Friday, March 28, 2008

Spinetingler Update, At Central Booking & Amusement

Spinetingler has made the big leap in the transition to MBS. There are still a few things that have to be moved over in terms of online reading content, but the bulk of the site is now active.

If anyone does spot anything that isn't working, you can e-mail me or drop a note in the comments and I'll pass that on. In the next few weeks, the new At Central Booking site will be fully active. At that time, anyone linking to the site will want to change the link to Most of the original content has already been moved.

By mid-May, we hope to have all the kinks out, the new Spinetingler issue up, new content and audio shorts on At Central Booking, and the new Mystery Bookspot home page in place. Payment for short stories increases to $25 per story as of the fall 2008 Spinetingler issue.

And, to round this out with something not so serious, I know I shouldn't be so amused...

"Former Marijuana Grow Operation, is subject to mould & has not been remediated. The title to the lands are subject to the Notice of Health Hazard registered by CHR as Instrument No. 071 058 460 and occupancy of the lands will not be permitted until the Lands are remediated & the CHR Notice removed. Anyone viewing the property MUST WEAR APPROPRIATE PROTECTIVE CLOTHING in accordandance with the Calgary Health Region's Notice of Health Hazard Registration."

And only $245,000! Wow, what a steal of a deal! I'm sure the banks will be rushing to finance that mortgage.

(Only an 8 minute drive from here. The things my neighbours get up to.)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The First Time

First kiss, first time falling in love, first time… Cards for first communion, parents recording first steps and first words. Firsts are important to most people. I wonder how much of that carries over to how we feel about authors and books. Is it easier for someone to really impress us because we have no expectations? Are my assessments of some more generous because I have no frame of reference, and is it more likely that every subsequent book will fall short of the first in my mind because my opinion was buoyed by that first time falling-in-love-with-an-author high?

Bunny and I were talking about this recently. He (ahem) rated my books on a scale of 1 to 10. This begged an obvious question (because he’s a reviewer and I know how he’s rated other books). Why did “x” book get a higher score than one of mine? The answer was that “x” book was the first book he’d read by that author, and when you approached an author with no preconceived ideas or expectations it’s easier to be impressed.

I’ve heard it said – many times – you only get one chance to make a first impression. Some apply that to novels and caution authors about being careful about their debut. Personally, I think most of us make a first impression long before a novel is on the shelves, through short stories, reviews, contributing to forums, blogs such as this one. I can’t even say that the only people who could pick up my book and have true first exposure to me through it are people who don’t read online, because I review in print and have done some print interviews as well, and I’ve had short stories published in magazines. Undoubtedly there are many who will have their first exposure to me through a book… just not all.

And there are some who are fantastic short story writers who don’t do as well with novels (in my humble opinion) and others who excel at novels and struggle with short stories, as I do. I afford some allowances for the medium.

I’d prefer to be an author who gets better and better, moves from strength to strength, than come out with a bang and fades away, but even I can’t deny that some books remain special primarily because they were the first book I read by a new-to-me author.

So, I’m throwing the question out to you guys. Any books that remain sentimental favourites, simply because they were firsts?


Other Firsts

I realize the obvious thing for me to talk about now is Baltimore, my impressions and assessment after two weeks there. I had a lot of firsts during my trip – first crab cakes (thumbs up), fried shrimp (the non-seafood-eater is being converted), Utz crab chips (yum!), Berger cookies (oh my freaking gawd those are sweet – how did Bunny manage to eat two in one sitting?). Other firsts too… meeting the kids, the family.

I also got infected with the plague and – much to the pleasure of those around me on the plane – coughed up both lungs somewhere over Texas.

I’m thinking through what I can and will say about the trip, posting photos. I’m considering things like how much to say about my partner, how to handle references to the kids. Hopefully in the next few days I’ll have a clear head and be able to share more about the trip. For now, I’ll just say it was great.

First Day With The New Brain

The prize goes to the person who wanted to be on my flight from Dallas, who checked in without proper identification for customs. I’m still baffled by how you can buy an international plane ticket… and not realize that you need a passport. (We’re required to enter that info, even if we purchase online.) I’m not even apologizing for this, since it’s the (ahem) Bush administration that’s pushed for the passport enforcement between Canada and the US. (And since this was unfolding in Texas, well… just consider me unsympathetic to this person.) But somehow, she managed to do it, tried to get on the flight without acceptable ID. We spent about a half hour sitting at the gate before we were informed about the problem. Once it was then confirmed that Canada wasn’t going to let this woman enter the country because she didn’t have suitable ID they had to hook up conveyor belts and remove all the luggage from the plane until they found her bags, and then reload the plane.

My thanks to the woman who took an hour out of my life that I’m never getting back – plus an hour from the life of every other person on that plane.

(There’s more to it. I was in a position to hear the juicy details and she clearly made the situation more difficult and lengthy than it needed to be. Someone who didn’t understand that no means no. Although she’s right about one thing… Life isn’t fair.)

First Prize For Reducing Politics To What It Is… A Lot of Trash

Finally, a solution for the democratic candidate contest. Aussie town chooses mayor by drawing name from trash can.

No, I’m not entirely serious about resolving the battle between Obama and Clinton with a name drawn from a trash can (I have my preference between the two), but I am amused. After spending two weeks in the US I’ve had an earful about the candidates and I do wonder about the tolerance of the American public for political discussion. I wonder if Americans – in general – are more interested in politics than the average Canadian?

Or is it just that everyone loves a good mudslinging competition?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Best & Worst Resurrections

In the spirit of Easter, Damon started a thread about the best and worst character resurrections in fiction. Obviously, a discussion topic that will be filled with spoilers, but could be a lot of fun.

I still think the worst of all was that season of Dallas that was a dream... Any that spring to mind for you?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

RCMP Under Criminal Investigation

The Ontario Provincial Police will investigate whether crimes were committed in the controversial handling of the RCMP insurance plan... News of the OPP investigation comes after provincial police concluded a separate review of an Ottawa City Police probe into allegations of mismanagement of the Mounties $12 billion pension and insurance plans.

It concludes the Ottawa police investigation was adequate and there were no deliberate attempts by the RCMP to derail or jeopardize it.

The pension fiasco erupted in 2003 with allegations of mismanagement, nepotism, questionable expense claims and payments to consultants who did little or no work.

At a news conference slated for this morning, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day is expected to appoint a group that will focus on overhauling the battered federal police force, sources say.

The transitional group will look at making the RCMP a truly separate entity with civilian oversight, something recommended in a task force report late last year.

Led by Toronto lawyer David Brown, it recommended a stand-alone RCMP with supervised control over hiring and spending decisions.

That was in Brown's sweeping package of suggested changes to the structure and oversight of the beleaguered Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He found the Mounties were mired in bureaucracy and must have more authority to manage their own staff and finances."

Our national police force has taken a beating in the past few years, with good reason. The other day, I posted this here on the blog:

"Coming to the US is always interesting for me. Most people don't think there are a lot of differences between Canada and the US. And the long-standing source of pride on my side of the border has been how gosh-darned nice we are. (I'll admit to groaning when I saw this post. Cute. Right. Do people even think they're real cops? 'Cos you don't see them in red serge day to day, you know. Last time I was in the RCMP station, well...)"

The antiquated and romanticized view of the RCMP drives me nuts.

And for the record, I'm not taking the charity link down. I guess the new rule is for me not to post links to crime-fiction-related charities until I do a thorough investigation. While I can appreciate that there are issues here (and I've heard similar sentiments expressed over Calgary's autism center) there is no doubt in my mind that there are autistic people who can and will benefit from those funds. The issue isn't accusations of mismanagement of money or anything like that - it's an issue of public perception.

So, it may mark the last time I post a link to a charity, unfortunately, but I don't have time for such research investments - particularly for charities outside of my own country. I can only say that I hope the people who have issues with the organization have contacted every author participating in the charity with their concerns.

I would be lying if I said every autistic child I've worked with was non-verbal. I also worked with children with asperger's syndrome, and those children were doing well in school and had friends and "normal" lives.

In college, when I studied what I'll generally call special needs, I did my report on autism. We can go back to the old saying, about three kinds of lies: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics.

The wording on yesterday's post did make it sound inclusive, that the costs associated to caring for someone with autism applies to all autistic people. My apologies for that - those costs obviously apply to autistic people who require 24-hour care.

And for the sake of those who do need more assistance, I would still encourage those inclined to do so to find a charity they feel comfortable supporting and contribute.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Authors For Autism (& a few links)

Ever dreamed about getting it on with Lee Child's Reacher in fiction? Or finding yourself in a James Sallis novel? These authors - and many others - are auctioning off the chance to be a character in their works for a great cause. The authors for autism research auction starts March 23 and closes April 2.

Did you know...

- There is no single known cause for autism.
- Autism rates are increasing.
- 1 in every 150 American children falls on the autistic spectrum.
- Divided by gender, that's 1 in every 94 American boys.
- The lifetime costs of caring for someone with autism ranges from $3.5 million to $5 million.

As someone who has worked with autistic children, I urge those in a position to do so to consider participating in this charity auction. Every dollar counts, and you never know the difference it can make in the lives of children across the country and around the world.

And since I'm shaking off vacation brain for autism (with absolutely no complaints, as this is a most worthy cause to support, even if all you do is spread the word) I'll toss up a few interesting links.

Canada's growth economy: crime

Think of drugs, and you think of Colombia, Thailand, Afghanistan. But Canada? Nice, peaceful, dull Canada? Believe it or not, there are parts of the country where cannabis provides more jobs than logging, mining, oil and gas combined. Misha Glenny investigates, in the first of two extracts from his new book on organised crime.

(Fascinating stuff, and my thanks to John McFetridge for the link.)

Yeah, yeah, violence... again

I haven't been able to get Crimerant's blog to take my comments, and from those who've e-mailed me I sense it's a bigger system problem, but my thanks to Gregg and Matt for throwing some questions out to their readers - notably, about violence in true crime vs fiction. The answers are interesting, as are the e-mails I've received thus far. My thanks to all who've chimed in.

Reviews that fall under the "entertaining as hell" category to read

(But not if you're the author of the works in question.)

Jeff Vandermeer has a few things to say about The First Patient. Uh, it would probably be best not to drink anything before reading.

And keeping in the don't drink - or eat - before reading category, follow the link, then click on Revelation by CJ Sansom on the left for Damien Seaman's take.

I'll admit it: I'd never want to read such reviews of my books. But strictly putting the reader hat on, Jeff's short take and Damien's assessment were both entertaining... a nice quality in a review.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Greatest Writers: Hardboiled/Noir vs Mainstream/Cozy

In the wake of the Daily Telegraph list of must-read crime/thriller authors,The Rap Sheet decided to create their own. I was looking at the discussion about it on Crimespace and came back to the same question I've pondered before:

Are hard-boiled/noir books better written than cozies/amateur sleuth/mainstream books?

Before I explain where I'm going with this, readers of this blog will know I prefer darker subject matter. To me, that is a question of taste, not quality writing. It does stand to reason we often read more in the spectrum we write in, or to our tastes, and that means when I start recommending books they tend to be darker police procedurals, hard-boiled and noir offerings.

However, that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of great books that fall outside the scope of one's usual reading.

The reason I raise the question is because list after list in the crime fiction community, it seems that the classics cover Chandler, Hammett, Ed McBain, Charles Williford and modern masters of noir such as Ken Bruen. Although Michael Connelly writes police procedurals, they lean on the dark end of the spectrum as well.

We still see Agatha Christie named... but who are the modern cozy/amateur sleuth/mainstream classic writers? Why don't we often see historical crime fiction on these lists? And what of foreign masters and translated works? In the wake of the surge of popularity of noir/hard-boiled, have we settled on the conclusion that this part of the genre isn't as good?

Despite my own reading preferences, I don't believe this to be true. For one thing, I would classify Laura Lippman solidly in the mainstream camp, and I think she's a great writer. I would also consider Reginald Hill to be mainstream, and personally, I think a good chunk of what Val McDermid writes actually falls in that part of the genre: A Place of Execution; The Distant Echo.

I've floated my own theories in the past. In the same way that the academy awards honour dramas and neglect to nominate comedies and animated films the majority of the time, whatever is serious tends to be treated with more respect. Noir and hard-boiled works, in general, delve into very serious subject matter.

I'll readily admit this is part of the reason I have misgivings about these lists. For one thing, I think every person on the planet creates their own "things to do before I die" list, and they vary greatly. That doesn't make them right or wrong. I certainly don't feel compelled to tell all readers they absolutely must read any 50 books before they die. Reading is something I do for enjoyment, stimulation, for work... But for the most part, I think readers dive into books they think they'll enjoy reading. That's the key factor. As long as someone is reading, and enjoying themselves, isn't that all that matters? Of course as an author I hope people will read my work and enjoy it too, but that isn't the point here.

I don't think anyone should dictate to readers any list... Particularly such a generalized one. Authors, sure. If you want to be a writer, you need to be a reader first, and you should know your genre.

My thoughts on this seem have drawn criticism. The cycle here is that it's okay to question the Telegraph list and create a new one, but apparently it isn't okay to question whether there should be such a list to begin with, or how it should be structured. Honestly, I'm more concerned by any suggestion that involves blatantly ignoring discussion about the list, and an endorsement to specifically seek out input from those who clearly favour one part of the genre. (This is posted on a forum and we aren't allowed to discuss it? Since when did the community become a dictatorship? I mean, if I don't like a discussion I can walk away... But the answer here is if you don't like some of the feedback, ignore it and talk to more compliant people?)

For any such list to have real merit, it needs to have a limit on it. It should also be divided into sections. If we want to represent the mystery/crime/thriller genre then all segments should be represented. There should also be a list for classics and contemporary offerings. This list won't be a good genre representation if it heavily features noir books, or if 75% were PI books, or if 68% were police procedurals. In order for a list to be meaningful to readers, it needs to identify their reading preferences and highlight the books for them. In the same way that someone who reads noir/hard-boiled/horror would probably not have a favourable response to Louise Penny, no matter how great the writing, someone who prefers cozies/amateur sleuth offerings and doesn't like violence would probably have a hard time with THE WIRE IN THE BLOOD or SAVAGE NIGHT. As much as I love those books, I know I'd never give them to my mother to read, for example. They would be so far outside her comfort zone the reading would certainly not be enjoyable, or beneficial on any level.

Now, I'm throwing questions out for public debate. What are the modern classics in the cozy-mainstream-amateur sleuth end of the spectrum? Why are 'must-read' lists filled with darker offerings? Are we guilty of the same sin of discrimination as the academy awards, by favouring dark fiction when we dish out our highest honours, or are we okay with saying that more mainstream works aren't as well written or timeless?

Opinions wanted. I'm half tempted to contact some of the cozy writers and let them weigh in on this in Spinetingler...

(And a very Happy St. Patrick's Day. I'll talk more about the parade and such in the next few days, I'm sure. I saw the real-life Carcetti, and Neurice.)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Beyond Pathetic

Welcome to the age of internet bullying and harassment. Used to be, you had to be in physical proximity to really get pushed around...

Nice to know the reach of the internet now allows people to be assholes to everyone around the world.

When I started At Central Booking, one of the things I did was create a comments policy. I'd had enough personal experiences with flame wars and nonsense: the point of the new site was to augment Spinetingler and promote great books and authors.

Part of the reason I did it was that I knew someone was imitating me on a forum. (I'm not linking to it, because I don't want to give them any more attention.)

Today? Today, I learn someone has set me up with a profile on a dating site, and used my real e-mail address to do it. I haven't actually seen the profile, but apparently women find me attractive. I guess I should be flattered I have cross-gender appeal.

The next time someone complains to me about authors who are impossible to contact they're going to get an earful. Nobody should have to deal with this kind of bullshit. I mean, seriously: don't these people have anything better to do with their time? From someone snidely hiding behind the veil of anonymity at Crime Zine Report to be an ass (prompting me to limit comments to prevent anonymous remarks) to those who blatantly spread lies, online and in print, well...

But I'm flattered that I'm so important to some people the only way they can feel better about themselves is to harass me.

That's probably all from me until Monday. I have a busy family weekend planned... and the concert last night was great. Barleyjuice put on quite a show. I love celtic rock, so on that note, Rawlins Cross:

Friday, March 14, 2008

Baltimore, and Beyond

One of the things I love about traveling is the experience of meeting people. "Everyone who travels has a story" - that's the way it was put to me when I made my first journey overseas.

And it generally proves true. From the guy who spent hours trying to persuade me Hitler was alive and well and living in Phoeniz, Arizona to the deep thinker who wanted me to prove the existence of God to the guy who asked me to sleep with him in sign language (the kind of signs I had no trouble understanding) to the Italian who proposed to me within fifteen minutes of meeting me... well, they all had stories. And thanks to them, by the time I returned to Canada from that prolonged journey, I had plenty of stories too.

Coming to the US is always interesting for me. Most people don't think there are a lot of differences between Canada and the US. And the long-standing source of pride on my side of the border has been how gosh-darned nice we are. (I'll admit to groaning when I saw this post. Cute. Right. Do people even think they're real cops? 'Cos you don't see them in red serge day to day, you know. Last time I was in the RCMP station, well...)

Truth is, increasingly when I've crossed the border, what's been on my mind is how gosh-darn nice Americans are, and how welcome I always feel here.

My flight to Texas was relatively quiet. The man beside me was reading Jeffrey Archer, by the way. I was reading the stories that are finalists for the Crimespace short story competition, since I'm a judge. I have my tentative rankings, and will read them again before sending in my scores. Once I finished that reading, between catching twenty minutes of sleep and the breakfast sandwich, I was reading Tom Piccirilli's THE COLD SPOT.

Now, I'll admit that the airport in Dallas is not my favourite of all the ones I've been to. It needs a technological upgrade. I saw that fully realizing that the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica doesn't have conveyor belts for the luggage - just a hole in the wall where they stand and toss the bags in on the floor. That, the 70s paneling and the monitors used for continuous earthquake alerts all make it pretty clear you've left home.

But I think Dallas could get some monitors to tell you what gate you want to be in for your connector. I'm just saying...

Once I'd traveled across half of creation and managed to find my gate, I was good. I ended up on a very full flight to Baltimore, sitting beside a woman who was clearly traveling for work. I asked what she did... educational assessments. Well, that was that. No reading on that flight. We spent the few hours discussing all sorts of variables in educational assessment and she gave me her card and a neat website with all sorts of data. She was also pretty interested in my writing, and is going to Fan Fair in Nashville this year, so was interested in what I could tell her about that. Really, it was a great flight. I enjoyed talking to her, and she gave me a lot of ideas. She had stories, and I soaked them up. A lot of food for thought.

The airport was where nerves really hit. Finally, after being awake for more than 12 hours (operating on about two hours worth of sleep) I was in Baltimore. I have had something of a love affair with Baltimore ever since the days of HOMICIDE, and was finally going to have a chance to see it with my own eyes.

My only disappointment at the airport was that Brian managed to sneak up on me, instead of the other way around.

Once driving, it was a chance for me to start seeing those familiar names, and it's great to be with someone who not only is a Baltimore native, but loves crime fiction, because he's been pointing out all kinds of things to me - like the mall and area where the real case that inspired WHAT THE DEAD KNOW happened. Little things that I find very interesting.

I've had a few days to get my bearings, and get to know the family, and I'm already wanting to dig in my heels and slow down time. Everywhere I've gone I've been impressed by how friendly and helpful everyone is. In fact, there are a lot of general courtesies practiced here that I just started to realize I don't see often back in Canada.

Now, I did meet one fella who fit the jokes. When I said I was from Canada he said, "It's pretty down there, isn't it?" Uh, sure, sure. Then he asked me, "Do you have cities there?" I'm not joking. The thing is, he was a younger guy, and really, I understand what he was asking - he just chose poor wording - but it did make me smile.

The guy in the phone store yesterday sure had some stories about cross border drinking. I'd forgotten about the US drinking age being so much higher than Canada's. One more reason to go to college in Buffalo, I guess.

I don't want to say too terribly much on a personal level, mainly because it all involves other people. I will say that I feel very much at home here, and am loving it. I'm in Carroll County, and it's very pretty here.

Tonight, we're going to hear an Irish band. This weekend, the Harbor, for the St. Patrick's Day Parade. Next week, I hope to see Ruth Jordan and the B'con volunteers, and will have a busy, family Easter celebration. I'll be taking pictures, and when I'm back in Canada will share some of them.

And if my editor is reading this, I'm working hard, writing every day. I promise.

I'm back online more now, and the domain transfer for my site hasn't happened yet, so the regular e-mail is still working, but you can use as a back-up, in case you need to.

Oh, and just a note for Tom - it isn't one strong supporter of the crime fiction genre who's a wee bit distracted these days. It's two. I'm sure that makes you feel so much better. ;)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Out of Touch

I'm heading for the airport in a few hours, and contact for the next few days may be limited. My website is being transferred to new domain hosting, which means it may be down for a days this week... And that means my regular e-mail address won't be working.

If you're trying to contact me and it bounces you can try me Just put my name in front of that.

Please don't use that for "business" stuff. Spinetingler has contact information posted. Unfortunately, the new e-mail doesn't allow me to do auto-replies, but I will attempt to get in on a regular basis and confirm things have been received.

This is part of the process of transitioning things to Mystery Bookspot. Hopefully, by the time I'm back from the US, Spinetingler and At Central Booking will be safely there, and I'll be able to update everything... new audio short stories, ACB features, and the new Spinetingler Issue due out end of April.

Meanwhile, I leave you with one of those internet quizzes... Haven't done one of these in ages!

What dog breed are you? I'm a Labrador Retriever! Find out at

Labrador Retriever
The Caretaker

Your family is what makes you tick, and you never "flea" from an opportunity to hang out with the whole gang. A family picnic complete with hot dogs, deviled eggs and a refreshing swim in the lake is hard for you to stray from. Your sparky temperament and dogged intelligence mean you are not only a blast to hang out with, but great to work with as well. Your close pals appreciate your patience and forgiveness, knowing you'd rather let sleeping dogs lie than dwell on the mishaps of the past. Your dashing good looks may one day lead to a modelling career, if only you can tame the unfortunate clumsiness that sometimes causes you to go flailing from the catwalk.

Damn. Even the online quizzes know about my tendency to trip over my own two feet. I can't even fool a website program!

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Moment of Truth

THE WIRE in a moment, but first, my first big industry review is in... from Publishers Weekly:

Three Vancouver constables—son-of-a-sergeant Craig Nolan, bombshell in the boys’ club Ashlyn Hart, and stolidly antisocial cop Tain—are drawn together as the rapes, arsons and child abductions they’re working on respectively converge. The three, who have a beef over a prior case gone bad, must get over their personal differences and chase scant leads before another raped woman, burned building or missing girl turns up. Ruttan manages to keep the multiple leads and seconds on the same page admirably: she doesn’t drop too many clues in their laps or allow the tension to flag. The child abduction and sex crime aspects of the story are handled without exploitation or kid gloves; the straight proceduralism from Ruttan (Suspicious Circumstances) serves the story well through the rewarding climax.

Needless to say, I'm really happy with the review. I'm glad that they picked up on the delicate balance of dealing with rather serious crimes, and I'm certainly happy that they feel I maintain the tension throughout and that the climax is rewarding.

And now I can breathe a bit easier...

Yesterday was a significant day, as the last episode of THE WIRE aired. I've elaborated on some key points in the ongoing forum discussion but probably in the next few weeks I'll really digest the season as a whole.

I must say, Doquan broke my heart. And more than anything, that will stay with me. The real story to the show is that nothing will be fixed or improved. The truth is, that the institutions are as much responsible for the problems as anything else, and feed the cycle and sustain it.

What will I take away? The trio of replacements - Sydnor is McNulty, Michael is Omar and Doquan is Wallace.

I hope Michael has as compelling a future as Omar had.

A sad day for the show, though. And a strong finish, despite my feelings about the journalism thread.

What did you guys think?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Effective Marketing

First: What do Kurt Vonnegut, Naomi Novik, Michael Chabon, John Scalzi, Neil Gaimon, Joe Hill and Terry Pratchett all have in common?

Along with many other authors, they’re all contenders in the Fantasy Bookspot 2007 tournaments. There are two tournaments, an all-time (classic) tournament and a 2007 tournament, and the winner of the 2007 tournament gets to claim the honour of being the book tournament winner.

For those of you who cross the genre lines, you’ll want to check this out, and for the crime fiction crowd, I’ll come back to the book tournament toward the end of my post, with a relevant note for crime fiction authors and readers.


The other day, I got an e-mail from my favourite radio station, from one of the three members of The Odd Squad. They’d seen the old photo of Deric I posted, and mentioned they’d just been playing his latest single the other day and saying it had been far too long since they had a chance to talk to him.

It made me smile, and took me back to something that happened a few years ago.

The time: mid-September, 2003
The place: Ranchman’s, Calgary
The event: Deric Ruttan and Doc Walker perform and signs CDs

After Deric’s set and signing, he sat down with my brother-in-law and I and caught up. In fact, that was the night that I kicked my own backside about actually writing a book, because after what Deric had gone through, to get his record deal, I knew I had it easy. If you don’t try, you never know…

But that wasn’t what Doug’s e-mail made me think about. It was one small part of the exchange, when I said to Deric that he should try to come to Stampede. He hesitated, and said it wasn’t likely that he’d come for the next one. “Market saturation,” he explained. If people get used to the idea that they can see you any time, it stops being important to try to make it to your concerts and signings.

I could see the sense of what he was saying. After all, concerts usually cost money. Spending $15 or $20 at Ranchman’s back then was peanuts but concerts often cost considerably more.

The other factor about Stampede is that there are a lot of concerts, and not just country concerts. Nashville North has two acts every night. The Coca Cola stage has performances in the afternoon and evening. There are always a couple big shows at the Saddledome. And places like Cowboy’s and Ranchman’s put on shows too, for those who don’t want to deal with the crowds at the Stampede grounds.

As a new artist building profile, Deric understood that it would be harder to make an impact at a time when the market was saturated with musicians and concerts… and he also understood that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

I think every single person would agree that if they’re doing book signings they’d rather do one with ten people than two with five, if at all possible.

I’m not saying that only big signings are important. However, every moment an author spends on promotion is one less they’re spending on writing, and the majority of us are spending our own money to travel. Our resources are limited.

The radio station made me think about this for other reasons. One of the things they have now is a tag that says “Back to the music faster” and they have the commercials that follow limited to two minutes.

The inference is obvious: People don’t want ads. They want substance.

I expressed some of my irritation with overkill marketing last week, and part of the reason I did it is because most authors seem to fall into one of two distinct categories. Either they never talk about marketing or they push marketing to the point that it gives newer, unknowing authors the belief that they’re expected to promote-promote-promote.

Have you ever been around someone who just fell in love? They can’t shut up about that wonderful person. He’s everything from dreamy to a stud to a gentleman to perfect and within a few weeks even most friends are sick of hearing about God’s gift to men.

Now, think of how you feel when someone continuously tries to sell you on something. You get an e-mail from an author telling you in a week, they’ll be in your town. Although you never signed up for their newsletter, they remind you three days before their visit as well.

Those three days go by - and yes, there was another e-mail that morning, saying “Today’s the day!” - you’re at home, having dinner with your family when there’s a knock on the door. You glance out the window and can see the author there, book in hand… and return to the table to eat with your SO and kids.

And they bang on the door and call out, “I know you’re in there! I can see the lights on!”

You’re either laughing or rolling your eyes at the extreme example, but the thing is, we’re just one step removed from telemarketing calls promoting books and door-to-door salespeople. In fact, I have heard of authors going door to door already.

I’m not going to make sweeping generalizations. I’m not going to say such approaches will never be effective. The questions authors have to ask themselves are how often they’ll be effective, and how positive is the cost-benefit analysis.

The problem is, the mantra has been PROMOTE- PROMOTE – PROMOTE.

The mantra should be promote effectively.

Okay… I’m not crazy about marketing. I maintain if I wanted to be a salesperson, that’s what I’d be (and I’d make a lot more money at it). I’m an author because I love to write, not because I love to get in your face and tell you to buy my book. Marketing is, however, a necessary evil.

Unfortunately, the zeal for promotion often takes on that “falling in love enthusiasm” and overrides common sense. Authors fail to realize when they’re going overboard. They only look at the five books sold instead of the twenty-five people walking away scowling, empty-handed. They don’t even see the ones who’ve altered their course to avoid the author.

I have always liked keeping in touch with people via their blogs, and since I know what it’s like to be inundated with e-mails sometimes, if I have something to say I usually put it as a comment instead of e-mailing. My objective isn’t promotion, or I’d probably not say 2/3 of the things I do online. However, just the nature of my presence can be interpreted as a promotional effort, and I have had people suggest I comment less because I’m too omnipresent online.

And I’m not even trying to raise my internet profile. There are people who deliberately set aside time for such things, and comment in “all the right places” to get their name out there.

I made remarks lately, expressing the feeling that many blogs are, essentially, landfill. I have a genuine appreciation for Crimespot and drop by several times a day to see if there’s anything of interest there. However, it magnifies the issue when authors do blog tours and you see the same person talking about their book over and over and over again. I automatically skip the host blog that day. I understand that many blogs have different audiences, but when someone suggested I do a blog tour my response was an emphatic no. I will be guest-blogging two or three places next month, and that’s my limit. They have also been very strategically selected. I will not be recycling news about my book release and why you should buy the book. I will be talking about different things I think people might find interesting.

I have also decided not to host blog tours on my blog. Originally, I was on the fence, but after a number of people put pressure on me about this, I fell to one side. Would I host an author here? Absolutely. A blog tour specifically? No. If I’m going to have someone here there needs to be a reason. It also needs to be someone whose work I’m familiar with.

As a reviewer, familiarity comes through ARCs. As an editor, it also comes through short stories that are published. I keep thinking about Country 105’s tag line – back to the music faster – and isn’t that what we all want? Substance instead of a sales pitch.

How can authors effectively market themselves?

1. Get short stories published in a range of markets, online and in print. (This showcases your writing – which is what you’re selling, after all – and it also gets you on the radar of editors. Some of them do interviews and look for authors to profile. If they like your work they’re more likely to want to interview you and feature you when your book comes out, and you won’t have to ask.)

2. Be more than a walking advertisement. When I go to conventions and end up at a panel where someone just keeps plugging their book, I lose all interest. It’s like that friend in love and in week 10 of the super-gush mode – autopilot “uh huh, uh huh, uh huh” responses ready as needed but I’m not really listening by this point. I go to hear about a topic, and if I think an author is interesting/intelligent I’ll check out their work. If I think they’re dull as dishwater they end up on my mental ‘avoid’ list.

3. Consider market saturation. I’ve thought about this a lot this year. I have two books coming out, six months apart. As a result, I actually don’t want every site under the sun to review the first one, because it will make it a lot harder to get reviews for the second book. If I was Michael Connelly I wouldn’t need to care about that because I’d get the reviews anyway, but I’m not, and besides, if I was I wouldn’t need to give a second thought to marketing.

4. Participate in the community. This goes to my life philosophy, about giving, not just taking. We live in a self-absorbed ME-ME-ME era, and that’s carried over to the world of books. (There’s a fine line between legitimate concerns about business and being overbearing and overly demanding. In other words, if you publisher isn’t going to send out review copies at all, I understand why you have concerns. But if you’re whining because they sent out 100 but you wanted them to do the 10,000 Dan Brown got for DaVinci Code, I’m not too sympathetic. You have to look at what’s typical, not what’s exceptional.)

The main point here is that many authors expect to get, but when asked to do something for someone else they automatically refuse. Too busy, too important, too self-absorbed… whatever. Yes, you’re allowed to say no sometimes because you’re busy. I’m not criticizing people for saying no sometimes – the criticism goes to those who always say no. They expect to get without giving anything back. I’ve seen this with new authors who want blurbs and reviews, but asked later to consider blurbing someone else they say they aren’t blurbing. Anyone who deals with the business side of the equation knows the people I’m talking about – they show up when they want something but should you ever be looking for an author to write a memorial tribute to someone who’s passed away, or to discuss an issue in an interview (as opposed to their book) you know better than to call them.

5. Wherever possible, honour your commitments. I realize it’s a bit different where conventions are concerned, because we often book months (if not years) in advance for financial reasons, and then sometimes things come up that prevent us from following through. But if you commit to putting a short story in a magazine, or writing an article for them, either follow through or have the decency to cancel when you realize you can’t make the deadline. Don’t leave them hanging, because that will leave a bad taste in their mouth.

6. Look for the effective opportunities instead of just running crazy doing anything and everything. Using a simplistic example, if I was blogging to sell books, I’d be the first to say I’m an idiot. An unbelievably small percentage of books are sold because of blogs. Furthermore, many readers of my blog are the same regulars. If I blog five days a week and get 500 hits, I’m really just getting about 120-150 distinct visitors, with the balance of the hits being repeat traffic over the week. If I blog one day a week and get 110 hits, I’ve used 1/5 of the time investment and reached almost the same audience. Is five times the work really effective for the additional hits? No.

Now, I blog for different reasons, which is why I turn up whenever I feel like it, but if your objective is sell-sell-sell, mega-blogging is just dumb-dumb-dumb.

7. Always leave them wanting more. Musicians don’t play all their biggest hits. They leave the stage with the audience still fired up for more. And we call them back. Best encore I remember was Annie Lennox at the Saddledome, coming back on stage to do Sweet Dreams. You think the audience is screamed out, but the roar of the crowd reaches a whole new level.

I think of Doug’s e-mail. The Odd Squad host an enormously popular morning show. If you’re a country artist you don’t come to Calgary without dropping by Country 105. They get calls from musicians all the time…

You don’t want to be the one they say they’re sick of. You want to be the one they say, ”Hey, it’s been a while – would love to talk!”

8. Show interest in something else. People who have more diverse interests are more interesting to listen to. I love traveling, but if I only talked about my trips even I’d be bored before long. Music? I love my music, but same thing. You know the phases of falling in love with a song? It starts of with wow, I really like that song, I have to hear it again and goes to turn it up, turn it up! and then you look for the album (and curse if it isn’t out yet) and then eventually you hit the again? mode. You notice this most often with smash hits that have a lot of hype –Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy and Redneck Woman to name two – where almost equal numbers are turning the radio down and off while others and turning it up. In fact, I remember when Country 105 used to have Christina on at night, and they did pick it or kick it – Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy barely squeaked by with something like 55% of votes in favour of the song.

If you only talk about your book, it gets old. It gets to be like that song on the radio. Hardcore fans will follow you at first, but then lose interest. And in the worst cases, they’ll start being the ones turning the radio down, because they’ve had their fill.

I mean, I love chocolate, but I won’t eat chocolate chip pancakes anymore, not since the time I followed chocolate chip cookies at night by chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast the next day. (It was a sleepover and I was a kid, but just the thought of that stomach ache is enough to put me off.)

9. Look for the original approach instead of just recycling the same-old, same-old. Clever marketing stands out much more than just routine, repetitive marketing tactics everyone else has done. This is why there’s no formula. Think about it – if half the authors out there all did the same things, it would be the ultimate white noise effect – you just tune it all out.

This list isn’t an exhaustive one. It’s about balance. A small bit of slack gets cut for newer authors, because the enthusiasm overrides reason. However, the slack doesn’t extend forever, and even new authors can take it too far and burn bridges.

Reviewers, interviewers, fellow authors and bloggers don’t owe you anything. And while I’m not about just kissing butt for the sake of the favour exchange, I’m more likely to help out someone who’s shown themselves to be generous and to contribute to the community than the person who’s just ME-ME-ME.

Remember, you can catch flies with shit, or with beer or honey. Beer and honey are very effective and don’t smell nearly as bad.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Ah, The Evil In Me (& more Uncle Charlie memorial jokes)

Ah, I always knew great photos of Deric Ruttan would surface, from back when his hair was longer than mine. Unfortunately, via pdf, so I had to put them on my website. They're here and here.

This is probably why my relatives don't speak to me.

Although things are still in process for transferring Spinetingler, I've done a bit of an update about some of the changes.

I'm not going to apologize for being a wee bit irritated this week. When the same people e-mail again and again and again and again, and seem to think I should want to take my time to create free advertising for them in Spinetingler, and promote their book (that I haven't read, because I never got a review copy) on my blog they've burned a bridge. Hell, my friends don't even ask me to do that stuff for them.

You can't stop me from coming on here and expressing my enthusiasm for anything I love - book, song, album, movie, drop-dead gorgeous guy - but if there is one thing I can promise any reader, it's that if I'm enthusiastic, it's genuine, because I'm a fan of the work, not because someone asks me.

More from Uncle Charlie - as always, politically incorrect, potentially offensive, but I know he'll be chuckling from the other side.


This will warm your heart, especially if you have lost faith in
human kindness.

This letter was sent to the principal's office after an elementary
school had sponsored a luncheon for the elderly. An old lady had
received a new radio at the lunch as a door prize and was writing
to say thank you.

This story is a credit to all human kind. Forward to anyone you
know who might need a lift today.

Dear Faculty and Students,
God bless you for the beautiful radio I won at your recent senior citizens' luncheon. I am 84 years old and live at an Assisted Living Home for the Aged. All of my family has passed away. I am all alone now and its nice to know someone is thinking of me. God bless you for your kindness to an old forgotten lady. My roommate is 95 and always had her own radio. Before I received this one, she would never let me listen to hers, even when she was napping.

The other day, her radio fell off the night stand and broke into a lot of little pieces. It was awful and she was in tears. She asked if she could listen to mine, and I said fuck you. Thank you for that opportunity,

Kitchen Bitch

A mother was working in the kitchen listening to her 5 year old son playing with his new electric train in the living room.

She heard the train stop and her son saying, "all you sons of bitches who want off, get the hell off now. cause this is the last stop!"

And all you sons of bitches who are getting on, get your asses in the train, cause we're going down the tracks."

A horrified mother went in and told her son, "We don't use that kind of language in this house. Now I want you to go to your room and you are to stay there for TWO HOURS."

"When you come out, you may play with your train.. but I want you to use nice language."

Two hours later, the son came out of the bedroom and resumed playing with his train. Soon the train stopped and the mother heard her son say.

"All passengers, please remember your things, thank you and hope your trip was a pleasant one. We hope you will ride with us again soon."

She heard her little darling continue. "For those of you boarding, remember, there is no smoking in the train. We hope you will have a pleasant and relaxing journey with us today."

As the mother began to smile, the child added, "For those of you who are pissed off about the TWO HOUR delay, please see the bitch in the kitchen

Problem Solved

Two married buddies are out drinking one night when one turns to the other and says, "You know, I don't know what else to do. Whenever I go home after we've been out drinking, I turn the headlights off before I get to the driveway, shut off the engine and coast into the garage. I take my shoes off before I go into the house; I sneak up the stairs, get undressed in the bathroom, stick my foot in the toilet and pee down my leg to prevent splashing sounds. I ease into bed and my wife STILL wakes up and yells at me for staying out so late!!"

His buddy looks at him and says, "Well, you're obviously taking the wrong approach. I screech into the driveway, slam the door, storm up the steps, throw my shoes in the closet, jump into bed, slap her on the ass and shout, "WHO'S HORNY" and she acts like she is asleep every time."

The Cure For Snoring

A couple has a dog that snores.

Annoyed because she can't sleep, the wife goes to the vet to see if he can help.

The vet tells the woman to tie a ribbon around the dog's testicles and he will stop snoring.

"Yeah, right!" she says.

A few minutes after going to bed, the dog begins snoring, as usual.

The wife tosses and turns, unable to sleep.

Muttering to herself, she goes to the closet and grabs a piece of red ribbon and ties it carefully around the dog's testicles.

Sure enough, the dog stops snoring! The woman is amazed.

Later that night, her husband returns home drunk from being out drinking with his buddies.

He climbs into bed, falls asleep, and begins snoring loudly.

The woman thinks maybe the ribbon might work on him, so she goes to the closet again, She grabs a piece of blue ribbon, and ties it around her husband's testicles.

Amazingly, it also works on him! The woman sleeps soundly. The husband
wakes from his drunken stupor and stumbles into the bathroom. As he stands in front of the toilet, he glances in the mirror and sees a blue ribbon attached to his privates.

He is very confused and as he walks back into the bedroom, he sees the red ribbon attached to his dog's testicles He shakes his head and looks at the dog and whispers, "I don't know where we were,or what we did, but, by God, we took first and second place!"

Yellow, Pink & Green

Mujibar was trying to get into Canada legally through Immigration. The Officer said, "Mujibar, you have passed all the tests, except there is one more test. Unless you pass it, you cannot enter the Canada."

Mujibar said, "I am ready."

The officer said, "Make a sentence using the words Yellow, Pink and Green."

Mujibar thought for a few minutes and said, "Mister Officer, I am ready."

The Officer said, "Go ahead."

Mujibar said, "The telephone goes green, green, green, and I pink it up, and say, 'Yellow, this is Mujibar.'"

Mujibar now lives in a neighborhood near you and works at a Sympatico help desk. I talked to him yesterday.

Newfie Se Therapy

A Newfoundland couple, both well into their 80s, go to a sex therapist's office.

The doctor asks, "What can I do for you?"

The man says, "Will you watch us have sexual intercourse?"

The doctor raises both eyebrows, but he is so amazed that such an elderly couple is asking for sexual advice that he agrees.

When the couple finishes, the doctor says, "There's absolutely nothing wrong with the way you have intercourse." He thanks them for coming, he wishes them good luck, charges them $50 and he says goodbye.

The next week, however, the couple returns and asks the sex therapist to watch again. The sex therapist is a bit puzzled, but agrees.

This happens several weeks in a row. The couple makes an appointment,has intercourse with no problems, pays the doctor, then leave.

Finally,after 5 or 6 weeks of this routine, the doctor says, "I'm sorry, but I have to ask.

Just what are you trying to find out?"

The old man says, "We're not trying to find out anything.

She's married and we can't go to her house. I'm married and we can't go to my house.

The Holiday Inn charges $98.

The Hilton charges $139.

We do it here for $50, and I get $43 back from Blue Cross."

A Clean Nun Joke

Sister Mary, who worked for a home health agency, was out making her rounds visiting homebound patients when she ran out of gas. As luck would have it, a gas station was just a block away. She walked to the station to borrow a gas can and buy some gas.

The attendant told her the only gas can he owned had been loaned out but she could wait until it was returned.

Since the nun was on the way to see a patient, she decided not to wait and walked back to her car. She looked for something in her car that she could fill with gas and spotted the bedpan she was taking to the patient.

Always resourceful she carried the bedpan to the station, filled it with gas, and carried the full bedpan back to her car. As she was pouring the gas into her tank, two men watched from across the street.

One of them turned to the other and said,"If it starts, I'm turning Catholic."

Now, in honour of Uncle Charlie's memory, I think everyone should order the 2009 Nude Police Officer Calender now. It's for a good cause.

The all nude police officer calendar for 2009 is now available!

The all nude police officer calendar for 2009 comes in an all-male and an all-female version for only $8.95, (plus $3.45 for shipping & handling). $5.00 from each sale goes to the National Police Officer Memorial Fund.

All pictures show full frontal nudity, for both female and males. Just click on the menu to select which one you want to preview. They are available for sale on the site -- the calendars, not the officers.

Click here to view all 12 (24) totally nude police officers.

Gender Objects

You may not know that many non-living things have a gender:.
For example:
1) Ziploc Bags- They are Male, because they hold everything in, but
you can see right through them.

2) Copiers- They are Female, because once turned off, it takes a
while to warm them up again. It's an effective reproductive device if the
right buttons are pushed, but can wreak havoc if the wrong buttons are

3) Tires- Male, because they go bald and are often over-inflated.

4) Hot Air Balloon- Male, because, to get it to go anywhere, you
have to light a fire under it, and of course, there's the hot air part.

5) Sponges- Female, because they're soft, squeezable and retain

6) Web Page- Female, because it's always getting hit on.

7) Subway- Male, because it uses the same old lines to pick people

8) Hourglass- Female, because over time, the weight shifts to the

9) Hammer- Male, because it hasn't changed much over the last 5,000
years, but it's handy to have around.

10) Remote Control- Female...... Ha! You thought it'd be male. But
consider this - it gives a man pleasure, he'd be lost without it, and while he
doesn't always know the right buttons to push, he keeps trying.

Newfie Lubricant

Way down in the out ports of Newfoundland, Murph's old lady had been pregnant for some time and now the time had come. He brought her to the doctor and the doctor began to deliver the baby.

She had a little boy, and the doctor looked over at Murphy and said, "Hey, Murph! You just had you a son! Ain't dat grand!!" Murph got excited by this, but just then the doctor spoke up and said, "Hold on! We ain't finished yet!" The doctor then delivered a little girl. He said, "Hey, Murph! You got you a daughter!!!! She a pretty lil ting, too...." Murph got kind of puzzled by this and then the doctor said, "Hold on, we still ain't got done yet!" The doctor then delivered another boy and said, "Murph, you just had yourself another boy!"

Murph said to the doctor, "Doc, what caused all of dem babies?" The doctor said, "You never know Murph, it was probably something that happened during conception." Murph said, "Ah yeah, during conception"

When Murph and his wife went home with their three children, he sat down with his wife and said, "Mama, you remember dat night that we ran out of Vaseline and we had to use dat dere 3-in-1 Oil." She said, "Yeah, I remember dat night" Murph said, "I'll tell you, bye, it's a fookin' good ting we didn't use dat WD-40!!"

The Female Perspective

1. WHY DO MEN BECOME SMARTER DURING SEX? because they are plugged into a genius)

(they don't have enough time)

(they don't stop to ask directions)

(because their balls fall over their butts and they vapor lock)
You're laughing, aren't you?

(so they wouldn't hump women's legs at cocktails parties)

(you need a rough draft before you make a final copy)

7. HOW MANY MEN DOES IT TAKE TO PUT A TOILET SEAT DOWN? C'mon guys, we laugh at your blonde jokes!)

(because a vibrator can't mow the lawn)

Two Blondes Chatting

Two blondes from Newfoundland were chatting.

One blonde asks another,"Which is further,Vancouver... or the Moon?"

The other replies: "HELLOOOOO, Can you see Vancouver?"

Cop Humour

"Relax, the handcuffs are tight because they're new. They'll stretch out after you wear them awhile."

Take your hands off the car, and I'll make your birth certificate a worthless document."

"If you run, you'll only go to jail tired."

"Can you run faster than 1,200 feet per second? In case you didn't know, that is the average speed of a 9 mm bullet fired from my gun."

"So you don't know how fast you were going. I guess that means I can write anything I want on the ticket, huh?"

"Yes, Sir, you can talk to the shift super visor, but I don't think it will help. Oh ... did I mention that I am the shift supervisor?"

"Warning! You want a warning? O.K., I'm warning you not to do that again or I'll give you another ticket."

"The answer to this last question will determine whether you are drunk or not. Was Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog?"

"Fair? You want me to be fair? Listen, fair is a place where you go to ride on rides, eat cotton candy, and step in monkey poop."

"Yeah, we have a quota. Two more tickets and my wife gets a toaster oven."

"In God we trust, all others we run through NCIC."

"Just how big were those two beers?"

"No sir we don't have quotas anymore. We used to have quotas but now we're allowed to write as many tickets as we want."

"I'm glad to hear the Chief of Police is a good personal friend of yours. At least you know someone who can post your bail."

"You didn't think we give pretty women tickets? You're right, we don't. Sign here."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Another Passing

Rae died yesterday.

He was a doctor, a father, a husband, a grandfather. An educated man I'd known for over twenty years. He was my brother-in-law's stepfather, Grandfather to my niece and nephews.

My thoughts are with Tina, and the entire family during this difficult time.

The Best From Uncle Charlie, part 1

My Uncle Charlie was just 58 when he passed away Sunday. We groaned and laughed over the jokes he supplied, and my Aunt Jacinthe and cousins Christina and Melissa agreed he'll be laughing from the other side at a reminder of some of the best. So, this isn't politically correct, but it's the most fitting tribute I can imagine to a man who loved to laugh.

And there are too many for one post, so look for one more in a few days.

On a more sentimental note, I'm going to dedicate THE FRAILTY OF FLESH to Uncle Charlie, but for now, my tribute:

The Boy and the Priest

A little boy got on the bus, sat next to a man reading a book, and noticed he had his collar on backwards.

The little boy asked why he wore his collar that way.

The man, who was a priest, said, "I am a Father."

The little boy replied, "My Daddy doesn't wear his collar like that."

The priest looked up from his book and answered, "I am the Father of many."

The boy said, "My Dad has 4 boys, 4 girls and two grandchildren and he doesn't wear his collar that way."

The priest, getting impatient, said, "I am the Father of hundreds" and went back to reading his book.

The little boy sat quietly thinking for a while, then leaned over and said,
"Maybe you should wear your pants backwards instead of your collar."

$100 Tattoo

Larry gets home late one night and his wife, Linda, says, "Where in the hell have you been?"

Larry replies, "I was out getting a tattoo."

"A tattoo?" she frowned. "What kind of tattoo did you get?"

"I got a hundred dollar bill on my privates," he said proudly.

"What the hell were you thinking?" she said, shaking her head in disdain. "Why on earth would a CPA get a hundred dollar bill tattooed on his privates?"

"One, I like to watch my money grow. Two, once in a while I like to play with my money. Three, I like how money feels in my hand. Four, instead of you going out shopping, you can stay right here at home and blow a hundred bucks anytime you want."

For the Canadians… A Newfie Joke

The newfie saw the sign at the restaurant.
It read " Happy hour special: Lobster tail & Beer."
"Ah ," he says to himself , "My 3 favourite things! "

What do you get if you cross a donkey with an onion?

Most of the time you simply get an onion with long ears, but every once in awhile, you get lucky, and get a piece of ass that brings tears to your eyes.


A guy is walking along a beach when he comes across a lamp partially buried in the sand. He picks up the lamp and gives it a rub.

Two blonde genies appear, and they tell him he has been granted three wishes. The guy makes his three wishes and the blonde genies disappear.

The next thing the guy knows, he's in a bedroom, in a mansion, surrounded by 50 beautiful women. He makes love to all of them and begins to explore the house. Suddenly he feels something soft under his feet. He looks down and notices the floor is covered in $100 bills.

Next, there's a knock at the door, so he answers it. Standing there are two persons dressed in Ku Klux Klan outfits. They drag him outside to the nearest tree, throw a rope over a sturdy limb, and hang him by the neck until he's dead.

As the Klansmen are walking away, they remove their hoods. It's the two blonde genies! One blonde genie says to the other, "I can understand the first wish--having all those beautiful women in a big mansion to make love to. I can also understand him wanting to be a millionaire. But, why he wanted to be hung like a black man is beyond me!"

Subject: Mildred
Mildred, 93, was despondent over the recent death of her husband Earl,so she decided to just kill herself and join him in death.
Thinking it would be best to get it over with quickly, she took out Earl's old army pistol and made the decision to shoot herself in the heart since it was so badly broken in the first place.
Not wanting to miss the vital organ and become a vegetable and a burden to someone, she called her doctor's office to learn her heart's exact location.
Since you're a woman," the doctor said, "your heart is just below your left breast Why do you ask?"
Mildred hung-up without answering.
Later that night Mildred was admitted to the hospital with a gunshot wound to her knee.

It’s Finally Arrived

A Sentimental Winter Poem

I get this poem every winter & every winter I love re-reading it. It’s a beautiful poem and very well written. Thought it might be a comfort to you, it was to me.

It's cold!

Um… This is REALLY not PC

I was depressed last night so I called Lifeline. Got a call center in Pakistan.

I told them I was suicidal.

They got all excited and asked if I could drive a truck

This one’s for Miss Snark

One day, when a seamstress was sewing while sitting close to a river, her thimble fell into the river. When she cried out, the Lord appeared and asked, "My dear child, why are you crying?" The seamstress replied that her thimble had fallen into the water and that she needed it to help her husband in making a living for their family. The Lord dipped His hand into the water and pulled up a golden thimble set with sapphires.

"Is this your thimble?" the Lord asked. The seamstress replied, "No."
The Lord again dipped into the river. He held out a golden thimble studded with rubies.

"Is this your thimble?" the Lord asked. Again, the seamstress replied, "No."
The Lord reached down again and came up with a leather thimble.

"Is this your thimble ?" the Lord asked. The seamstress replied, "Yes." The Lord was pleased with the woman's honesty and gave her all three thimbles to keep, and the seamstress went home happy.
Some years later, the seamstress was walking with her husband along the riverbank, and her husband fell into the river and disappeared under the water. When she cried out, the Lord again appeared and asked her, "Why are you crying?" "Oh Lord, my husband has fallen into the river!"

The Lord went down into the water and came up with George Clooney. "Is this your husband?" the Lord asked.

"Yes," cried the seamstress. The Lord was furious. "You lied! That is an untruth!" The seamstress replied, "Oh, forgive me, my Lord. It is a misunderstanding. You see, if I had said 'no' to George Clooney, you would have come up with Brad Pitt.

Then if I said 'no' to him, you would have come up with my husband. Had I then said 'yes,' you would have given me all three. Lord, I'm not in the best of health and would not be able to take care of all three husbands, so THAT'S why I said 'yes' to George Clooney.
And so the Lord let her keep him. Soooo....The moral of this story is:
Whenever a woman lies, it's for a good and honorable reason, and in the best interest of others. That's our story, and we're sticking to it.

Really Not PC…

A young boy went up to his father and asked him, "Dad, what is the difference between potentially and realistically?"

The father thought for a moment, then answered, "Go ask your mother if she would sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars. Then ask your sister if she would sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars, and then, ask your brother if he'd sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars. Come back and tell me what you learn from that."

So the boy went to his mother and asked, "Would you sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars?" The mother replied, "Of course I would! We could really use that money to fix up the house and send you kids to a great University!"

The boy then went to his sister and asked, "Would you sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars?" The girl replied, "Oh my God! I LOVE Brad Pitt! I would sleep with him in a heartbeat; are you nuts?"

The boy then went to his brother and asked, "Would you sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars?" "Of course," the brother replied. "Do you know how much a million bucks would buy?"

The boy pondered the answers for a few days and then went back to his dad.

His father asked him, "Did you find out the difference between potentially and realistically?" The boy replied, "Yes. Potentially, you and I are sitting on three million dollars, but realistically, we're living with two hookers and a homo."

Sticking With The Not Very PC Theme…

A successful rancher died and left everything to his devoted wife. She was determined to keep the ranch, but knew very little about ranching, so she placed an ad in the newspaper for a ranch hand.

Two cowboys applied for the job. One was gay and the other a drunk. She thought long and hard about it, and when no one else applied she decided to hire the gay guy, figuring it would be safer to have him around the house than the drunk.

He proved to be a hard worker who put in long hours every day and knew a lot about ranching. For weeks the two of them worked hard and the ranch was doing very well.

Then one day, the rancher's widow said "You have done a really good job, and the ranch looks great. You should go into town and kick up your heels."

The hired hand readily agreed and went into town on
Saturday night.

He returned around 2:30am, and upon entering the room, he found the rancher's widow sitting by the fireplace with a glass of wine, waiting for him.

She quietly called him over to her.

"Unbutton my blouse and take it off," she said.
Trembling, he did as she directed.

"Now take off my boots." He did as she asked, ever so slowly.

"Now take off my socks." He removed each gently and placed them neatly by her boots.

"Now take off my skirt." He slowly unbuttoned it, constantly watching her eyes in the fire light.

"Now take off my bra." Again, with trembling hands did as he was told and dropped it to the floor.

Then she looked at him and said: "If you ever wear my clothes into town again, you're fired!"

Beverage Analysis

Water – It has been scientifically proven that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli bacteria found in feces. In other words, we are consuming 2 lbs of poop each year.

However, we don’t run that risk when drinking wine, rum, whiskey, vodka, beer or other liquors because alcohol has to go through a distillation process of boiling, filtering and fermenting.



Free yourself of poop, drink booze! It’s better to drink booze and feel like shit than drink water and be full of shit. (Al, are you paying attention?)

There’s no need to thank me for relaying this valuable information.

Bill & Hillary

Bill Clinton started jogging near his new home in Chappaqua.

But on each run he happened to jog past a hooker standing on the same street corner, day after day.

With some apprehension he would brace himself as he approached her for what was most certainly to follow.

Fifty dollars!" she would cry out from the curb.

"No, Five dollars!" fired back Clinton .

This ritual between Bill and the hooker continued for days.

He'd run by and she'd yell, "Fifty dollars!"

And he'd yell back, "Five dollars!"

One day however, Hillary decided that she wanted to accompany her husband on his jog!

As the jogging couple neared the problematic street corner, Bill realized the "pro" would bark her $50 offer and Hillary would wonder what he'd really been doing on all his past outings.

He realized he should have a darn good explanation for the junior Senator.

As they jogged into the turn that would take them past the corner, Bill became even more apprehensive than usual.

Sure enough, there was the hooker!

Bill tried to avoid the prostitute's eyes as she watched the pair jog past.

Then,from the sidewalk, the hooker yelled... “See what you get for five bucks!?"

Dear Abby

My husband is a liar and a cheat. he has cheated on me from the beginning, and when I confront him, he denies everything. whats worse everyone knows it. It is so humiliating. also since he lost his job five years ago he hasn't looked for a new one all he does all day is smoke cigars and cruise around and shoot the bull with his buddies while I have to work to pay the bills. Since our daughter went away to college he doesn't even pretend to like me and hints that I may be a lesbian. What should I do?

signed: clueless.

Dear Clueless;
Grow up and dump him. Good grief woman. You dont need him anymore. You're a United States Senator from New York. Act like it

The Frog

An older lady was somewhat lonely and decided she needed a pet to keep her company. So, off to the pet shop she went. She searched and searched. None of the pets seemed to catch her interest, except this ugly frog As she walked by the jar he was in, she looked and he winked at her.
The old lady figured, what the heck! She hadn't found anything else. So, she bought the frog. She placed him in the car, on the front seat beside her.
As she was slowly driving down the road, the frog whispered to her "KISS ME AND YOU WON'T BE SORRY."
So the old lady figured, WHAT THE HECK, and kissed the frog.
IMMEDIATELY the frog turned into an absolutely gorgeous, sexy, young, handsome prince.

She's old.......NOT DEAD!!!!!

Blonde Joke

Two sisters, one blonde and one brunette, inherit the family ranch. Unfortunately, after just a few years, they are in financial trouble. In order to keep the bank from repossessing the ranch, they need to purchase a bull so that they can breed their own stock. Upon leaving, the brunette tells her sister, "When I get there, if I decide to buy the bull, I'll contact you to drive out after me and haul it home." The brunette arrives at the man's ranch, inspects the bull, and decides she wants to buy it. The man tells her that he will sell it for $599, no less.

After buying him, she drives to the nearest town to send her sister a telegram to tell her the news. She walks into the telegraph office, and says, "I want to send a telegram to my sister telling her that I've bought a bull for our ranch. I need her to hitch the trailer to our pickup truck and drive out here so we can haul it home."

The telegraph operator explains that he'll be glad to help her, then adds, "It's just 99 cents a word."

Well, after paying for the bull, the brunette only has $1 left. She realizes that she'll only be able to send her sister one word.

After thinking for a few minutes, she nods, and says, "I want you to send her the word "comfortable". The telegraph operator shakes his head. "How is she ever going to know that you want her to hitch the trailer to your pickup truck and drive out here to haul that bull back to your ranch if you send her the word, "comfortable?'"

The brunette explains, "My sister's blonde. The word's big. She'll read it slow.
("com-for-da-bul" )

A Word or Two About Bras

A man walked into the ladies department of a Macy's and shyly walked up to the woman behind the counter and said, "I'd like to buy a bra for my wife."

"What type of bra?" asked the clerk.

"Type?" inquires the man. "There's more than one type?"

"Look around," said the saleslady, as she showed a sea of bras in every shape, size, color and material imaginable. "Actually, even with all of this variety, there are really only four types of bras to choose."

Relieved, the man asked about the types. The saleslady replied: "There are the Catholic, the Salvation Army, the Presbyterian, and the Baptist types. Which one would you prefer?"

Now totally befuddled, the man asked about the differences between them.

The Saleslady responded, "It is all really quite simple... "

The Catholic type supports the masses.
The Salvation Army type lifts the fallen,
The Presbyterian type keeps them staunch and upright, and
The Baptist makes mountains out of mole hills.

Have you ever wondered why A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, G, and H are the letters used to define bra sizes? If you have wondered why, but couldn't figure out what the letters stood for, it is about time you became informed!

(A} Almost Boobs...
{B} Barely there.
{C} Can't Complain!
{D} Dang!
{DD} Double dang!
{E} Enormous!
{F} Fake.
{G} Get a Reduction.
{H} Help, I've fallen and I can't get up !

The only thing they forgot was the German bra. Holtzemfromfloppen.

A Holiday Poem

He laid her on the table,
So white clean and bare,
His forehead wet with beads of sweat,
He rubbed her here and there.

He touched her neck,
Then felt her breast,
Then drooling, felt her thigh.
The slit was wet and all was set,
He gave a joyous cry.

The hole was wide........
He looked inside,
All was dark and murky,
He rubbed his hands,
And stretched his arms.........
And then he stuffed the turkey.

May I be one of the first to wish your dirty little mind happy holidays.

Child of my heart

Man of the Year


Now that food has replaced sex in my life, I can't even get into my own pants.

Marriage changes passion.
Suddenly you're in bed with a relative.

I saw a woman wearing a sweat shirt with 'Guess' on it.
So I said 'Implants?' She hit me.

How come we choose from just two people to run for president and over fifty for Miss America ?

I signed up for an exercise class and was told to wear loose-fitting clothing. If I HAD any loose-fitting clothing, I wouldn't have signed up in the first place!

Don't argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference.
Wouldn't it be nice if whenever we messed up our life we could simply press 'Ctrl Alt Delete' and start all over? AMEN, AMEN !!

Why is it that our children can't read a Bible in school, but they can in prison?
Wouldn't you know it....
Brain cells come and brain cells go, but FAT cells live forever.
Why do I have to swear on the Bible in court when the Ten Commandments cannot be displayed outside?
Bumper sticker of the year:
'If you can read this, thank a teacher -and, since it's in English, thank a soldier'

And remember: life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

Not a Joke, But It Was Sent by Uncle Charlie, And Seems Appropriate

As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that wasn't supposed to ever let you down probably will. You will have your heart broken probably more than once and it's harder every time. You'll break hearts too, so remember how it felt when yours was broken. You'll fight with your best friend. You'll blame a new love for things an old one did. You'll cry because time is passing too fast, and you'll eventually lose someone you love. So take too many pictures, laugh too much, and love like you've never been hurt because every sixty seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you'll never get back….

Don't be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.

Monday, March 03, 2008

There Aren’t Words

My Uncle Charlie passed away yesterday.

It’s a complete shock. I’ve been trying to remember if he was 59, or 60.

I was on the phone with Brian when I discovered the e-mail from my cousin, Christina… (Patrick, the one who helped you with your research question, the one who works with convicted criminals). I don’t even know how I processed the news at the time, because in the middle of the night I was sitting here, thinking maybe I’d misread the message, that it just couldn’t be right…

Hopefully, I’ll be able to pull together a more fitting memorial post later in the week, perhaps a ‘best of’ from Uncle Charlie. Long-time readers of my blog will recognize his name as a regular supplier of off-color jokes. Uncle Charlie was one of those people who enjoyed life, had no ulterior motives, didn’t play games with people, and was easy to talk to… I’d thought I’d get a chance to visit soon, maybe this year or next. One of the things about moving east meant being closer to people I haven’t had much of a chance to see in years.

He will be sorely missed.

He said: I was in my early forties,
With a lot of life before me,
An' a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
I spent most of the next days,
Looking at the x-rays,
An' talking 'bout the options
an' talkin’ ‘bout sweet time.
I asked him when it sank in,
That this might really be the real end?
How’s it hit you when you get that kind of news?
Man whatcha do?

An' he said: "I went sky diving,
I went rocky mountain climbing,
I went two point seven seconds
on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying.
An' he said: Some day, I hope you get the chance,
To live like you were dyin'

He said I was finally the husband,
That most the time I wasn’t.
An' I became a friend a friend would like to have.
And all of a sudden goin' fishin’,
Wasn’t such an imposition,
And I went three times that year I lost my Dad.
Well, I finally read the Good Book,
And I took a good long hard look,
At what I'd do if I could do it all again,
And then:

I went sky diving,
I went rocky mountain climbing,
I went two point seven seconds
on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying.
An' he said: Some day, I hope you get the chance,
To live like you were dyin'

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Wanted: An Incredibly Sexy Man

I need to buy some abs.

This isn't quite what I had in mind...

I'm looking for ones attached to a handsome face with a gorgeous smile.

Seriously, I'm looking for a male model, to pose for photos with most of their clothes on (shirt is debatable). $100 for an hour of work.

Pass the word. Those wishing to apply can e-mail me, with a link to their site or photo (splash your name across it to protect your copyright). Oh, and preferably somewhere in the Calgary (Alberta, Canada) area. Now, I'm willing to work with someone who lives further away, who's trustworthy and reliable and capable of having the photos done themselves, but I'll need some references. I have a deadline on this.

And for some reason, I haven't been able to persuade Sean Chercover to pose with his shirt off... Maybe I should try Barry Eisler. I'd pay extra for a male author.

(OR... Maybe Billy Klippert's free? I heard he's back in Calgary, and I'm giving him a musical nod in THE FRAILTY OF FLESH.)