Monday, November 21, 2016

Town & Train: A Manly Book!

Had some hot sales at the recent Hintonburg Community Craft Sale. Sold some copies of Town & Train. Me fair wife sold some of her books too and our son stole the show selling out all of his handmade rainbow loom jewelry. I also donated a copy of Train to the silent auction. There was some debate among the organizers about the interesting-looking book, so they upgraded it and included the novel in a men's basket, which also included locally made men's health products and craft beer. So Town & Train is officially a men's gift that can accompany other manly things. So one can safely say—scrub up and moisturize yourself afterward, grab a craft brewsky and crack open yer copy of Town & Train. And feel very manly about it.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Naked Heart Festival: An LGBTQ Festival of Words

Friday, Nov 11 thru Saturday, Nov 13, 2016
Toronto, Various Venues

I'm proud to be part of Glad Day Bookshop's and Glad Day Lit's second annual NAKED HEART – An LGBTQ Festival of Words. 

Over 90 authors have confirmed for the stellar lineup, which includes Felice Picano
Hasan Namir, Farzana Doctor, Jeffrey Round, Liz Bugg, Francisco Ibanez-Carrasco and Rae Spoon. 

This festival in the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood of Toronto includes workshops, panels, performances & discussions for writers and lovers of words. 

The venues are Glad Day Bookshop (499 Church Street), Buddies In Bad Time Theatre (12 Alexander Street), the Xtra Lounge (2 Carlton) and The 519 (519 Church Street). All spaces are wheelchair accessible and ASL will be provided all day Saturday and Sunday in one venue.

Launched in 2015, Naked Heart is already the largest and most diverse LGBTQ literary festival in the world with over 2,000 attendees. In 2015, the festival had over 120 writers present at 47 events.

Speculative Brunch at Naked Heart Festival this Sat

Speculative Brunch reading at 
Naked Heart Festival: An LGBTQ Festival of Words
Wanna' hear some fine speculative fiction? I tell ya, we've got horror, fantasy, sci-fi and romance. I'll be reading from my new novel Monster Mansion (working title) at the Speculative Brunch on Sat, Nov12 at this year's Naked Heart Festival. We'll be at Glad Day Books' new digs at 499 Church St. Where are you gonna be? However, don't come just to hear me. I'm the company of Steven Bereznai, 'Nathan Burgoine, J. m. Frey, Michael Lyons, Stephen Graham King (the other Stephen King, as I call him) and the gracious David Demchuk.  
All author photos courtesy of the authors' websites.

The link to this fine Speculative Brunch is here. And if you're wondering about what to eat, I'd venture a guess that this rag-tag crew is so adorable you could just eat them up.

The full schedule is here.
As the little girl almost said in the film Poltergeist, "We're back!"
From left to right: J. M. Frey, Yours Truly, Michael "Mikey" Lyons snapping
the group selfie,'Nathan Burgoine and Stephen Graham King.
Photo from the 2015 Naked Heart courtesy of Mikey.

And check out these bios of these fine authors.

J. M. Frey
J. M. Frey’s debut novel Triptych  was nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards, won the San Francisco Book Festival award for SF/F, was nominated for a 2011 CBC Bookie,  was named one of The Advocate’s Best Overlooked Books of 2011 , and garnered both a starred review and a place among the Best Books of 2011 from Publishers Weekly. Her sophomore novel, an epic-length feminist meta-fantasy titled The Untold Tale, (book one of the Accidental Turn Series), debuted December 2015. The Skylark’s Song, book one of The Skylark’s Saga, a steampunk action novel about a girl vigilante and her mysterious rocketpack, soars into book stores in 2017.

Yours Truly: James K. Moran
James K. Moran’s fiction and poetry have appeared in various Canadian, American and British publications, including Bywords, Glitterwolf: Halloween, Empty Mirror Magazine, Icarus, On Spec, Postscripts to Darkness 3, and The Rolling Darkness Revue. A longtime contributor to Daily Xtra, Moran’s articles and reviews have also appeared in a wide variety of media, including Arc Poetry Magazine, Daily Xtra, Matrix Magazine, the Ottawa Citizen and Rue Morgue. He lives and dreams in Ottawa, Canada, blogging at His debut horror novel, Town & Train, is available from Lethe Press.

Michael Lyons
Michael Lyons is a queer-identified, chaotic neutral writer, activist, misanthrope, sapiosexual, and feline enthusiast. He is a columnist, blogger and regular contributor with Xtra and has contributed to Plenitude Magazine, KAPSULA Magazine, Crew Magazine, Memory Insufficient e-zine, The Ryersonian, Buddies Theatre blog, Toronto Is Awesome blog and Fab Magazine and more.

'Nathan Burgoine
'Nathan Burgoine grew up a reader and studied literature in university while making a living as a bookseller. His first published short story was "Heart" in the collection Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction. Since then, he has had over two dozen short stories published, and his first novel Light is now available in e-book and print from Bold Strokes Books. A cat lover, 'Nathan managed to fall in love and marry Daniel, who is a confirmed dog person. Their ongoing "cat or dog?" détente ended with the adoption of Coach, a six year-old husky. They live in Ottawa, Canada, where socialized health care and gay marriage have yet to cause the sky to cave in.
Stephen Graham King
Born on the prairies, Stephen Graham King has since traded the big sky for the big city and now lives in Toronto. His first book, Just Breathe, tells the blunt, funny, and uncompromising story of his three-year battle with metastatic synovial sarcoma. Since then, his short fiction has appeared in the anthologies North of Infinity II (“Pas de Deux”), Desolate Places (“Nor Winter’s Cold”) and Ruins Metropolis (“Burning Stone”). His first novel, Chasing Cold, was released in 2012. He is also an artist, working primarily in acrylics, but also dabbling in photography. He also loves to cook, so if you ask very, very nicely, he might make you dinner. More about his writing and art, as well as some of his favorite recipes, can be found on his website.

Steven Bereznai 
Steven Bereznai's newest book is I Want Superpowers, a dystopian YA novel, available for pre-order on Amazon (Kindle) and other online stores. Print orders available later in November, 2016. Bereznai's first book, Gay and Single...Forever, was released in 2006, followed by his novels Queeroes and Queeroes 2. His writing is also featured in the anthologies Second Person Queer, I Like It Like That, Singleism, The Lavender Menace, and Best Gay Romance 2010. Bereznai is a former editor-in-chief of fab magazine and FAB STYLE QUARTERLY. His articles have appeared in PAX, Passport, Instinct, The Toronto Star, VIA Destinations, Now, Xtra!, Icon, and of course, fab. Bereznai, a recreational water polo player and fan of science fiction, also loves travel writing and watches way too much T.V.

David Demchuk
A playwright, independent filmmaker, screenwriter, essayist, critic and journalist, and radio dramatist, David Demchuk has been writing for theatre, film, television, radio and other media for more than 30 years. In 2011, named him one of the top 25 most influential LGBT people on twitter worldwide.His debut horror novel, The Bone Mother, will be published by ChiZine Publications in Spring 2017. A staged version titled The Thimble Factory was presented at Videofag in Toronto in October 2015. Known primarily for his work in Canadian theatre, David’s plays have been produced in Toronto, New York, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver, Chicago, San Francisco, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and in London, England. His publications include the short-fiction cycle Seven Dreams and the collected Alice in Cyberspace episodes in book form, appearances in anthologies Making Out! (Touch), Outspoken (Rosalie Sings Alone) and Canadian Brash (If Betty Should Rise and Rosalie Sings Alone). His reviews, essays, interviews and columns in such magazines as Toronto Life, The Body Politic, Xtra!, What! Magazine,Cinema Canada and Prairie Fire, as well as the Toronto Star. Most recently, he has been a contributing writer at Torontoist. Demchuk was born and raised in Winnipeg and now lives in Toronto.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Had a Great OIW Panel with Robin Riopelle on Building Tension

Promo shot for our Building Tension panel. I like how
Robin and myself have our backs to each other.
To build tension.
Thanky you, Con Cú  and Benoit Chartier, for arranging the thoroughly enjoyable panel that Robin Riopelle  and I sat on for Ottawa Independent Writers last Thursday, Oct27. Despite the snowy and rainy weather, a fierce turnout of at least 40 attendees showed up at the Good Companions Seniors' Centre to hear Robin and I talk about building tension and suspense in our books. She read from her fabulous supernatural suspense novel Deadroads (that I kept gushing about) and I read from Town & Train. The room was great, and brought up great questions. Robin is always so gracious. All in all, we had a fantastic evening. And, because I don't have pics from the event, I will have to share this great promo shot again of Robin and myself and the railroad tracks. Trains and railroad tracks are the common elements in our first novels.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Horror Writers Association issues statement about keeping Halloween

So this what happens when you dislike Hallowe'en being called Character Day and Dance by your kid's public school. If you're a horror writer, and you're lucky, the worldwide Horror Writers Association (HWA) issues an official umbrella statement regarding their stance on keeping Hallowe'en Hallowe'en. My many thanks to HWA president Lisa Morton and the board in their speedy, timely assistance in my cause that I couldn't carry as much as I wanted to. This year.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Tree Seeds Workshop A Rewarding Success

Plaid aplenty!Yours truly with workshop coordinator,
the gracious and charming Chris Johnson.
Thank you, workshop coordinator Chris Johnson and co-directors Colin Morton and Pearl Pirie for lettin' me do a Tree Reading Series Seeds Workshop on Oct 25 about Speculative Fiction and Place at Gallery 101. On the gloomy October evening, my workshop folks brightened my spirits, asking such thoughtful questions that I learned a few things. The reading afterward by D.S. Stymeist and Richard Harrison played to a good house of about 50 people. Harrison's selections, about father-son relationships in early life and end of life, nearly moved me to tears several times.  Pphotos courtesy of Archibald Lampman winner, Pearl Pirie.
The author menacing workshop attendeees,

Monday, October 3, 2016

Best Halloween Movie Picks

I always think up great Hallowe'en viewing recommendations. Unfortunately, I never post these recommendations until about the last week of October. So, this year, I have come up with a list a few weeks early. I may add or alter or edit this list in the coming weeks. However, I stand by this list.

So, ya like scary flicks? Do you like them with a Hallowe'en bent? An autumnal setting, with the leaf-stripped trees and dusk-light of October? Well, then look no further. Here are my picks of movies, some scary goodies and spooky laughs, that I’ve watched a few times, and plan to again. Any great piece of cinema is worth re-watching. These are my re-watchable gems.

Scary Goodies

It Follows
It’s no secret that I liked this flick quite a lot, as I reviewed it here on Oct. 25, 2015. In a sense, It Follows is John Carpenter's Halloween 38 years later. There's a new monster. The setting is a dilapidated suburb outside of Detroit that could very well be the same 'burb from HalloweenThis timeless setting could be in the 1970’s, 1980’s or 1990’s. Here, a sexually-transmitted monster stalks its young victims. Having sex with a new person is the only way to rid yourself of the monster so that it kills someone else. The film is a heady mix of symbolism and discomfiting sexual metaphors. The heroine possesses an intimate connection to nature. The cast of unknowns delivers elevating performances in a film that doesn't have clear rules of engagement with the supernatural.
The Monster Squad
Mock all you want, but this little 1987 B-movie pits young teens against monsters in Small Town, America. Sound a little like Stranger Things? Certainly, it's shorter and less subtle and not intentionally nostalgia-drenched, but there are parallels between Monster Squad and Stranger Things. However, the monsters are of the classic Universal Studios variety or Universal Monsters as they used to call 'em. Dracula is getting the band back together, including the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Mummy, The Wolfman and Frankenstein’s monster. There are consequences. People get hurt. There’s even a bit of a Ray Bradbury feel with characters befriending the monster.  Stephen King references lurk, even on a main character's cheap T-shirt. To top it all off, each character gets their own development. So what if the film clutches the tradition of the 1980's montage a little too close to its heart? And so what if everyone talks in a rapport reminiscent of many other films of the era? The picture is great fun and still good, years later. Monster Squad even warranted a twentieth anniversary edition that is a rare find for any horror film collector.

This was the coolest poster ever, back in
'87. It's aged fairly well, all things
The Lost Boys
Speaking of 1980’s fare, The Lost Boys hit all the right notes in the summer of 1987, despite Joel Schumacher’s attempt to make a piece of simple summer popcorn entertainment. The acting, the music, the mise-en-scene, all added up to more than the sum of its parts. Thanks to Schumacher, vampires were cool and sexy again. Teenagers having breathless first dates could get their fix of new Gothic cinema. The cast also did a great job. Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland is charismatic and beguiling as the leader of the pack of teenaged vampires. Jason Patric is engrossing as the brooding Jim Morrison avator in a film laden with Doors references. Jami Gertz is lovely and a young adolescent’s sacred Madonna. The Coreys, Corey Haim and Feldman, perform their teen antics well. Now when I re-watch this flick I relate more to Dianne Wiest, the mother of the two Coreys and Jason, than I do the teens because, well, I’m more of a parent now than a teen. And the soundtrack, anthem rock, raised to a religious height in spots, simply soars. Check out the boys again. You won’t be sorry.

Trick 'r Treat
A newer film, surely, this is an American-Canadian anthology horror anthology film (think Tales from the Crypt) tying together interlocking stories on Halloween night. The movie is downright shameless in its drenching of every scene in iconic Halloween atmosphere and accoutrements. Director/writer Michael Dougherty took his animated short of the same name and stretched its legs to make Trick 'r Treat, which he shot in Vancouver. The cast is generally less known. Brian Cox, as a reclusive, is adept. Anna Paquin, in her pre-True Blood days, is a fine babe in the woods. Dylan Baker is a simmering pot of murderous intent. The studio thought this movie would bust at the box office, so after a limited screening at film festivals in late 2007 and in 2008 as well as a delayed promise for a wider theatrical releaseTrick 'r Treat went direct-to-DVD in October 2009. And thank gods for that. Werewolves, serial killers, ghosts and a demonic pumpkin-headed killer deliver tricks in this treat that we can all enjoy now.

Near Dark
Director Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark (Bigelow of The Hurt Locker and Blue Steel fame) came out in October 1987, only two months after The Lost Boys. But hers was no romp but grit, a noir revisioning of the whole vampire genre. Featuring a cast of mainly unknowns, save for a young Bill Paxton as Severin and Lance Henriksen as Jesse Hooker, Near Dark follows a wandering brood of vampires who wreak havoc wherever they go. Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar), a young cowboy, meets the attractive Mae (Jenny Wright) at a bar. The only catch is that she is one of the undead. This fact adds a tragic, day-and-night fatalist twist to their doomed love affair. What also sets this influential and creepy tale apart from any such horror films of the era is that the vampires have no fangs. That, and the fact that Bigelow's modern masterpiece is set somewhere in the MidWest. This is a vampire western, kiddies, and only a director as talented as Bigelow could have pulled it off. While weird western horror has been popular in speculative fiction, stretching as far back as the early days of Weird Tales magazine, cinematic treatments were rare in the late 1980's. This marked a seismic change from vampire films that either occurred in the remote countryside in classic Horror films, or generally in urban settings. An unforgiving sense of consequence and nihilism also pervade the film. Watch for Bill Paxton complaining, "I hate it when they don't  shave!" Athough I'll doubt you'll miss that.

Some Spooky Laughs for Hallowe'en Viewing

Young Frankenstein
Director Mel Brooks' 1973 film is a wonderful, ingenius, senseless send-up of the 1931 Frankenstein film and later Universal films of the genre.Gene Wilder is masterful as Dr. Frederick Frankenstien and Marty Feldman plays a great straight Igor to his lunatic. A young and sexy Teri Garr play Inga and Cloris Leachman is riotous as Frau Blücher. 

What We Do In the Shadows
Directors Jemaine Clement's and Taika Waitit's 2014 New Zealand mockumentary horror comedy wooed me during the opening credits. In fact, if you are not laughing during the opening montage sequence, which gleefully portrays the histories of various vampires, you may not have a pulse yourself. The premise is simple, as a in reality-television simple. A documentary crew is granted permission to film four vampires who are flatmates. Everything in this loving mockery of vampire lore is hilarious. Even so, the special effects are believable and this story has heart, albeit an undead one that doesn't beat. This is easily the funniest piece of horror I have seen in a decade.

Dracula: Dead and Loving It
Mel Brook's 1995 satire sends up Dracula films from the early 1930's to the then-present day. Leslie Neilsen stars as the bloodsucking fiend and hams up his reliable straight man schtick with aplomb. Adopting the same tone as the Naked Gun and Airplane! flicks to great effect, Dead and Loving It is meant to be enjoyed as cheese on a grand scale. Like cheese on cheese platter scale. Pass the fanged Gouda, please.