Friday, November 27, 2015

Space Adventure! MINRS review

IMG_5234 (4)
Ah, this book had me at hello. That is...if hello means space adventure. I grew up reading Heinlein and Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke and still love to expand my mind with the latest science fiction. But I just haven't seen enough of this type of writing for younger audiences. Well MINRS by Kevin Sylvester fills that void. Or space. Or black hole. A wonderful sense of action, science that's interesting (yet doesn't slow down the plot) and a great variety of characters. The characters are the children of miners who work on Perses, a planetoid that earth is mining. Just the whole idea of living on (and inside) a planetoid is interesting enough but then the bombs begin to fall from space and... ...anyway I don't want to give away too much. Just hold onto your space helmets. It's a wild ride...


Monday, November 16, 2015

My Copy Editor found a pair of pants in my novel...

I'm in the middle of doing copy edits for my novel Flickers. And a pair of pants just showed up out of nowhere:

  Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.40.52 AM

Copy editors do enough work. They shouldn't have to do the laundry, too!   Art

Monday, October 26, 2015

Book Review: We Are All Made Of Molecules

IMG_4222Me holding a book that's made of molecules. Well, I'm late with this review. I mean the book has already been nominated for a Governor General's Award and been sold into a bazillion countries. Plus, I read it a few months ago and have finally got off my duff to offer you a review. Susin Nielsen is one of my favourite writers and this book is a great addition to her growing list of excellent titles. It's the story of Stewart, an academically brilliant but socially clueless main character, who is struggling to adapt to the death of his mother and he's experiencing the massive adjustment of moving in with his father's new girlfriend and her fourteen-year-old daughter Ashley. Written from Stewart and Ashley's point of view, the book is spot on in terms of voice. Susin is a screenwriter (along with being a novelist) and I think that natural ability to structure a script comes through with this book. There are no wrong turns. Plus the book appears deceptively simple on the outside but the deeper you dig into it the more you discover is there. Nielsen has a gift for comedy that somehow reaches into your soul and plucks your heartstrings (I copyrighted that last sentence BTW). I laughed out loud several times. And may have had to wipe away a manly tear once or twice. Don't worry, I used my work gloves to sop...err...I mean wipe the offending tear(s) away. Anyway, two thumbs and a whole bunch of molecules up for this one. Art

Review: The Nest by Kenneth Oppel

IMG_4241 Today I turn my mind to The Nest, Kenneth Oppel's latest opus (I like the ring of that). I am a friend of Ken's but, more importantly, I'm a fan of his work (Skybreaker and Silverwing being two of my favourites along with Half Brother). I'm often late to the bandwagon and this book definitely has a bandwagon: starred reviews galore, a glowing NY Times review, and general accolades and buzz (forgive the use of that word considering the book features magical wasps). It's completely deserving. It's one of those books that sneaks into your subconscious word by word and before you know it you are feeling those palpations of fear that you thought only Hitchcock could produce. Young Steve is the narrator of the story. His family is dealing with the arrival into the family of a child with an unknown cognitive disability. There are hospital visits and severe health complications to deal with. At about that same time Steve, after being bitten by a wasp, begins to be visited in his dreams by a wasp queen who promises to "help" with the baby. I won't say much more than that--other than you probably shouldn't accept the help of a wasp queen. This is spine tingling and skin crawling at its finest. But the book asks important (and disturbing) questions about what is normal. What would you do to "fix" a child with disabilities. As a father of a child with disabilities, this book nails those first weeks of angst and fear and not understanding why all of this happened and how to deal with it bang on. Read The Nest. Not just for the chills. But for the way the book makes you think. What would you do if the queen of wasps offered help? Art

Saturday, September 26, 2015

My Most Popular Youtube Video is Cheesy and Involves a Treadmill Desk...

It's curious what one becomes semi-famous for...
What I don't mention on the video is that if you walk backwards on the treadmill desk you go back in time. The '80s weren't as cool as I remember them...    


Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Perfect Editor

My publisher, HarperCollins Canada, is looking for a new editor. But they forgot to add a few qualifications. So I helped them out:   Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 7.32.12 AM

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Canadian Adventure Prize Pack

Canadian Prize Pack final
Well, here it is! The Canadian Adventure Prize Pack. Trains! Zombies! Zeppelins! Magicians & Masterminds! My publisher, the honourable HarperCollins Canada, has generously offered this package of books to help promote my nearly famous newsletter. In order to win the amazingly adventurous books above all you have to do is enter here:

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

But if you want to double your chances of winning then sign up for my newsletter in the contest form above!

My gluten-free monthly newsletter is titled Arthur Slade's Somewhat Clever Newsletter. It's jam packed with news, writing tips, humour, and lettuce and bacon. It has everything! And there's also a prize every month (because it's fun to give away things). The prizes range from author Skype visits to books to critiques,'s endless. As you can tell I have a lot of fun with it.

 FYI: The adventurous books are Zomboy by Richard Scrimger, Saving Houdini by Michael Redhill, Masterminds by Gordon Kormon, The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel and The Hunchback Assignments by some guy who writes things sometimes.

Have a gloriously adventurous day! Contest closes Oct. 31st, 2015.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

This is what happens when someone with 1.34 million followers retweets you...

Iron Maiden
The short story: A heavy metal fan gets retweeted by his favourite band and experiences a modicum of fame.

The detailed story: So, I'm an unabashed heavy metal head. I know. Several people have stopped reading this already. But the rest of you, please read along--there will be no gushing about "the 1980's was the greatest metal decade ever!" Yesterday, Iron Maiden released its new album The Book of Souls and to celebrate I decided to tweet a picture of the Iron Maiden jean jacket I painted back when I was in Grade Eleven. This is my tweet:

 Funny, eh? I was amazed I could still almost fit into the jacket (as long as I didn't try to do the buttons up). The official Iron Maiden twitter account kindly retweeted my nostalgic tweet. Here's a screen grab of their twitter page:

As you can see they have 1.34 million followers. That's million with an M. I was both over the moon that some tiny portion of the Iron Maiden machine had noticed me and really curious what would happen with my tweet. So here are the official stats of that tweet:
  maidentweetresultOf those 1.34 million people who follow Iron Maiden on Twitter 52,671 of them looked at the tweet (or at least it appeared briefly on their screens). But 4860 engaged directly with it. That is they clicked to see the larger photo or  expanded the "details" about it. 275 of those people "favorited" the tweet. 177 clicked on my profile. And 70 retweeted my tweet. And you can see by the number of replies that it led to some conversations with fellow fans (one even said, "up the irons" in solidarity). And 5 of them began to follow me.

5 new followers? Out of a possible 1.34 million? I wasn't surprised by that. After all only a small portion (or should I say a smidgen) would be interested in a YA writer.

I think this does show the level of engagement on twitter. Only a small percentage of the Iron Maiden twitter followers looked at my tweet (I'm sure a good portion of people just tune in every once in a while so the tweet vanished on their feeds). As an author, I wasn't expecting to sell books to these people, I just wanted to have fun. And it was fun. And it only took me a few minutes to take the pic and tweet it, so no "work" time was lost. Plus, did I mention that @ironmaiden retweeted me! If only I could tell my 1984 self that this was going to happen. His head would explode.*


 *of course I'd have to explain what Twitter was first, oh and the internet and mention that Iron Maiden inconceivably put out two albums without Bruce Dickinson's a long list.

 PS. This last photo is for those who are not faint of heart:
  IMG_3944   See. It almost fits.