books on the radio

Announcing Bookcamp Vancouver 2010: Friday October 1st!

Friday, October 1st, 2010. SFU Harbour Centre. Cost = Free.

Happy to make an official announcement about Bookcamp Vancouver 2010!

The second annual installment will occur in downtown Vancouver on the classic binary date of 01.10.10.

It will be hosted again this year by the good people at SFU Harbour Centre, more specifically the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing which features the Masters of Publishing Program and the Summer Publishing Workshops – both of which feature amazing faculty and produce the leaders of tomorrow.

Our friends at BookNet Canada have once again generously sponsored the event! They rule, we love them, you should too.

The organizing team will be taking a more active curatorial role this year in an effort to bring everyone a more focused and informative day. We have decided to cut back the number of sessions, too, while including more time for conversation between sessions.

We hope that these decisions will provide a better experience for everyone.

Please check out our wiki and become a fan of our Facebook Page, too.

If you have any questions, suggestions or comments please don’t hesitate to let me or any of the organizers know.

See you in October!


SFU Symposium on the Book Contest Winners: Humour Division
July 18, 2010, 10:01 AM
Filed under: Events | Tags: , , ,

Very excited to be a part of the process for selecting and celebrating these short, funny stories as a part of the SFU Symposium on the Book.

Here they are:

Grand Prize Winner: S. H. Carlyle

To the cult I inadvertently started last night:

Good morning, group of strangers assembled on my front lawn.

I would like to start out by apologizing for the comments I made last night regarding the demise of the universe. I had been drinking quite heavily since lunchtime and was a little emotionally fragile after a serious screw-up at the office which I’m told will cost my firm its best client. I was in no condition to claim that the only way any of us would survive the Earth’s imminent explosion would be to come back to my house for inter-dimensional transport. Again, I apologize.

I am pleased, though, that so many of you—I believe you are calling yourselves “The Progeny of Orion”—have embraced this movement so readily. I see you have removed all your body hair and coated yourselves in petroleum jelly according to my instructions, which, again, I did not expect you all to follow. I don’t want to say that I was in any way “joking” because by the looks of manic determination on many of your faces I can tell that you did not find it funny. I will say, however, that I did not intend to find such a receptive audience for cult membership during happy hour at the Red Lobster by the on-ramp.

However, I personally think it’s inspiring to see so many people (and there really are an alarming number of you here) ready to give up the lives they know and join a thinly explained pseudo-spiritual group. I’m also very impressed that some of you took the time to copy down everything I said last night and carve it word-for-word into this grouping of granite monoliths. Reading these now, it seems I was very excited about the weather in the Hexalian Dimension as it would give us the opportunity to “enhance the frequency harmonics of our multi-variant communal psychokinesis and get us out jogging more.” I also seem to go on at great length about a character named Sazerac whom I believed would deliver us from the pains of our mortal form, although I suspect you might have misunderstood me as I’m pretty sure I was trying to order another cocktail. Nevertheless, I think you got the message.

I should also make a special announcement to all the women among you, hairless and difficult to pick out as you may be. Lately, my problems at work have been compounded by troubles with my girlfriend who has recently moved out, destroying my self-esteem. It really makes me feel validated to know that Karen missed out on becoming the Humanly Vessel of the Inter-Dimensional Supernova Jesus whom I claimed I would father and who so many of you were willing to carry. And when I suggested that the mother of this new deity should be determined through a topless make-out competition, you were all equally committed. For that, I thank you, but again, I apologize.

I should wrap this up as I have to get off to work. But just to recap, there will be no inter-dimensional travel happening on my lawn today or any other day, despite what I might have said last night.

Feel free to use the garden hose to wash yourselves off. There’s also some V8 juice and a half a bag of mini-bagels for anyone who’s interested. Just please, before you go, put out the oil drum fires and take the vats of feces with you. I’ll deal with the monoliths. Thanks.

Runner-up: Bill Radford

Let’s Exploit Writers Now!

The other day I was re-reading Midnight’s Children, and I thought to myself, damn, this man Rushdie can write, but wouldn’t it be something if I could hear him sing, too? Picture Salman Rushdie sitting down at a piano in a dark and smoky room. That would make a hell of an album cover. I bet you it would sell.

When this idea first came to me, I was a little worried that Salman Rushdie might not be a very good singer. But isn’t that what computers are for? I mean, certainly in this day and age the question of whether he can sing or not is no longer relevant. I don’t think T-Pain can sing. It’s hard to tell.

What I do know is that before Simon Cowell became famous for American Idol, he made a lot of money by giving recording contracts to professional wrestlers. He observed that hundreds of thousands of people went crazy whenever Macho Man Randy Savage grabbed a microphone in order to yell at Hulk Hogan, and then Simon Cowell thought, let’s put Macho Man in a recording studio.

These days, everyone knows that singers who can’t sing can be singers. Steven Segal has two albums. But nobody seems to have made the connection that writers (just like actors, wrestlers, models, hotel heiresses, and athletes) are artists with musical potential. I have a feeling that Tom Robbins would love to be auto-tuned. He likes attention.

Why stop here?

I would love to see a buddy cop movie starring Stephen King and Samuel L. Jackson. Don’t you think that Stephen King and Samuel L. Jackson would have chemistry?

Sam Jackson: Yo, man, don’t be playin’ with my radio!

Stephen King: Blood is coming out of it…

Cult status; DVD sales forever.

For this, there is already some precedent. Writers have had cameos in several movies, and not just in the ones they’ve written themselves. Salman Rushdie had a part in Bridget Jones’s Diary and Kurt Vonnegut appeared in a Rodney Dangerfield movie. But I think it’s time to give a writer a starring role. If Robert Downey, Jr. can be a singer and Madonna can be a writer, then Annie Dillard deserves a chance to be suspended from a helicopter while fiery explosions bloom all around her.

There are several artists who have had great crossovers: William Shatner made a very memorable CD, Will Smith is one of the most popular actors in the world, and John Lithgow writes fun children’s books. Shouldn’t writers be given a chance at this glory? I mean, if there’s one thing that’s clear at this point it’s that talent doesn’t matter. People who are famous at one thing can easily become famous at something else. That’s all.

I guess I should admit that my motivations are selfish, since I have what it takes to be a quintuple-threat artist. My mom’s a music teacher, so I started singing when I was very young, and around the same time I started lying, which is like acting. I have a third degree black belt in taekwondo, which means I can kick people in the head very quickly. And just the other day I taught myself how to moonwalk from a video on the internet, so I can dance now. Lastly, I can write. Maybe not as well as Salman Rushdie, but I’d like to hereby challenge him to a dancing-acting-writing-singing-karate pentathlon, because I think I’m more well-rounded than he is.

Unfortunately, I started at the wrong end of the progression. I chose ‘writer’ as my dominant class, and now I’m watching celebrities jump from movies to music to theatre to book deals while I’m stuck in a coffee bar with my laptop. I could sit here and whine, but instead I’m offering a solution that will make at least one person (me) happy: attach computers to my voice box, back me up with green-screens, and give me a chance to become your biggest, brightest, most shining star.

Dragon Problems: Hur Publishing vs Books on the Radio

Tracy Hurren and Kathleen Fraser are Hur Publishing

Listen to Tracy and Kathleen talk about Hur Publishing.

The 2010 Cohort for SFU’s Masters of Publishing Program are a stone-cold bunch who have really stepped out and shown the industry that they’re ready to accept the challenges that are affecting publishing.

I have discussed this previously on Julie Wilson’s BookMadam & Associates site.

Dragon Problems detail.

Their collaborative print on demand work entitled Book of MPub is essential reading for anyone interested in discovering new ideas for book/magazine publishing.  The book totally levels the playing field and brings the publishing conversation back to a deep discussion of essential ideas and offers no time for weak fear-based arguments.

Tracy Hurren and Kathleen Fraser are just two of the bright lights from the SFU MPub program who are now spending their summer getting some experience interning at a couple of Canada’s finest independent publishers.

Tracy is ripping it up in Montreal at Drawn and Quarterly while Kathleen keeps it closer to home with a gig at Arsenal Pulp Press in Vancouver.

But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

What we’re talking about here is Dragon Problems, the first book to be published by Hur Publishing.

Hur Publishing is a joint conspiratorial effort of Tracy and Kathleen that involves publishing new engaging stories as well-designed books – including some of Tracy’s amazing handmade books.

Dragon Problems is an excellent example of what can happen when you have the convergence of good story + great art + sweet design skills + keen editorial eye.

The story was written by Chris Carrier and the art was created by Stacey Buchanan.

Both Chris and Stacey are lucky to have had their work brought to life by Tracy and Kathleen.  It’s a great first effort and I cannot wait for their next book to drop.

Please check out the Hur Publishing website for more info and also to order your copy of the book.

Also, I believe that both Tracy and Kathleen will be presenting at BookCamp Toronto 2010 this coming Saturday as part of their Book of MPub throwdown.

If you’re attending BookCamp Toronto 2010 then I highly recommend that you attend their session – it’s designed to blow minds and to drag the unwilling kicking and screaming into the here and now.

Check out our interview and let me know what you think.

Go to the Hur Publishing and buy the book. That's all. Just do it.

SFU Summer Publishing Workshops: Sign Up Now to Attend

Sign Up Now to Study Book Publishing in Vancouver, Summer 2010.

Summertime in Vancouver

+ studying book/magazine publishing at SFU

= some kind of perfect bliss.

It’s time for you to do some serious thinking about coming out to Vancouver to bask in the glory of one of the best book publishing programs in the world.  And to experience the radiant, sublime amazingness of this city at the height of summer.

Bleeding Edge Ideas Calmly Discussed.

SFU has unveiled their program for the 2010 Summer Publishing Workshops and it looks pretty serious.

Some of the best and most experienced people in the business combined with some of the brightest lights in new media will be on hand to give students an unforgettable learning experience.

Vancouver is home to some of the best doers and thinkers in the digital area.

People who not only actively engage the web, social media and the digital landscape but who are excellent communicators about that experience.

There’s no better example of this than Lisa Manfield and Rebecca Bollwit on Marketing Magazines Online.

Unless, of course, we’re talking about the Justice League of America style panel that’ll be leading students through the session called Digital Strategy: Editor’s Intensive featuring: John ‘Hawkman’ Maxwell, Joy ‘Invisible Plane’ Gugler, Boris ‘Aquaman’ Mann and Monique ‘Super Girl’ Trottier.

Just take a moment to think about those people.  Check out those links and look at the quality of work that they do.

What kind of ideas are they capable of unlocking in you?

And I haven’t even mentioned industry powerhouse thinkers like O’Reilly Media’s Andrew Savikas, Neelan Choksi of Lexcycle, Mark Coker from Smashwords, Chris Lanbonte, Ali Cairns and Jesse Finkelstein from D&M Publishers, Sarah ‘Smart Bitches‘ Wendell, Richard Nash, and Kobo’s Michael Tamblyn to name only a few.

Learn the Fundamentals from Industry Masters.

And there’s much knowledge and wisdom to be gleaned from the best minds in traditional publishing, too.

Take a look at this roll call of industry vets:

Tom Best from HB Fenn and Key Porter Books, Randy Chan, Brad Martin and Kristin Cochrane from Random House Canada, Simon and Schuster Canada’s Kevin Hanson, Donna Hayes from Harlequin Enterprises, the legendary David Kent from Harper Collins Canada, Brian Lam from Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press and Kevin Williams from TalonBooks will all be on hand to give you the 411 on the real challenges and opportunities that the book publishing industry faces going forward.

Pretty frickin’ amazing.


So here’s the deal: Think about it, then do something about it.

The best minds in traditional book and magazine publishing + guiding lights in new media + sunlight, Stanley Park, mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

The answer to the question is Yes.  As in “Yes, I’m going to do it,” and “Yes, I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Imagine what you’ll learn.  Imagine the new ideas, fresh perspectives and great people that you’ll meet.

And I’ll be there, too.  I’ll be reprising and updating the talk that I gave last year called Digital Rights Management vs the Inevitability of Free Content.

For more info on what courses are available, a full list of faculty and details on costing and accommodation please check the SFU Publishing Workshops website and/or send me an email.

Hope to see you there.

Announcing BookCamp Vancouver 2009 Unconference

HERE IT IS: Details are still coming together but we have laid the foundation for the BookCamp Vancouver 2009 Unconference: Exploring New Ideas in Books, Publishing and The Future of Reading…


Scheduled for Friday October 16th at the SFU Harbour Centre campus in downtown Vancouver from 9am to 5pm.

Fellow organizers are Monique Trottier from SoMisguided and Boxcar Marketing, John Maxwell and Suzanne Norman from the SFU Masters of Publishing program, Nick Bouton from and Morgan Cowie from BookNet Canada.

Lots of more details to come.  Media requests have been rolling.  I spoke to Stuart Woods at the Quill and Quire last week.  Check out his post about BookCamp Vancouver 2009.