Well folks – the white stuff is flying through the sky this morning. I expect I’m going to have to get out there and shovel sometime today – and maybe tonight – and maybe even again tomorrow – but for now I must blog.
For me – writing a blog entry feels about the same as a dog wagging it’s tail. I blog to show how happy I am with the life that I have built for myself.
I blog because it just feels good.
Let me tell you all about my big Friday adventure.
Thursday night I set my alarm for 3:30am.
I had a taxi to catch at 4:45am and I didn’t want to oversleep.
Turns out I woke up at 3am anyway. Sometimes rotten sleep habits can work for a man.
I had a quick breakfast and double-checked my packing and tied my tie.
Let me clarify.
I actually ATTEMPTED to tie my tie.
I placed the tie squarely about my neck. I brought the wide end up through the loop and then back down and pulled it around and underneath and over and about sixteen times widdershin – trying hard to remember something my grandfather had said about a little bunny running through a fox hole underneath a spreading chestnut tree and a little red wheel barrow. My wife found me several minutes later – dangling from a ceiling light fixture with my necktie transformed into a wonderful silken noose.
Hey – it was a new necktie and hadn’t yet been properly broken in.
She took pity on me and tied my tie and was overcome enough by my manly bearded proximity to kiss me on the cheek and wave me out the door where I was picked up promptly by my cab from Driver Dave’s taxi company.
Let me tell you all a bit about Driver Dave’s. The company was started by a local Kings College student when he saw a need for cheaper drives out to the Halifax airport. The local taxi companies charge about sixty bucks for a drive out to the airport – so Dave cut his price to thirty dollars. If he has several passengers he makes a profit.
To clarify – it is a thirty dollar fare if you book just for yourself. It is twenty dollars per passenger if you book as a group of two or more.
Driver Dave’s service was prompt and courteous and I was VERY impressed with the company. If ANY of you Halifax readers ought there are thinking about catching a cab to the Halifax airport – call Driver Dave’s at 441-4428.
Best of all – if you book a flight with Porter through Driver Dave’s he’ll give you that ride to the airport for FIVE BUCKS!
You can’t beat that.
Check out his website.
But back to my adventure.
I caught a flight to Montreal that left Halifax airport at 6:15am. I had to be at the airport about an hour early. It is charter season and the line-up was pretty intense.
I had a good flight over and passed the time by watching THE BLUES BROTHERS without my headphones. I had seen the movie and could follow the dancing – although I did miss the music.
Spent an hour or so in the Montreal airport before catching another Air Canada flight to Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto. It was very cool to land downtown and to be able to see the CN Tower just across the water. I took a little mini ferry ride and caught the free shuttle bus and walked to the OLA (Ontario Librarians Association) convention.
I arrived at the convention a bit before eleven and hunted up the main desk and picked up my trade show pass.
First booth I checked out was the OLA book booth.
I was happy to see they had a stack of SINKING DEEPER – my middle reader novel – on the Silver Birch table.
They also had a separate table for SIGNED copies – so I signed a stack and put them on the table myself – after asking permission from one of the booth attendants.
I then made my way upstairs to the main display floor and found the Forest of Reading table. I was happy to speak with some of the folks who I had been previously only met through e-mail. They were likewise pleased to speak with me – and no doubt were impressed by the fact that I had actually worn a tie – even though I had to get my wife to tie it for me.
Hey – it was a new tie.
They told me that reception to my novel was VERY favorable – although some students were having a hard time ordering copies through Indigo. Apparently there is some sort of a shortage of copies.
I’ll have to look into that.
You can read more about the OLA and the Forest of Reading program right here – http://www.accessola.org/
I then found my way to the Follett table.
Follett is a big-time Canadian distributor of traditionally-published books who have branched out to distributing e-books as well to school libraries. They had asked my publisher Nimbus – as well as several other regional publishers – asking for authors to appear as guest authors at their table.
You can read more about Follett right here - http://follett.ca/
The first thing they said to me was “Hey – what a nice tie. Did you tie it yourself?”
I swear to the gods of crossed fingers behind the back that what I’m telling you is the honest living truth – so long as this month has an “R” and a “Y” and a “Z” in it.
I sat and chatted with about a dozen or so librarians from various school systems – handing each of them a SINKING DEEPER bookmark and flashing my most charming crooked grin at each of them.
I tell you – they were nothing by putty before my awesome radioactive spider crowd-shmoozing capabilities.
All kidding aside I was really blown away by how many of those librarians were actually familiar with my novel.
Some of the read it.
Some of the loved it.
One of them told me she had EIGHT copies in her library and couldn’t keep the book in stock.
Words like that make a fellow feel really good about himself.
Afterwards I headed downstairs and was greeted by Mark Leslie Lefebvre – the Director of Self Publishing and Author Relations at Kobo.
“Nice tie,” he said. “Did you tie it yourself?”
I’ve known Mark for a lot of years and it’s really great to see how well he has done for himself. He’s a great writer and a champion for indie authors – and – as some of you might already know, he was the editor of TESSERACTS 16!
(and if you click that book cover it should take you to a REALLY cool review of TESSERACTS 17!)
Mark and I made our way to a local restaurant where I had a seafood pasta – and let me tell you – authors who want to make an impression should NEVER order pasta with sticky drippy marinara sauce and shrimp that need to be finger-picked from the dish to de-shell.
We then caught a cab to the secret Kobo facilities in Toronto.
I know their location MUST be a secret – because Mark had to give directions to the cab driver at least three times before we got there.
I suppose it might not ACTUALLY be a world-class sort of secret – but just in case – maybe half of you readers should consider swallowing a cyanide capsule – if you happen to be carrying one in a hollow tooth.
Just to be safe.
I was feeling like a big old kid there at the Kobo facilities. It was in a big old brick building that looked as if it might have been a textile mill or maybe an outlet for bootleg gin. There was about four or five floors FILLED with Ikea-looking tables and eager employees working away. I swear to you that each of those desks looked exactly as messy as my own – only not half so bad as mine – so I felt completely at home.
The atmosphere was casual and yet professional and Mark displayed nothing but courtesy and respect as he took me around and introduced to me to about a couple of dozen Kobo executives.
I felt absolutely world-class.
They then lead me to a closed-in room with some brown wrapping paper stuck to the walls.
This is it, I thought to myself. I’ve broken the Kobo rule of silence and somebody is probably going to pull an Uzi out of their jacket and riddle me with bullet-holes – (but not before stealing my world-class necktie).
“We want to do a podcast,” Mark told me. “This should be our FIRST podcast for the Kobo Writing Life”.
So – instead of being shot with an Uzi they just decided to turn me into a Pod person.
And it worked, too. I am DEFINITELY a big fan of Kobo and this visit only further cemented that fact.
For me – this is the wonder that e-publishing can bring you. Here I was – a regional hybrid writer – without a world-class sales record – with out a continent sweeping reputation – being brought into the heart and headquarters of an e-publishing outfit the size of Kobo. They were holding the door for me and saying – “Hey, you just have to walk on in. Nobody is holding the door shut on you.”
Mark and I talked about some of the wonderful dashboard improvements that Kobo has in store for us writers. I had already come to the decision that Kobo is offering one of the most writer-friendliest dashboards in the business – but they are getting set to improve that very dashboard. They are adding a SALES BY REGION feature that will actually show you how your e-books are doing – country by country. Right now I can look and tell you that I’ve sold books in Canada, the UK, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and freaking Switzerland. How’s that for cool? Two of my e-books are off yodeling in the alps, dreaming of cuckoo clocks and chocolate.
Kobo is also putting the finishing touches on a feature that will let an indie writer track the sales of his free e-books – country by country. I have seen a test run and I can tell you that free copies of FLASH VIRUS: EPISODE ONE are circulating in SIXTEEN separate countries.
That is a company that listens to their authors.
That is a company that CARES!
Let’s be honest about this – my books are available in both Kindle and Kobo format – so I support BOTH companies – but I will freely say that Kobo is definitely in the running. They are coming on strong and they are constantly evolving in good hands-on practical ways that are truly designed to help us indie e-book authors.
Kobo is what you want to be watching for.
Mark and I discussed further strategies to publicize both my own work and my traditionally published Kobo-accessible work. I chatted with the marketing rep about a good price for my omnibus edition of FLASH VIRUS that will be coming out later this month. We talked with the promotional rep about various promotional tactics I might use.
Then Mark gave me a taxi chit and called a cab for me and I headed back to Billy Bishop airfield to head on home.
“Nice tie,” the cab driver.
“Yes,” I said. “I tied it myself.”
Hey, I’m a writer – I tell lies for money.
I had a quick flight to Montreal but my flight back to Halifax was delayed by almost two hours.
I phoned my wife – who phoned Driver Dave’s to make certain they were aware of my delay.
I got into Halifax and was happily surprised to find Dave himself waiting for me to land.
He didn’t say one thing about my tie.
yours in storytelling,
(Note: contrary to the evidence provided by the above photo I DO know how to do up my collar button, and I do USUALLY keep my suit collar turned down , and I DO occasionally comb my hair and I’m working on that whole tie-tying concept)