Saturday, September 26, 2015

My Most Popular Youtube Video is Cheesy and Involves a Treadmill Desk...

It's curious what one becomes semi-famous for...
What I don't mention on the video is that if you walk backwards on the treadmill desk you go back in time. The '80s weren't as cool as I remember them...    


Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Perfect Editor

My publisher, HarperCollins Canada, is looking for a new editor. But they forgot to add a few qualifications. So I helped them out:   Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 7.32.12 AM

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Canadian Adventure Prize Pack

Canadian Prize Pack final
Well, here it is! The Canadian Adventure Prize Pack. Trains! Zombies! Zeppelins! Magicians & Masterminds! My publisher, the honourable HarperCollins Canada, has generously offered this package of books to help promote my nearly famous newsletter. In order to win the amazingly adventurous books above all you have to do is enter here:

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

But if you want to double your chances of winning then sign up for my newsletter in the contest form above!

My gluten-free monthly newsletter is titled Arthur Slade's Somewhat Clever Newsletter. It's jam packed with news, writing tips, humour, and lettuce and bacon. It has everything! And there's also a prize every month (because it's fun to give away things). The prizes range from author Skype visits to books to critiques,'s endless. As you can tell I have a lot of fun with it.

 FYI: The adventurous books are Zomboy by Richard Scrimger, Saving Houdini by Michael Redhill, Masterminds by Gordon Kormon, The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel and The Hunchback Assignments by some guy who writes things sometimes.

Have a gloriously adventurous day! Contest closes Oct. 31st, 2015.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

This is what happens when someone with 1.34 million followers retweets you...

Iron Maiden
The short story: A heavy metal fan gets retweeted by his favourite band and experiences a modicum of fame.

The detailed story: So, I'm an unabashed heavy metal head. I know. Several people have stopped reading this already. But the rest of you, please read along--there will be no gushing about "the 1980's was the greatest metal decade ever!" Yesterday, Iron Maiden released its new album The Book of Souls and to celebrate I decided to tweet a picture of the Iron Maiden jean jacket I painted back when I was in Grade Eleven. This is my tweet:

 Funny, eh? I was amazed I could still almost fit into the jacket (as long as I didn't try to do the buttons up). The official Iron Maiden twitter account kindly retweeted my nostalgic tweet. Here's a screen grab of their twitter page:

As you can see they have 1.34 million followers. That's million with an M. I was both over the moon that some tiny portion of the Iron Maiden machine had noticed me and really curious what would happen with my tweet. So here are the official stats of that tweet:
  maidentweetresultOf those 1.34 million people who follow Iron Maiden on Twitter 52,671 of them looked at the tweet (or at least it appeared briefly on their screens). But 4860 engaged directly with it. That is they clicked to see the larger photo or  expanded the "details" about it. 275 of those people "favorited" the tweet. 177 clicked on my profile. And 70 retweeted my tweet. And you can see by the number of replies that it led to some conversations with fellow fans (one even said, "up the irons" in solidarity). And 5 of them began to follow me.

5 new followers? Out of a possible 1.34 million? I wasn't surprised by that. After all only a small portion (or should I say a smidgen) would be interested in a YA writer.

I think this does show the level of engagement on twitter. Only a small percentage of the Iron Maiden twitter followers looked at my tweet (I'm sure a good portion of people just tune in every once in a while so the tweet vanished on their feeds). As an author, I wasn't expecting to sell books to these people, I just wanted to have fun. And it was fun. And it only took me a few minutes to take the pic and tweet it, so no "work" time was lost. Plus, did I mention that @ironmaiden retweeted me! If only I could tell my 1984 self that this was going to happen. His head would explode.*


 *of course I'd have to explain what Twitter was first, oh and the internet and mention that Iron Maiden inconceivably put out two albums without Bruce Dickinson's a long list.

 PS. This last photo is for those who are not faint of heart:
  IMG_3944   See. It almost fits.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Margaret Atwood for Canadian Prime Minister

Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 4.47.39 PM 
  The Short Story I try to find a better choice for Prime Minister of Canada and come up with one conclusion. 
  The Whole Story: I'm saddened by the fact that we only have three choices for Prime Minister in this Canadian election and they're all male (I do realize I'm leaving out Elizabeth May but the Green wave is more of a conscientious trickle right now). I've thought long and hard about what we can do to get more and better choices. There's a team at work in the bunker trying to defrost Diefenbaker, but he may not be ready in time for October 19th, 2015. So my vote is with Margaret Atwood for Prime Minister of Canada. She's the woman to get the job done right. Here's how she would handle the important issues:

  The Economy: Not a problem for PM Atwood. She's part poet. And poets are profusely proficient at pinching pennies. So our 1.83 Trillion dollar economy would be more than enough for room and board for every Canadian (and in their free time they could write poems). In fact our economy, being poetry based, would grow from both the heart and the head outwards.

  Foreign Policy: Are you worried about Putin messing with Ukraine? Just tell PM Atwood that Putin changed the last line in The Handmaid's Tale to "and it all ended happily ever after." Her icy glare would drive him straight back to the Kremlin. In fact she can reshape borders with that glare. Presidents fear it! Prime ministers and dictators put on sunglasses to avoid it. So all of our foreign problems would be solved with just one raising of her angry eyebrow (you may be curious about the icy glare. All authors have a patented icy glare. They develop it from attending galas where people say such things as, "Oh, you're a writer--what do you do for a real job?"). You do not want to ever push her to defcan 1.*

  The Hair: Face it. This is an election about hair. She outclasses all three leaders in this important department. They fear her hair.

  Healthcare: Not a problem for PM Atwood. She's a senior citizen. Seniors know healthcare. Just go to your local drug store or doctor's office and ask one. Then go and buy some Q-tips because you'll have had an earful.

  Terrorism: Prime Minister Atwood would not be afraid of the terrorist threat that surrounds us so ubiquitously. According to a quick calculation on Goodreads she has personally caused three apocalypses, mercilessly offed 872 characters (not bad, but not George RR Martin numbers) and destroyed twelve marriages. What? That was all fiction! Just imagine if she could rewrite real life from the PMO's office.

  The Arts & the CBC & Other Leftist Troughs: She would cut the arts. After all, with our presumptiously profuse and poetic economy pumping to perfection everyone will be buying books and watching Canadian movies and singing Canadian songs left, right and centre. Hockey players will recite poetry instead of fighting. Peter Mansbridge will don a beret and do the news "beatnik" style. And Mike Duffy will do dramatic recitations of a play called MacDuff: Everyone Look At Me and My Bank Account.

  The Military: PM Atwood would become our military.

 So there you have it. Margaret Atwood is the best choice for Prime Minister of Canada. It's time to write a real change!  Everyone grab their pens and vote! #Atwood4PM

 *Defcan 1 is not a band that plays music on CBC. It's a state of military readiness in Canada. It means hockey stick in hand and ready to perform a full out body check. Defcon 1 (in case you're wondering) is the defense readiness condition (DEFCON) of the American military.  It means nuclear war imminent. Or in layman's terms: fire all your guns and jump in your bunker. Make sure you have some good reading material while you're there.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

See My Editor Tear My Work to Shreds

The Short version:
An author tries not to cry as he reads the "suggested" changes from his editor on the first page of his manuscript.

The Details
This is a page from my soon to be released book, Flickers. It's a novel set in Hollywood during the silent movie era. I've lost track of how many drafts I've done of this book. Let's just put it at more than ten and fewer than two hundred. And yet, there are still mistakes made. Places that can be cleaned up. Prose that can be un-purpled. And that's why we have editors (this post goes hand in hand with my "My Editor Says These Two Words I Use Make Kitties Cry" post).

The Edits
Just click on the image to make it bigger. Click a second time and it will grow even bigger. Click a third time and you'll be able to see the tear stains on the page.
Gratingly yours,

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Shaun the Sheep is Brilliant

 Brilliant! Any movie that can entertain my six-year-old (and me) for an hour and a half is perfect. On top of that, there's no intelligible dialogue--the humans mumble, the sheeps (sic) bleat, the dogs bark. The whole story is implied by facial expressions, set-up, and excellent visual story telling. As someone who has been watching silent films as research for my latest novel, this is in many ways an ode to that style of film making. The only words you'll hear are in the excellent soundtrack. So...two hooves up for this one.

 Claymation = awesomeness.