Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bookshelf: Bad Things Happen by Kris Bertin


If you liked my first book, Please, you’ll probably enjoy this. Well, enjoy may not be the right word, as the stories in Bad Things Happen mainly focus on the characters’ lives coming apart. But there’s a certain brilliance and weird transcendence to be found in the cracks and wounds of their lives. These are stories where bad things do indeed happen — take that, CanLit — but the stories are less about the events the characters are caught up in and more about the quiet revelations found in the smoke break staring up at the stars, or the long drive into the night, waiting for the gas to run out. You know, the moments where we all think: This. This is my life.

Here’s the jacket copy:

The characters in Bad Things Happen—professors, janitors, webcam models, small-time criminals—are between things. Between jobs and marriages, states of sobriety, joy and anguish; between who they are and who they want to be. Kris Bertin’s unforgettable debut introduces us to people at the tenuous moment before everything in their lives change, for better or worse.

Bookshelf: Moot by Corey Redekop

Noir detective! Zombies! Free! What more do you want?

Anyway, I just read Corey Redekop’s short story Moot, which he’s giving away free for another few days. It’s an ode to noir detective fiction mixed up with zombie horror, because Corey does zombies like no other Canadian writer.

Here’s the blurb:

When a beautiful heiress hires Dudley Pasco to find her missing sister, he figures he’s got everything he needs to solve the case. He’s got the fedora, he’s got the gun, he’s got the patter.

The only thing he doesn’t have is a pulse.
Pasco is a moot, his body having decided that death is only a state of mind. Being moot isn’t always a problem for him, but when the trail leads to Greytown, Pasco is forced to face the horror of his own non-existence.

A mixture of hard-boiled detective noir and zombie horror, Moot is proof that dead men do tell tales.

Previously published in The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir, “Moot” is now available as an eBook from Husky Monkey Publications.moot

Here’s the link:

Free Moot!

Where are all the espresso bars?

“Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.” — Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

I’ve only been back in Canada a few days since my Italian adventure, and already I am missing Italy. In particular, I miss my customary breakfast from Venice.

Also, the festive town squares. They’re civilized gathering places in Europe, as opposed to our pot rally and riot zones in Canada.

I was taken aback by the bad graffiti everywhere, but there were a few works of art that made me smile, such as this scene in Venice:

And this interesting one in Florence — not sure what the mask is all about, but I like the effect:

The random underground caves beneath people’s houses were also pretty fascinating. This one served as an Allied munitions cache and a church for the locals during the war years. Now it’s a nice place to escape the heat, although the severed doll’s arm was a little disconcerting:

I also miss the ease of train and canal travel:

Although there was the odd gondola traffic jam:

The locals weren’t much good with directions if you got lost, unfortunately:

And the street signs were a bit confusing:

I even got caught up in a pilgrimage to the Vatican, where tourists excitedly snapped photos of the priest telling them not to take photos:

Lots of naked guys everywhere, too. The Italians like to party au naturel, apparently: 

And I did work out some ideas for the new Cross book while touring one of the many museums, so it wasn’t entirely unproductive.
I do miss those cappuccinos, though.

“You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.” 

— Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

“A sea adventure tale on steroids”

I love this Goodreads review of my latest Cross book, The Apocalypse Ark. I’ve finally been called “bonkers” instead of “unhinged.” Now I just need someone to call me “deranged” and I can retire.
Also, libraries:

And did I mention there are libraries? Again, this book collects libraries of history, myth and legend and brings them together in one collective narrative. The books in these libraries are not ordinary books. They are accounts of the future masquerading as fiction, history cloaked as myth, escape routes out of impregnable fortresses, stories that unfold with the unraveling of the world’s secrets.

And to all an endless night

I’ve got a short piece in the new On Spec. I think it’s a poem but the poets would probably argue that. Anyway, it’s a festive Christmas thing, complete with elves and genocide!

Let’s bring the Apocalypse Ark to Atlantis!

I believe my new novel, The Apocalypse Ark, is now available at all the finest online bookstores and ancient scriptoriums everywhere. There was a short technical glitch where ebooks were unavailable in the temporarily human-occupied territory known as the U.S., but I believe the imps responsible for that unfortunate incident have been banished to Azathoth’s tummy until Atlantis rises again. Speaking of which, Atlantis is the one place you can’t buy The Apocalypse Ark, on account of their protectionist tariffs — and being overrun by the Deep Ones. I’ve created a petition to open up Atlantis’s bookstores, libraries and flooded cafes to foreign books once more. Let’s make Atlantis apocalyptic again!
ia ia ia ia ia ia ia ia ia ia ia ia!

Direct link to the petition in case your device has sanity filters:

(I found the illustration online and don’t know who created it. Message me by water serpent if you know the secret identity of the artist.)

If you’re a writer, you should check out Scrivener

When I was at Ad-Astra recently, I took part in a panel discussion called “How to Go Beyond Getting Started and Get Something Finished.” I was secretly hoping to learn something — and I did! There were some really great ideas put out there during the panel from both panelists and audience members, and I left thinking I had lots more to say on the subject. That’s always the sign of a good event, so well done to the organizers and all those who attended.

Given that I still had things I was excited to share, I thought I’d add my comments here in the form of a few blog posts, starting with a shoutout to Scrivener. If you’re a writer and you haven’t used Scrivener yet, you should give it a try. It’s an incredibly useful tool, and I say that as someone who only uses a small portion of its features. Scrivener bills itself as “your complete writing studio,” and that’s a fair claim. It lets you store your research all in one place, organize your ideas and notes, create your outlines — and even write your novel! You can use different tools for all these things, of course, but Scrivener lets you store everything in one place, which is helpful for scatter-brained authors working on large projects.

I mainly use Scrivener for novels because it’s so handy for outlining. The program has a built-in feature that breaks up novels into chapters that you can see in sort of virtual index cards pinned to a corkboard. I add notes to the index cards talking about the plot beats in the chapter, how the chapter fits into the rising action of the book, what I need to set up in the following chapters, how this chapter builds on the previous one, etc. It’s a very handy way of seeing all the complicated stuff of the book in one glance — the story, the rhythm, the character arcs, the little subplots that need wrapping up, whatever. Before I started using Scrivener, I struggled to keep all that stuff in my head, which meant I was editing more than I needed to as I realized I’d totally forgotten to reveal what had become of that character stabbed in Chapter 3 — he died, they all died — or why I put that talking horse’s head in Chapter 5. Still not sure about that one, to be honest….

The breakdown of chapters into separate files makes it easy to move sections of the book around, save cut scenes, etc. I will admit that I have actually edited parts of my books simply by dragging and dropping. Some of you may not be surprised.

It’s also great for productivity to have your research files stored within Scrivener, so you don’t have to leave the application to look up the history of that castle on the web again, and seeing as you’re already online you may as well check Facebook — wait, what did that person say about my book? Now I have to write an angry response on Goodreads under a pseudonym!

It’s easy to export Scrivener files to Word and epubs and whatever else you like, and there is an iOS app. I haven’t used that yet so I can’t comment. I’m sure it’ll work well, though, as the desktop app has always been solid for me.

If you take this writing thing seriously, you should at least take a look at Scrivener. It may mean the difference between a never-ending work in progress and your next novel sale.

The Ad-Astra is strong with this one

Having a great time at Ad-Astra checking out the fun panels and hanging out with the likes of Robert Wiersema, Alyx Dellamonica, Kelly Robson, Peter Watts, David Nickle, Robert Boyczuk, the great crew at ChiZine and so many more. On to Day 2!

Canada Council is set to transform the creation of Canadian culture

I talked to Canada Council head Simon Brault about the future of the Canada Council,which funds many Canadian artistic projects. If you rely on grants for your creative endeavours in Canada, you may want to read this.

Here’s my schedule for Ad-Astra

I’m off to Ad-Astra in Toronto this weekend. Here’s my schedule:

ChiZine Authors Reading
Saturday, April 30, 4 p.m. Oakridge Room

I’ll be reading from my new book, The Apocalypse Ark, alongside Adrian Van Young, Gemma Files, and Robert Wiersema — some of my favourite writers! Come out and witness us read from all the forbidden books and crack open the seven seals.

How to Go Beyond Getting Started and Get Something Finished

Sunday, May 1, 11 a.m., Markham B

I’m really hoping to learn something here! With Amanda Sun, Erik Buchanan, Gregory A. Wilson and Stephanie Bedwell-Grime.

Reviews: How to Write Them and How to Read Them

Sunday, May 1, 2 p.m., Markham B

I suspect my talk will go something like “Review my book pllllleeeeeeeaaaaassssseeeeee.” Or maybe I’ll just talk about it from the perspective of a newspaper editor. Come and be surprised!