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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Launching Leap Of Faith

Another book launch party has now come and gone!

We had a great turnout for Leap of Faith's kickoff this afternoon, hosting 31 people along with Vicki, Susan Garner, Emma and ye olde author himself.  As usual, I didn't get nearly enough time with each attendee as I'd have liked, but that just seems to be the nature of the beast.  Hopefully everyone understands that, and no one felt neglected.

Before most of the people arrived, Emma took this lovely photo of Vicki, Rich and I showing off my four novels.  Not a bad start to my body of work, I'd say!


If you couldn't make the party but want to get your hands on Leap of Faith, get a hold of me any time now and we'll set up an opportunity to make that happen.  Though the list of readers of the book is still quite small at the moment, every bit of feedback I've gotten so far has been very positive.  Leap of Faith definitely seems to be a winner, and that's all I could ever ask for.

Raising A Moral Child

Via Tammy, here's a great article about various studies done on the topic of how to raise a moral child. There are lots of gems in there, including experimental proof of the old adage, "Actions speak louder than words."  It really puts the boot to the notion that parents can successfully preach one type of behaviour to their kids without living by those same standards themselves.  You really do have to model the sort of principles and values you want your children to adopt, it turns out.

Friday, April 11, 2014

How We're Losing Our Ability To Read Deeply

I found this article on how our human brains are adapting to the cursory reading style of the Internet fascinating.  I've always been a skimmer when I want or need to be, something I picked up back in elementary school when I was part of a trial speed reading program.  I found I could, with practice, dramatically increase my reading speed while only suffering moderate reduction in comprehension of the material.  To me, this seemed like a useful skill, though not something I'd want to do all the time.  As an example, I decided to read Heart of Darkness a year or two ago on Vicki's Kindle because I'd always been interested in learning how it influenced Apocalypse Now, one of my favourite movies, and yet had never tried the book before.  Within a few pages of starting it, though, I realized it wasn't written in a style that I'd personally enjoy.  So I kicked into high-speed and blew through it in about half an hour, picking up most of the key points of the plot without spending any time absorbing the nuances or even most of the word choices.  In general, though, I'd never read a book that way as I want to lose myself in it and savour every bit of it.

Anyway, it sounds like more and more people are (perhaps unintentionally) adapting their reading style to a similar cursory approach, thanks to the Web.  Studies are finding that people miss out on many of the details or even quit reading partway through, especially if they're reading on a screen rather than a paper page, simply because their attention wanders or they get bored.  It's pretty frightening to think that's the way current and future generations are headed, considering how much learning and unadulterated fun can be found by reading, if you invest yourself into it.

Needless to say, I hope that Leap of Faith and all my other novels continue to capture readers' imaginations and keep the pages a-turning.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Big News: Colbert To Replace David Letterman On Late Show

As a one-time fan of David Letterman (back in his NBC days) and a big-time fan of Stephen Colbert and The Colbert Report, today's news that the latter funnyman is taking over the former's spot on The Late Show is both exciting and worrisome.  Colbert's on-screen persona as a staunch conservative buffoon is, presumably, not the one taking over the hosting role on CBS.  It'll be the real Stephen Colbert, I would imagine, sitting behind the desk, rather than the satirical character he first developed on The Daily Show.  If so, it's exciting to think that we'll get to know the real man, but sad to consider losing the great figure he spent so many years perfecting.  I guess we'll have to wait and see just how it all plays out, though.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Launch Of Leap Of Faith Now Less Than A Week Away!

Six days from right about now, we'll be hosting a party to get Leap of Faith off the launchpad and up into orbit.  I've already heard from a few early birds who've gotten their hands on copies of my fourth novel ahead of the party, and they're all telling me that they can't put the book down.  I think binge reading may end up being a "major problem" where this book's concerned, if the first readers are anything to go by.  But what a nice problem to have...

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

How Long And Cold Was The Winter?

Well, we just pulled the corner back on the pool cover, intending to drop the submergible pump in and lower the water level... only to discover there's several inches of solid ice on top of the water!  We've actually never seen that before.  As Vicki says, it's probably partially due to the fact that we didn't have much in the way of mid-winter thaws this year, as well as all the ridiculously cold temperatures we've hit over the past three or four months.

So it looks like we'll have to wait a while for that ice to melt before we can begin to deal with the excess water in the pool.  What a crazy winter... it just doesn't want to end!

Monday, March 31, 2014

X:Men: Days Of Future Past Trailer Blows My Mind

This... looks... amazing!



"Days of Future Past," from Uncanny X-Men # 141 & 142, remains one of the best X-Men stories ever, even 30+ years later.  And so to see it adapted into a major motion picture, directed by Bryan Singer and starring (among others) Ian McKellan, Patrick Steward, Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Peter Dinklage, Ellen Page and Anna Paquin?  Sheer fanboy joy!

It comes out May 23rd, a mere 7 and a half weeks from now.  By then I'll probably have seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier twice (we've already got tickets for this weekend coming up), which should make the waiting a whole lot easier.  What a great start to the year in terms of superhero movies!  (And considering the storyline of my latest novel, I'd say 2014 may just be the Year of Time Travel!)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Alien: Isolation May Be Just The Game For Me

As this hands-on preview of the upcoming Alien: Isolation notes, it's been a tough last stretch for gamers who also happen to be Alien fans.  I had such high hopes for the return of Aliens Vs Predator a few years ago and yet it totally let me down.  And then Alien: Colonial Marines ended up making the merely-lackluster AVP look like gold, by comparison.

Now, though, there's an incredible amount of excitement around Alien: Isolation, with its focus on horror and survival instead of gunplay and mayhem.  In other words, it has much more in common with Ridley Scott's 1979 Alien than James Cameron's Aliens from 1986 (both of which I love, though I prefer the original over the sequel).  The description of it, linked to above, makes it sound like exactly the sort of game I'd enjoy playing in the dark, squirming in my seat as I try to stay alive.

Of course, I've been fooled before... after all, both AVP and A:CM had lots of hype before they came out, too.  Here's hoping this time it doesn't all turn to shit when the product actually arrives.

[Update moments later: Another article I just read on the game mentions that it's not due out until October 7.  That's a long six months from now!]

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Your First Small Sample Of My New Book, Leap Of Faith

We're just over two weeks away from the Book Launch Party for Leap of Faith, so I thought now might be a good time to publish the first snippet from it, just to whet everyone's appetite.  This excerpt is taken from the first chapter:

“Hey, I totally forgot to tell you,” I say to Keri-Anne as we take our dinner dishes to the kitchen following a long discussion of last night’s Mad Men.  “I met a guy today who claimed to be a time traveler.” 

“He actually said he was a time traveler?” Keri-Anne replies, her eyes wide and a skeptical look on her face.

“That’s exactly what he said.  ‘I’m actually a time traveler.’  Very matter-of-fact, like he’d just told me he wrestles alligators for a living.”  As I load up the dishwasher, I add, “And then he smiled.”

“C’mon, Maggie,” she responds, squinting at me.  “A time traveler?”

“I swear,” I tell her.  “Those were his exact words.”

“So what did you do?”

“I laughed, like he was joking.  And then I pretended to study Sunnyside’s dessert menu until he left the place.”

“And he had just come up to you, right out of the blue, to tell you this?”

“No,” I reply with mock seriousness, “we had a whole little conversation before that.  He came over to my table while I was waiting for the bill for my lunch, and asked if I could help him find the ROM.  He had a folded up map of Toronto in his hands.”

“An actual paper map?” Keri-Anne asks, surprised.  “Holy!  Maybe he really was a time traveler.  From the 1950s, by the sounds of it.  Did you ask him if he’d heard of Google Maps?   Or cell phones, computers, or that newfangled Internet thing?”

“No,” I laugh, “I just showed him where we were on the map, and where the museum is, and then we talked about the best route for him to take to get there.  He said he was planning to walk, and I told him it wasn’t all that far so he shouldn’t have any problem.”

“And…?”

“And then he thanked me, and was about to leave when he dropped the time traveling bomb on my head,” I tell her, as I start the machine going and motion Keri-Anne toward the living room.  “Sure you don’t want a beer for a change?  Or a glass of wine?”

“No thanks, I’m good with water, same as always.”

I grab a Blue out of the fridge, refill her glass with tap water and follow her to the other room.  She’s taken her usual spot, stretched out on the sofa that she and Gramps used to watch the TV from.  I set her water on the coffee table within easy reach, and then plunk myself down across from her in the recliner and take a long pull on my beer.

After a moment she asks, “Did you at least find out his name?  Before he turned out to be crazy, I mean.”

“Oh, of course I did.  I found out all about him, don’t you know?  His full name is William Christopher McBrewster the third.  He’s a Capricorn who enjoys moonlit walks on the beach, reciting poetry in the nude and rescuing animals from scientific experimentation.  He learned how to time travel from a Tibetan monk who tragically died just seconds after passing his secret on.”

Keri-Anne giggles all the way through my little speech, and then asks, “And did he happen to have a tin foil hat on, by any chance?”

“Not that I noticed.  Seriously, he seemed like a normal enough guy up to that point.  Well-spoken.  Polite.  Pretty good conversationalist, actually.  Mid-30s looking with a slight paunch.  Collared shirt, expensive slacks, nice shoes.  Not exactly what you’d expect from some nut-job off his meds, wandering along Bloor Street.”

I push the recliner back about a quarter of the way and settle myself in.   I might as well get comfortable, as I imagine we’re both going to be here a while.

“Anyway,” I continue, “you know what I always say: the men I meet inevitably end up being married, gay or total psychos.  At least this guy self-classified in the first few minutes, which was pretty considerate of him, when you stop and think about it.”

“OK,” Keri-Anne says, as she sits up to take a sip of water, “but what if he hadn’t?  Self-classified with the time traveler comment, I mean.  Would you have been interested?”

“You mean, would I have said, ‘Well, as a matter of fact, I’m headed to the Royal Ontario Museum myself today.  What say we make an outing of it and stroll there together?’  Is that what you’re asking?”

Smiling, she replies, “I just wondered what you thought of him, that’s all.  You said he looked like he was in his mid-30s.  That’s OK, right?  I mean, that’s within your acceptable age range, isn’t it?”

I laugh.  “‘Acceptable age range.’  As if.  I keep telling you: I don’t have a big long list of qualifications, when it comes to guys.”

“I wonder if Mr. Time Traveler’s married?” she asks, in a whimsical voice.  “Do you think there’s a Mrs. Time Traveler out there, somewhere?”

“Ha.  I definitely don’t have a clue.  We only talked for a few minutes, like I told you.”

“Hmmm.  Was he wearing a wedding ring?  Not that guys don’t sometimes take theirs off when they’re out of the house.”

“Geez, Keri-Anne, who notices whether somebody’s wearing a wedding ring when you only spend, like, two minutes giving them directions?”

“I only asked because… Well, if he’s in his 30s and not married, what could that tell us about him?”

“He might be desperate, which could only have worked to my advantage.  Is that what you’re implying?”

She laughs and shakes her head.

“Don’t worry, I’m not about to leave all this behind,” I inform her, sweeping my right arm up to take in the surroundings I grew up in, “to go traipsing around through time, like some Doctor Who companion.  Besides,” I add, leaning forward to pick up the paperback that’s resting beside the recliner, “I’ve got a really good book right now, so why do I need a man?  He’d just screw up my life, especially if he was going to show up tonight to apologize for a fight we’re going to have next week.”

A Perfect Day In Toronto

On Monday of this week Vicki and I headed to Toronto for the day.  I had been asked to get a high resolution scan of my Watchmen page for inclusion in an upcoming over-sized hardcover book of Watchmen artwork being published by comic company IDW.  They periodically release "coffee table books" featuring original art that's of particular interest to fans, and Watchmen certainly qualifies in that category (it's often referred to as "the Citizen Kane of comic books").  The editor of the art book, Scott Dunbier, had put me in touch with Toronto comic artist J Bone, whose work I'd recently enjoyed in the Spirit/Rocketeer 4-issue miniseries from IDW, and who had a high-res scanner that I could use.  Since we were going to Toronto to get that done, we invited Tammy and Ryan to meet us for dinner later in the day, and just like that: we had a day-trip planned!

I wasn't sure what to expect when we got to the artist's apartment, as I'd never met him before or even read an interview with him.  Any concerns we had, though, were completely wiped away in the first few minutes of the visit.  J greeted us at the door with a huge smile and made us feel completely at home.  His apartment was amazing: walls of bookshelves filled with graphic novels, art books, movie DVDs, and action figures of all kinds.  In other words, our kind of place!  Before long, J and I were geeking out on various comic and movie topics, and then he and Vicki realized they had classic Sci Fi books in common, and off they went in that direction.  J turned out to be one of the nicest and friendliest comic pros we've ever met, and we've met a lot in Chicago and elsewhere over the years.

More than an hour after we got there, we all remembered we were supposed to be scanning some artwork, and so we got busy with that.  Then it was more chatting and swapping stories, and before we knew it, we'd taken up two hours of J's time and Tammy & Ryan were waiting for us at the nearby restaurant.  Oops...  It'd been way too much fun and neither of us wanted to leave, but we had other fun to get to and J had artwork to finish for a deadline.  Vicki thought to grab a photo before we took off, though:


And we didn't leave empty-handed, as J very kindly gave me the first 3 issues of his current Image series with James Robinson, The Saviors.  I've since read and enjoyed them very much, and will be picking up all of the future issues at the store as they come out.  Yay: yet another creator-owned Image title for me to happily support!

We capped the day off with a wonderful dinner at a pizza place Tammy recommended, getting to spend a couple of hours with two of our favourite people.  Lots more excellent, non-stop conversation ensued about work, movies, TV shows and whatever else came to mind.

And then we braved a couple of white-outs on the 403 and 401 before making it back here safely, much to Vicki's relief (I was the one driving and yet my knuckles weren't white).

Definitely one of our best days, thanks to J, Tammy & Ryan!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Leap Of Faith Now Available At The Kindle Store

This year I've decided to make my new book available through the Kindle store well ahead of the April 13th Launch Party, so as to allow any eager beavers out there the opportunity to read it before attending the party.  If you've got a Kindle device or any type of eReader that can handle that format (e.g. the iPad), you can buy the book here if you like.  Just remember: no spoilers at the party for everyone else!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Quantum Entanglement And The Free Will Loophole

While it's certainly true that you don't have to understand heady stuff like this fascinating Nova article about quantum entanglement and how it relates to free will in order to enjoy my new book, Leap of Faith, it's also true that it couldn't hurt!  Just sayin'.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Leap Of Faith Is In The House!

It took slightly longer than we expected to get to the front door (after being told they'd be delivered last week), but the initial print run of Leap of Faith has arrived!  It's always exciting getting those boxes and realizing, as we open them, that I really have added another book to my growing "body of work."  Dana Chapman's front cover looks awesome, the back cover is now finalized at last, and the 265 pages between them are just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed by readers over the coming months (and years).  I couldn't be prouder of the way Leap of Faith turned out and I can't wait for others to experience it.  

The Book Launch Party is now just 27 days away...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bishops, Singers, Venuses And Rabbits

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of social activity for this so-called shut-in.  In late Feb, Vicki and I joined our friend Sue for Billy Bishop Goes to War, a funny, musical look at the life and exploits of our most famous World War I veteran.  I enjoyed it much more than I usually would a musical and learned tons of details about Bishop that I'd failed to pick up previously.

A few days later we headed out to a concert by Bashia Bulat, an extremely talented Canadian singer-songwriter whose latest album is now up for a Juno.  This was arranged by our friend Tim, the same person responsible for my love of Radiohead and Magnolia Electric Company.  The show was great, as Ms. Bulat wowed us with her voice and mastery of several different instruments, most impressively the autoharp.  Plus we got to catch up with Tim who we rarely see any more.

Last weekend, Tammy was in town to help us celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary, and the three of us met up with Sue once again for another play, Venus in Fur.  Sue had read a very glowing review of the show by none other than friend-of-the-blog, Peter J, and thought it was something we might enjoy.  Holy crap, did we ever!  All four of us were blown away by the performances of Justin Peter Quesnelle and Francesca Ranalli as well as the complex and delightful script by David Ives. It's a two-person act that features a play-within-a-play as it examines the give-and-take nature of relationships in a very extreme sense.  Had we not seen it on Closing Night, Vicki and I would almost certainly have paid a return trip later in the run, it was just that impressive.

And last night, to mark Vicki's birthday we headed downtown once again to see that same JP Quesnelle in White Rabbit Red Rabbit.  Not only does WRRR feature the producing debut of Peter J (him again!) but it also is structured such that no performer is ever allowed to do it more than once.  That's right: the dozen shows scheduled here in town this month will each have a different local artist in them!  How crazy is that?  The play, written by Iranian Nassim Soleimanpour as a way to "travel the world when he couldn't," can only ever be performed by someone who's never done it before.  Not only that, the actor or actress only receives the script as he or she walks on stage that night.  No preparation is allowed, as it's designed to be as much an act of discovery for the artist as it is for the audience.  Among the many treats of seeing Justin do White Rabbit Red Rabbit was watching the wheels turn in his head as he encountered each new twist or revelation in the script, page by page, in real-time.  Fortunately for those of us in attendance, he was more than up to the challenge!  There's even a small amount of audience participation involved in WRRR, and I was lucky enough to take part in it near the end.  That was a wonderful experience, and a terrific night overall.  We're already making plans to go see WRRR again, with (naturally) another top-notch artist on stage.

I'd say that our recent spate of live entertainment has felt like the very best Fringe experiences we've had, and that's a huge compliment.  The local arts scene is definitely alive and thriving right now!

Saturday, March 08, 2014

# 37 For # 23

Today is our 23rd wedding anniversary, and Vicki surprised me with a Golden Age issue of Batman, issue # 37.  I was a little worried when I saw the cover, as it looked so familiar to me that I was sure I must already own a copy of it.  She was pretty sure I didn't, however, and eventually I solved the mystery by digging into my closet:

Of course the cover image had seemed totally familiar to me: I'd worn it on my chest dozens of times over the years! What a great treat to now own the comic, as well.

23 years and Vicki still knows how to make me happy and test my memory at the same time...

Friday, March 07, 2014

Unveiling Leap Of Faith

It's time to finally release some information about my 4th novel, Leap of Faith, which arrives on Sunday, April 13th at the Book Launch Party to be held in our home.  I've been very close-mouthed about the book up until now but that's about to change.

First of all, here's the cover, produced by Ms. Dana Chapman of Brantford, Ontario:



As for what Leap of Faith is about, here's the back cover blurb:

While waiting for the bill for her lunch, Maggie Stillwell is asked for directions by a stranger who casually mentions that he's a time traveler.  She naturally assumes he's either joking or crazy, and doesn't give it another thought.  Later that day, however, she receives an email from someone calling himself 'TimeTraveler355' despite the fact that Maggie hadn't even given the stranger her name.  The unexpected email predicts five upcoming events including a political scandal, a rigged election and the bombing of a busy American mall.  At the end of the email is an invitation to meet again at the same diner five days later.  Maggie laughs it off as a strange prank of some sort. 


But then the predictions start coming true... and Maggie slowly begins to confront the possibility that the stranger may be exactly what he claims to be.  If so, however, then what is he doing in 2014 and why is he so interested in her?


Leap of Faith, the fourth novel from Matt L. Holmes, takes the reader on an amazing journey of discovery as its female protagonist attempts to come to terms with the bizarre series of events suddenly unfolding in her life.  Prepare to have your mind blown by each new development in this tale of lost love and leaps of faith.


Mr. Holmes, author of Game Over, No Brother of Mine and Old Wounds, has crafted a wild ride that will force readers to challenge their assumptions at every turn. 


And with that, you may now discuss...