A Day Trip

I took a trip into Toronto today where I met up with Rachel Letofsky from The Cooke Agency. We headed over to Yonge and Bloor and up to the HarperCollins offices on the 20th floor. We were grandly welcomed by a sign in the lobby. How cool is this?

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Hadley Dyer (not pictured) led us on a tour of the office, where we met many of the folks diligently working on many projects, including Nowhere Wild, which was just being sent to type-setting when we arrived. (Again, how cool is that?) It hit me this morning, while there, that “Holy cow, this is actually happening!”

I managed to snap a shot of Yonge Street from one of their conference rooms. It’s been 20 years since I’ve been in Toronto, and it seems so much bigger. It absolutely sprawls, in every direction, even up. Seattle is big. Toronto is massive.

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After the meet and greet, we went out for celebratory lunch (as we in the publishing industry do), to talk about the book and things to come as we approach the launch date. Nothing is written in stone at this point (besides the launch date which is set for August 25th in both US and Canada), but we covered a lot of ground, and it was a very productive and enjoyable meeting.

I’m rather exhausted after 7 hours of driving today, so it may take me a day or so to recover, but hey, this was a really cool experience, and I had to share. G’night!

Breaking News: Nowhere Wild US Launch Date Moved UP!

Yes, you read that correctly. HarperCollins has moved the US launch date for Nowhere Wild up from February 23rd, 2016, to August 25th, 2015. Yes, that is the same day it launches in Canada.

Why did this happen? Not exactly sure. Something to do with warehousing, of all things. Someone must have waved a magic wand somewhere, and poof! Launchus datus accelleratus!

Now if only they can wave a magic wand over me and clone me for the next 6 months. So much to do! So much writing to be done! 173 days until launch. Holy Cow!

Getting All Professional

With all the book stuff going on, and things picking up in my career at work, it was time to replace the photos I had done a few years ago, with some new head shots done by a professional photographer. Jen Sanders from Jen Sanders Photography had me wander around a local park last Sunday morning as the sun climbed up over the Cascades and filtered through a chilly layer of thick fog. I am very pleased with the results. Here are some of my favorites.

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3 Years with Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Just over three years ago, I wrote a blog entry chronicling my first three days with Guillain Barré Syndrome. In it, I wrote that recovery times vary from 3 weeks to 3 years. I obviously didn’t heal in three weeks. My process took much longer. At the three year mark, however, I can say that my recovery is pretty much done. That’s not to say I’m completely back to normal, but, considering that 36 months ago, I was walking with a walker, unable to see well enough to read, and sleeping 20 hours a day, I’m doing pretty well. Things have stabilized—for the better.

I do have some long term side effects from the GBS. My eyes aren’t what they used to be, and when they get tired, they tend to jump a lot and make it hard to read. My balance is way off, especially in the dark. That could be related to my CMT (Charcot Marie Tooth Disease) as well, since it does cause both balance issues and numbness in the extremities, but I have no doubt the GBS exacerbated the issues. I don’t have quite the stamina I used to have when it comes to physical exertion, though that could just be a side effect of getting older. When I get tired, I still get numb patches in my cheeks and in my left leg. If I really overdo it, my nose goes numb. The feeling comes right back if I rest even for a few minutes, but it’s my signal to sit down, and take a breather.

I’ve definitely made some changes to my life that have helped to mitigate some of these long term effects. I moved closer to work so I wouldn’t spend so much energy commuting. That was probably the best thing I did to push over the hump. It’s amazing how much energy being stuck in traffic two-plus hours a day can steal from your life.

Last summer, I also cut gluten from my diet. My joints had started to swell and become painful—maybe from the stress of my commute, or maybe from the GBS, or maybe from some other kind of auto-immune reaction. It took a while to figure it out, but once I cut out gluten, most of the pain went away, and the swelling subsided. When I get really stressed out, it comes back a bit, but it always goes back down, as long as I stay off the wheat.

Along with the gluten, I’ve also cut most of the “good stuff” from my diet. No more alcohol, no coffee, no black tea, no soda, very few refined sugars. I eat a lot more vegetables and fruit and  proteins. I still have a weak spot for ice cream and gluten-free brownies, but I try to limit that to a couple of times a week, if not twice a month. Dining out is ridiculously hard, but I try to look for things that are GF on the menu, and if they aren’t labeled, I try as hard as I can to pick the least likely foods to have gluten. I know within a couple of hours of eating whether or not there was gluten in the food. The pain comes back that quickly.

But overall, these changes have been easy compared to what could have been the worst case scenario all those months ago. There were days where I didn’t know if I would ever be able to walk again, and days I worried that I would never be able to work or write or even read again. Those worries are gone now, and with them, the other stresses in my life don’t seem so large. It’s incredible what you can cope with when you have the perspective of history. The weekend before last, we moved into our new house, and my Microsoft Band said I took about 22500 steps in one day. Three years ago, 500 steps would have put me back in critical care.

I don’t blog a lot about my GBS anymore. The therapeutic value of doing it is gone, and frankly, I’m just too darn busy to focus on the negative all the time. But I thought this month I should at least let people who followed me through the worst of it, know that I did come out the other side of the tunnel. Hopefully, those who are just starting their journey with GBS, or are in the midst of their struggle, can gain some solace from my story of recovery. It’s a long road, but you are not alone.

One final thing. Here’s a picture of tonight’s sunset from my front porch. Seemed a fitting way to close out my GBS story. Simply amazing.

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US Publication Date for Nowhere Wild!

I just received an note from my editor at HarperCollins Canada that the US launch date for my debut novel, Nowhere Wild, will be February 23, 2016! This is almost exactly six months after the Canadian release date of August 25th, 2015 I’ve blogged about previously.

This is obviously huge news, and I am absolutely thrilled!

Why the delay in the US? Lots of reasons, and none of which I have any worries about (marketing, buying cycles, etc.) But if the book really does well in Canada, word of mouth should give it a big boost come February and the momentum can build from there.

I’ll blog more on this (and many other things) in the coming days. I’ve got an editing deadline on Nowhere Wild of next Monday, and will be heads down until that pass is done. But I just couldn’t wait to share this news!

The Best Advice I Have Ever Received

I was at a corporate function yesterday, and it was one of these deals where you have to go and introduce yourself to someone you’ve never met before, and then answer a question that pops up on the screens around the room. It’s an effort to get everyone to break out of their shell and network. They called it a “Mad-Hatter’s Tea Party”.

Some of the questions?

What is your super power? (I put people together to solve problems.)

What do you look forward to about coming to work every day? (Pursuing on my own grand ideas.)

Pretty usual corporate stuff, and honestly, I don’t remember the other person’s answers. I met a lot of people in a short amount of time, and it’s all kind of a blur.

But one of the questions stuck with me after the event, and all the way through the day today.

What was the best advice you’ve ever received?

I actually came up with three pieces of advice that have stuck with me for many, many years, and relayed them to the gentleman I was chatting with at the time.

The first one was from my friend Brandon, the day I went over to his house to tell him I was thinking of asking Lisa to marry me. I asked him how to make it work. His advice: “Don’t keep score.”  Don’t track who did the dishes last or who paid the bills or who put the kids to bed. Assume your spouse is always doing the absolute best they can, and if you truly are doing the best you can, things will balance out if you love and respect each other.

I’m not perfect at doing that, but it is something I think about often.

The second piece of advice one was from a friend of mind named Randy, all the way back in 1996. We were on our way back from Ottawa to Oshawa after partying it up in the Capitol over New Year’s Eve. I was telling him about how many hours I was working, and how I had these big ambitions, and how I would go back to my high school reunion and show everyone who thought I would never make it, how far I’d come. In one little sentence, he shook me to my core:

What if they don’t care?”

I said, “What do you mean? Of course they’ll care!”

He pointed out that between the time I graduated from high school and the time I’d see these people at some reunion down the road, they’d have lived a lot of their lives, and had their own challenges and triumphs, and they likely wouldn’t remember my awkward teenage years. He said, to paraphrase, that whatever I’m doing now, I’d better be doing it for myself, because doing things for other people, especially people who aren’t part of your daily life, is doing things for all the wrong reasons. It took a while to get that message through my thick skull, but I never forgot what he said. I hope I’ve done the right things for the right reasons all these years later.

The third best piece of advice was from a coworker (don’t remember who) when I was first starting out in the IT world. I was working a ridiculous number of hours back then (this was before I figured out exactly what #2 meant.) I was proud that I was critical to my project and said something along the lines that the project would be in trouble without me there. That was the moment someone piped up and said “The graveyard is filled with people who thought they were indispensable.” I laughed. The wiser people in attendance nodded in the way only people who have seen the door hit them in the ass on the way out can nod.

A few years later, I was in the same type of position, where I was absolutely essential to the team, and was starting to throw my weight around. I said the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time, and I was gone by 10:00 AM the next day. The security guard held the door for me on the way out.

So now that I’m much more mature and older, I’ve started handing out these tidbits of wisdom to my younger colleagues. Maybe some of them take it to heart. Maybe some of them blow it off and learn the hard way. But I know that those three pieces of advice have made a major difference in my approach to life and to work. I try my best to not keep score, to do things for the right reasons, and to maintain perspective and balance in my work life. I’d like to think I’m doing all three pretty well… but I’m always watching out for that swinging door.

So what are the best pieces of advice you’ve ever received?

As a Bee

So besides my normal day job (which is still incredibly crazy), the last two weeks have been pretty busy.

We had a party for my wife’s 11th anniversary of a certain birthday that women seem to celebrate far more times than seems normal.

We (finally) accepted an offer on our former home. (YAY!)

We celebrated my kids’ birthdays. Twice.

I’ve been editing my fingers to the bone trying to get a line-edit done on Nowhere Wild (due mid February.)

This week, we close on our new house, then have two and a half days of painters being there, one day for carpet cleaning downstairs, three days for the flooring folks to do their thing in the upstairs, and one day for air duct and house cleaning before the movers arrive to shuttle our furniture to the new place. And of course, there’s all the packing we have to do, and cleaning of the rental, unpacking at the new place and changing of addresses. The next ten days will likely be insane on a scale I haven’t seen in quite a while.

The good news is, I’m settling in to a new daily routine that gives me an hour of writing time every weekday morning, and that’s really helping to get the edits done and the juices flowing. I’m hoping to hold onto that routine even after the edits are done so I can jump right into the next story.

Soon, I’ll start posing some original thoughts here. There’s a lot coming in the next few months and you’ll get to hear about it all, right here.

The Big Announcement

Remember when I said you might have to wait for a while to hear my big announcement? Well, a while turned out to be less than 24 hours.

Are you ready?

I mean, are you really ready?

Are you absolutely sure you’re ready?

Because this is big.

Really big.

Gigantic even.

Ok. Fine. Here it is… (even though I don’t think you’ve really prepared yourself for this.)

(takes a breath)

HarperCollins Canada has set the Canadian release date for my debut novel, Nowhere Wild, to August 25th, 2015!

Yes, that’s right. On August 25th, 2015, (just in time for the last big weekend of the summer) you will be able to pick up your very own copy of Nowhere Wild in hardcover or on the e-reader of your choice, on-line, or wherever fine books are sold (in Canada)!

Want proof?

You can actually pre-order the book from a couple of places today, including (but not limited to) Amazon.ca and Indigo Books.

I have to say, seeing the actual publication date on a retail website made this feel so much more real than all the emails I’ve exchanged with my editor and my agent over the past two years. It got a little hard to breathe for a moment.

And then I remembered that this means I have a ton of work to do this year. And I almost passed out. No, not really. But I was pretty giddy the rest of the day.

Now, I will attempt to answer a few questions, before anyone asks:

1. When will the book be available in the United States or Europe or anywhere besides Canada?

Those dates have not yet been set, but we are working on it. As soon as I can say, you can bet I’ll have another big announcement.

2. Does this mean the book is done?

Nope… it means we’re into the home stretch on the plot edits, and now starting the line edits, the copy edits, and the proofs. I’ll be editing my fingers off through the spring, meeting deadlines and trying not to panic. And oh yeah, working on my next book.

3. Your bio on the Amazon page looks wrong.

I noticed that too. We’re getting it corrected. Don’t let my son know it says I have twin daughters.

4. What is the cover going to look like?

HarperCollins will take care of that, and I haven’t seen it yet. Hopefully something with aliens and unicorns. Wait… that’s a different book. Never mind.

5. Are you doing a book tour?

We haven’t discussed this yet, but at the very least, I will be doing local signings whenever I can. I anticipate making some trips up to BC in August or September, and hopefully a trip to Ontario as well. We’ll see what else I can fit into this crazy life.

6. Can I get an advanced copy?

Since the book isn’t finished yet, I don’t have any to give away. I will likely have some give-away books and prizes as we get ready for the launch, so stay tuned!

7. Is it better to pre-order now, or should everyone wait until closer to the launch date to order to help boost the ranking on the sites?

My understanding is that pre-orders are grouped together and the credit to the author’s rank hits the day the book is released. So a thousand books sold 6 months out weights the same as 1000 the day before launch. So by all means, pre-order as soon as you’d like. And have your friends pre-order… and their friends pre-order…

8. Is August 25, 2015 the absolute final date? Or will it move, again?

August 25th is the official target publication date. Once that date is announced, wheels start turning faster and faster, and deadlines get tougher and tougher. Sure the date could move, but we’ll all be doing everything we can to hit that date.

That’s all I’ve got for now. There will be updates galore as we march through 2015. If you have any questions though, let me know, and I’ll try to get them answered as best I can.

Now, back to writing. I’ve got a lot to get done!