary mystery, came to me almost fully-formed while I was riding the bus to Seattle. I filled a small writing pad with plot notes, scene ideas, and character sketches. I think it's going to be viable as a full-length mystery/thriller. At any rate, it will be a fun project to sink my teeth into. I'm energized.

Thank you for riding along with me in this journey.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

25 random things... revisited

About five years ago, there was a little phenomenon that raced around Facebook: posting a list of "25 Random Things About You."

We started collecting those from our members in this KBoards thread. We have almost 1,000 of them, and the thread has been visited 73,000 times. It's quite fascinating to browse... a little glimpse into so many personal lives. Some are heartwarming, some heartbreaking. Others are just delightful nuggets of trivia.

Here are some random selections from all the randomness:

4.  I was born in Dallas, my parents were born in Dallas and my grandparents (all 4 of them) were Texans.

3. My philosophy prof in college was so ornery, he made students cry. He was featured on 60 Minutes twice and even Mike Wallace couldn't intimidate him.

14.   When I drive with my mom as my passenger, I have to ask for permission to change lanes.

3. Married the only girl I ever dated. Turned 19 on July 9, 1971 and was married July 10.  My mother was opposed to the marriage because we were too young. (My wife is 16 months older). 37 years and counting…

26. I am compulsive and will correct spelling errors I see in a post of mine that is over a year old. No, it is not OCD. But I will agree that I am a geek. 

20.  My mother-in-law got remarried when Half-Blood Prince came out and I threatened to skip the wedding

25.  I don't get enough sleep - I stay up too late reading or online or whatever.  I think it's the curse of being a woman of "a certain age".  Like right now - it's 1:20 A.M. 

8.   I have 2 tattoos. A teddy bear wearing sailor whites on my shoulder, and a dolphin on my ankle.

13. I used to be able to carry a tune; not that I was in danger of ever being anywhere near good enough to be professional, just good enough to enjoy singing. Somewhere around age 35 I seem to have lost my ability to sound good enough to sing even when I'm alone (I know this because the cat jumps up on my lap and covers my mouth with his paw when I sing.) That kind of sucks, since I like singing in the car.

My list is below - a few years old but still mostly accurate.

1. My favorite toy of all time is Lego. Not the new fancy pieces. Just bricks. 

2. My first paying job was mowing the nine greens at the town's golf course, for $7 each Saturday. Other paying jobs: gas jockey, river guide, library book-sorter, programmer, and project manager. 

3. I have lived in Lytton BC, Vancouver BC, Boise ID, Honolulu HI, Regina SK, Saskatoon SK, Helena MT, Montgomery AL, and Bellingham WA. 

4. Career pivot-point: In 1980 my dad bought a Radio Shack TRS-80, and my brothers and I started learning to program in BASIC. I changed my major to computer science the next fall. I'm grateful that my dad's interest in this "new technology" led me to a field that I really love.

5. Best career advice I got was from a friend who talked me into joining the university's Co-op program. I learned that you can excel at a job even if you are a so-so student. 

6. It took me nine years to earn my Bachelor's degree. 

7. I am a middle child, an eldest son, a Virgo, and was born in the Chinese year of the Tiger. The stereotypes for each of those fit me exactly. 

8. When my first daughter was born, I was so excited about all the things I could teach her. Ha! I had no idea that nineteen years later I would still be learning from her. 

9. If I have a knack at work, it is that I enjoy solving puzzles. 

10. I am a champion of the underdog. Evidence: I run a website for Microsoft Zune in my spare time. 

11. I have learned a lot from my brothers and sisters, and I love them fiercely, and I should tell them that sometime, but we're Canadian, you know, and that is not likely to happen. 

12. Reading is my comfort food. 

13. Carrie and I picked Bellingham "off the map" - literally. We were on a project in Alabama, and I wanted to live back in the northwest, close to my daughter Celeste. My job requires travel, and Bellingham has the most northwestern airport in the lower 48. Thankfully, Carrie was willing and adventurous. We subscribed long-distance to the Herald for a few weeks, decided this was the place for us, and moved here in February 1997. 

14. For the past twelve years, I have worked out of my home. My various supervisors have been 2,800 miles away, in Virginia. Sometimes that is still too close. 

15. One of the great joys in my life is making my wife and daughters laugh. 

16. I have two must-see movies every Christmas: It's a Wonderful Life, and Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas. 

17. I will go to great lengths for a small amount of praise. 

18. Unfortunately, my employer and my wife have figured #17 out. 

19. My track record of choosing Christmas gifts for my wife is very poor. (I actually spent a lot of time picking out that office chair.) Now, Carrie just gives me a list of SKUs. 

20. Whenever Carrie sings a song, I jump in and harmonize loudly. I cannot help it. And I do not know how to harmonize. 

21. My fortune cookies always come true. 

22. I have been to just two countries so far (Canada and US). I'm a citizen of both. Number of provinces I've been to: 10. Number of states I have been to: 42.

23. Carrie is 118 days older than me. But, really, sometimes she is just so silly. 

24. Some of the people I consider my lifelong friends are also people I haven't spoken with in five, ten, fifteen years. It's a guy thing, I think. 

25. One night at dinner, we were trying to describe each other with "one word". Sarah and Hannah conferred briefly, and came back with "loving" for Carrie, and "encouraging" for me. Thanks, girls. I'll take that, gratefully.

What are 25 random things about you? Post 'em in the thread!