Thursday, December 6, 2012

Announcing the launch of my own imprint, Big Wheel, and some new ebooks

For some time I have wanted to bring back into print several of my earlier titles. Two of them were published by houses that went bankrupt, something that happens all too often in Canadian publishing. Others have simply gone out of print. A couple of publishers wanted to pick them up but other pressing financial crises swept those plans away. And so after much hemming and hawing I have finally taken the plunge. My own publishing operation, Big Wheel, has just released three ebooks--two novels and a book of stories that have been among my best reviewed titles. And the good thing is that I am able to offer them for a mere $4.99 each, half or a third of what they would usually cost. The books are available on all readers so if you're looking for a good book (can I say that about my own work?) at a good price, fire up your Kindles, your Kobos, your Nooks, your ipads, and your laptaps

Year End Lists

The end of the year brings out the need for list-making. And this year a couple of books have made it onto year end lists. The new picture book, "Mr. Zinger's Hat," appears on the Toronto Public Library First and Best List, an annual short-list of books recommended for parents to read to their kids. Thank you, TPL. And the short-story collection "My Life Among the Apes" can be found on Open Book Toronto's Holiday Reading Guide 2012. It certainly is nice to be noticed by your own city.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sandra Alland book launch this Wednesday

I keep meaning to write about my experience over the years as a (very) small press publisher, but that longer piece will have to wait. For now, let me invite you to the launch of Sandra Alland's "Naturally Speaking." The publisher is Espresso Books, the chapbook imprint of paperplates books. The editor for this one has been Rebecca Comay; Bernard Kelly did the design; and I am handbinding the 150 copies in paper wrappers. (Together, we three are the three-headed beast that makes up Espresso.)
The price is a mere $12. Please see the poster for other information about this fascinating little book of poems conceived (in Sandra's words) at the "intersection of disability poetics, computer software, queer feminism and translation."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"My Life Among the Apes" on Best 100 Books of 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"My Life Among the Apes" gets a starred review in 'Quill & Quire'

"Cary a writer whose critically lauded books regularly attract the notice of prize juries. He deserves an audience to match those plaudits. With any luck, "
My Life Among the Apes," which earned a spot on the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist--will deliver that broader readership. The volume's ten stories are, without exception, splendid yarns, told with the practised ease of a natural storyteller." *Vit Wagner, "Quill & Quire," November 2012. (See the whole review at

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pulling some reviews out of the hat

Here are some early reviews of the new picture book, "Mr. Zinger's Hat." * "'Mr. Zinger's Hat' is a wonderful story about the shared process of creating. The illustrations by Dusan Petricic are beautiful and expressive. Four Stars." --CM Magazine. *"The magic of discovering a story from within--within a hat, within a heart, within one's imagination--is extraordinarily fulfilling. Inspiring." --Canlit for Little Canadians. *"Here is a magical children's book that will stir the imagination of young readers anywhere in the world. Delightful." --"Spirituality & Practice". *"I love this story. I love the encouragement of imagining, of sharing the wonder of stories, and creating your own. It's just a lovely, lovely thing." --"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Monday's book launch for "My Life Among the Apes"

I hope you'll come and celebrate the official launch of "My Life Among the Apes" at Another Story Book Shop, 315 Roncesvales ave. Monday, Sept. 24, 6-8 p.m. It would be great to see you there. If you haven't been to Roncesvales lately, it's a pretty cool street with a lot of places to eat. And Another Story is an appealing indie bookstore--well worth getting to know.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"My Life Among the Apes" on the Giller Long List

It was a bit of a shock to hear Marc Cote of Cormorant tell me on the phone this morning that the new story collection, "My Life Among the Apes," is one of the thirteen books on the Giller long list. Now the shock has worn off, many emails from friends have come in, and I'm feeling...pretty darn good. Most exciting is knowing that more people will actually read the book. By the way, if you're looking for the book it is shipping to bookstores at this very moment. Yes, the trucks are rolling out. By Thursday or Friday it should be in stores in Toronto and also available online; a little longer for the rest of the country. The ebook editions will be up by up by the end of the week. The long list gets whittled down to the finalists, to be announced on Oct. 1. I've been writing and publishing long enough to know you have to enjoy the good stuff when it happens so I'll celebrate now. And congratulations to the other authors, whose books I look forward to reading. I hope you'll come and celebrate at the book launch, which will be a casual affair--no reading. Monday, Sept 24, 6-8 p.m. at Another Story Books, 315 Roncesvalles Ave. Do come and say hi. **** Here's the whole list:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The story begins...

It's time to post the cover of my new kids' novel, 'The Boy in the Box,' first in a trilogy called 'Master Melville's Medicine Show.' This is my second trilogy but it's a little older and darker than the Kaspar Snit books. And while those have separate stories, this one follows one arc from the first book to the last. The challenge, of course, is to make each book satisfying in itself at the same time it's part of a larger design. The books is appearing this fall from Penguin Canada (in Canada) and Clarion Books (in the U.S.). Both are new publishers for me--always an anxiety-producing experience--but they have been a pleasure to work with. If you want to read more about the story of a boy kidnapped by a travelling medicine show, follow the l
ink to Amazon:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What's in that hat?

It's time to write a post about the first of two new kids' books coming this fall. The new picture books is "Mr. Zinger's Hat," with illustrations by Dusan Petricic. I've really enjoyed reading this story to audiences of adults and kids over the last couple of years, I guess because it's really a story about storytelling. Because it's not old Mr. Zinger's hat itself that's important, but the story that seems to be stirring inside it. Mr. Zinger himself was inspired by one of my favourite writers. (I won't say who, but he shouldn't be too hard for some people to figure out.) Even as an old man, this writer was busy making up stories and he used to walk around the courtyard of his apartment in New York for exercise and inspiration. My story is a kind of fantasy, then; what if I'd met the writer when I was a boy? What might have happened?

Monday, May 21, 2012

When the party's over

It was a fine time at the Forest of Trees awards last week. The day began with some rain but sure enough the sun came out for the ceremony. (Jan Andrews was the winner of the Silver Birch Express Award.)
The first photo is of two of the posters put up for kids to sign with messages for the author. Mine's on the left, Monica Kulling's is on the right. (Thanks, Monica, for sending me the photo.) Pretty nice! The second photo is from the workshop on the banjo that I gave. My friends Rachel (fiddle) and Conny (guitar) are playing a couple of tunes with me. I'm on my homemade banjo. It was a good time. (Thanks to teacher Jane Mundell for the photo.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Trees are coming, the Trees are coming!

Last month I had a great tour of northern New Brunswick, ending up in Moncton for the spectacular Hackmatack Awards ceremony. I was up for 'Jacob Two-Two on the High Seas' and no, I didn't win. But I'm used to that. And the winner, Hugh Brewster, was a very worthy choice. I also got to spend a little time with him and he's a very swell person. He actually writes about important things. And coming up next week are the Forest of Tree awards. I'll be down at Harbourfront on Wednesday, duking it out for the Silver Birch Express Award. My nominated book is "Banjo of Destiny." I'm doing a workshop as well and have roped in two musician friends, Conny and Rachel, so we can play a couple of tunes on fiddle, banjo, and guitar. They're pros, so only I'll be nervous! In other news, I'll soon be posting the cover image of my new kids' novel on the bog here. And my new picture book, for that matter. Some of you may have read the post about my upcoming book of short stories (an adult book, this), 'My Life Among the Apes.' It was supposed to come out in April but has been delayed. I'll post the new pub date when I have it.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New story collection coming soon(ish)

Although my last five adult books have all been novels, I've never stopped writing short stories. Some have taken me over a decade to finish, others less than a year. They've benefited from the editorial eye of several journal publishers but now at last they'll live together under one cover, where they belong.

"My Life Among the Apes" will be published by Cormorant Books. The pub date has been delayed a couple of months, to May, and I hope that date sticks. In the meantime, here's the cover.

By the way, I continue to love reading stories as well. At the moment I have collections by Annie Proulx, Ann Packer, William Trevor, Anton Chekhov, Haruki Murakami, and Amy Jones by my bed.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Have to love the Willow tree

I've always loved willow trees, maybe because there's a giant one in the next-door neighbour's front lawn of my parents. (My parents have always complained about its little leaves everywhere.) So I'm naturally pleased that "Ella May and the Wishing Stone" has been nominated for a Shining Willow Award. The award is voted on by kids in Saskatchewan.

Here's the link:

I remember driving across Saskatchewan a couple of times with my brothers when I was about 19 years old. I loved the landscape, those endless planted fields and that big sky. We didn't stop long in towns or cities but I had a good impression of Saskatoon. And we also stopped in the town (what was the name?) where the film version of "Who Has Seen the Wind?" was shot. Time to go back!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Want to write a picture book? Join us!

Once again I'm teaching my course on writing picture books for the University of Toronto's Continuing Studies department. It's on Monday nights 6:30 to 9, for eight weeks, starting next week. Everyone will, I hope, have a couple of manuscripts written by the end. And everyone will have had a good time.

More info at: